Puck Problems: Top 10 Disappointing NHL Goalies
Before each season people like to make predictions. Which team will win the cup? Who will step up and win their division? What teams will miss the playoffs? Underlying most of these questions is whether or not a team has the kind of goaltending needed to make a splash.
Unfortunately for some netminders, the season hasn't gone as planned. Some have lost playing time to a backup. Others are backups that haven't managed to perform as expected.
Let's take a closer look at the top 10 disappointing goalies of the 2010/2011 season thus far..
10: Jonathan Bernier
Save %: .899
Some of you might not like the fact that I have included Jonathan Bernier on the list because he is only a rookie after all. Yet, when expectations are as sky high as they are for Bernier, then you must look at these numbers and concede that he hasn't been what he's been cracked up to be.
He still has elite talent and big-game ability, but the Kings and their fans were hoping for much more this season. Some of his bench time can be attributed to the great play of Jonathan Quick, but there were some (including myself) that expected Bernier to challenge for starting minutes at some point this year. I believe he'll get there, but it won't be this season.
9: Chris Mason
Save %: .892
When Chris Mason was signed by the Atlanta Thrashers, many pundits heralded it as a brilliant move. Ondrej Pavelec had not yet proven that he could handle the starting role so a veteran presence would make logical sense.
Really? Chris Mason? I wasn't a fan of the move and Pavelec has recovered niceley from his early season health scare. Whether Pavelec emerged this season or not, Mason hasn't given the Thrashers the kind of goaltending they paid for. They have lost so much faith in him that he rarely even gets a start these days—even in back-to-back game situations.
8: Jonas Gustavsson
Save %: .890
During the preseason Sebastian Giguere was named the undisputed number one goalie for the Toronto Maple Leafs. I was a bit surprised by this given the upside of Jonas Gustavsson. We are now past the midway point of the season and it seems like the Toronto brass knew something I didn't.
Despite his size and talent, "the Monster" has struggled with consistency all year. His numbers are pretty bad and you can only blame the team in front for so long. Now he has gone under the knife to have another operation on his heart problems. Needless to say the entire Gustavsson saga has been a major disappointment. Time will tell if he ever rebounds to start in this league.
7: Martin Broduer
Save %: .898
One running theme with most of the goalies on this list is that their save percentage is under .900. Anytime this happens then the blame is squarely on the play of the netminder rather than the team in front of him. For Martin Broduer, a .898 save percentage is just absurd. He is a future Hall-of-Famer and perhaps the second best goalie of all-time, but he has struggled mightily this season.
Injuries are also getting the better of him as he might be finally breaking down physically. He has played a ton of hockey and usually plays 70+ games per season. Have we seen the beginning of the end? Stay tuned.
6: New York Islanders
Has there been a bigger catastrophe in between the pipes this year than what we've seen on Long Island? They had a good thing with Dwayne Roloson, but he was shipped out of town to Tampa Bay. Rick Dipietro finally gets healthy, but then decides he's Mike Tyson. Nabokov seemed like a shrewd move, but he hung up on GM Garth Snow.
Other no name goalies have been brought in to provide a warm body, but injuries and bad play have plagued them too.
The one bright star that might come out of all of this is Al Montoya. He's a blue chip prospect recently acquired from Phoenix that hasn't been given a proper opportunity in this league. He might emerge out of this hurricane of a mess.
5: Tampa Bay Lightning
Save %: .Bad
Speaking of Tampa Bay, has there been a better turnaround this season? Right now the Lightning are currently leading their division and sitting in the two spot in the conference. Unfortunately it has nothing to do with their goaltending from the first half of the season. The team in front has overcome bad play in net all year and finally have something going with Dwayne Roloson.
Dan Ellis and Mike Smith have been disasters though. They both have winning records, but neither of them have a save percentage over .890. GM Steve Yzerman knew he couldn't go into the playoffs with this kind of play, so he made the move.
4: Craig Anderson
Save %: .899
When the Colorado Avalanche first signed Craig Anderson I loved the move. He had always had an amazing save percentage despite playing on a less than impressive Florida Panthers team. As a full-time starter last year he proved that he could be "the man" if given the opportunity. However, he did start to show signs of fatigue down the stretch and in the playoffs. Some might say that this was a red flag, while others said it was a normal symptom of an abnormally long schedule for a career backup.
Many know that a player needs to play at a high level for more than one season before anyone crowns them as an established star. Craig Anderson is finding this process more difficult than others because he has been nothing more than average this year. Injuries haven't helped, but he is one of the bigger reasons why the team currently sits at 14th in the Western Conference. Great goalies are supposed to aid a team through a slate of injuries, not contribute to the problem.
3: Marty Turco
Save %: .897
Coming into this season, the defending champs had high hopes for Marty Turco. They had to be smart with the salary cap in the offseason and letting go of Niemi's high price tag and bringing in a cheaper Turco was a plan they thought would pay big dividends.
Instead it is a relative unknown in Cory Crawford that has risen to the occasion. Turco continues to struggle with consistency and just blew a three goal lead against his former club. Turco has had his detractors over the years and it looks like they are out in full force once again this year. Given the way he has played, it would be hard to make a case for him.
2: Tuukka Rask
Save %: .916
Expectations for Tuukka Rask were through the roof coming into this season. Last year he emerged as a dynamic sensation and it looked like he was on the cusp of super-stardom. Many wondered what would happen to the five million dollar man in Tim Thomas.
Wonder no more. Tim Thomas has come back with a vengeance and taken back the starting role with an infinity of exclamation marks. Meanwhile, Rask has been in and out of the lineup all year. Some games he shows flashes of the brilliance we saw last year, at other times it looks like he doesn't belong in the league.
Like Bernier, I believe he has all the tools to be a Vezina contender sooner than later, but for now he'll need to continue developing his game as a backup.
1: Jaroslav Halak
Save %: .908
Has there been a more disappointing goalie in the league this year than Jaroslav Halak? Another (unnamed) Bleacher Report featured columnist wrote an article earlier in the year crowning Halak as the undisputed winner from the Blues/Canadiens trade. With a good part of the season already in the books, it looks like Montreal wasn't so stupid to trade Halak after all.
Price has outplayed Halak all year and they were also able to resign Tomas Plekanec thanks to the move. Meanwhile, Halak has toiled in mediocrity and failed to give St Louis the kind of goaltending they expected when they acquired him during the offseason.
There is still time to turn things around, but heading into the stretch-run Jaroslav Halak is clearly the most disappointing netminder in the NHL so far. His heroics during the magical playoff run now seem like a distant memory. The Blues are hoping he rekindles that flame in time to save the season.