This early in the season, we can start to suggest or attempt to predict possible trades, but in reality, it is still too soon to have much supporting evidence for these ideas.
So despite lacking in the stable evidence department and still being able to explain difficulties as “streaks,” we can still try to pinpoint what teams need to upgrade what specific position.
Since the NHL is still on a fresh start to the 2011-2012 regular season, each team’s offseason moves are under a microscope, being scrutinized and analyzed as a success or failure.
Why not take a stab at some of the teams whose goalies either need to step up their game or might be finding a new home because of a much-needed upgrade in the goaltending department.
Since it’s difficult to rank, we will go through these seven teams, who each need to a renovation in between the pipes, alphabetically.
Starting goaltender Steve Mason has really struggled to shake off a “sophomore slump” since his rookie season back in 2008-2009. As a rookie, Mason recorded a 33-20-7 record, a .916 save percentage and a 2.29 goals against average, statistics that are still the best of his career.
This season, Mason has eight games played under his belt, but has a disappointing 0-7-1 record with a .878 save percentage and 3.53 goals against average.
I think it goes without saying that Columbus needs to find a goalie who will at least give the team a chance to win games, meaning an upgrade from Steve Mason.
Florida’s new starting goaltender, Jose Theodore, is a former starting goaltender who has struggled to hold onto that No. 1 job throughout his career. Theodore’s inconsistency has made his position as either a starting or a backup goaltender unstable, and this year seems to be following that trend.
The Panthers backup goaltender, Jacob Markstrom, has played in three games, winning two of them and recording a 1.29 goals against average and .967 save percentage. Theodore has been less than impressive with a 2.62 goals against average, and his starting goaltender job is on the rocks considering Markstrom has played in three of the last four games. All in all, the Panthers are in need of a strong starting goaltender.
When it comes to the New Jersey Devils, the name Martin Brodeur should always come to mind. However considering Brodeur has one loss to his name and is currently on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, the 39-year-old might not be as quick to return as people hope.
Johan Hedberg has worked to pick up where Brodeur left off and has a 3-1-1 record to his name. Hedberg has been alright when it comes to filling in; however, they are now severely lacking in the backup department. So even though Hedberg could hold onto the starting goaltender job, the Devils should be looking to upgrade their goalies by getting a reliable backup.
The New York Islanders are notorious for having some pretty consistent problems with trying to play their long-time goaltender, Rick DiPietro, and those problems are still occurring with his recent injury.
On the backburner, they have Evgeni Nabokov, who was dumped by the Sharks for underachieving before, and Al Montoya. Even though Montoya and Nabokov have, together, helped the team to a 3-3-0 record, that record is not good enough to expect much in the NHL, so the Islanders definitely need an upgrade when it comes to goaltending.
The Senators shouldn’t be a surprise on this list considering both their active goaltenders have goals against averages over 4.00 and save percentages below .875. Even with at best mediocre goaltending, Ottawa has managed to stay out of the worst seed in the East, mostly because of some important offensive numbers.
Starting goalie Craig Anderson has tallied all three of Ottawa’s wins, while Alex Auld only has three losses to his name. In short, the Senators are absolutely in need of stronger backstopping goaltenders if they have any shot of staying out of the Eastern Conference’s basement.
Right now, the Phoenix Coyotes have two goalies who have consistently been backup goaltenders, and the ‘Yotes apparently expect one to completely outshine the other and win that starting goaltender job. Now, it seems like the competition has gone from which is the most impressive goalie to which is less prone to make mistakes.
Mike Smith seems to be pulling away with the starting job over Jason LaBarbera with five starts and a 2-2-1 record. Smith has better statistics all around, but still I’m not sure if either of these two have the talent to backstop their team to the post-season.
The key reason that San Jose is on this list is because of their issue with streaks, both hot streaks and cold streaks. Niemi has yet to really prove he is a solid backstop for the talented San Jose team, and with Antero Niittymaki out, Thomas Greiss has gotten the nod a few times, and has shown he isn’t really ready to play at the NHL level.
In the NHL, specifically in the Western Conference, a streaky goaltender, or a goaltender you can’t rely on, is not ever smart to hold on to. With so many strong goalies in the league, teams with even slightly weaker players between the plumbing are often torn apart by star-studded offensive lineups. In short, San Jose should try to upgrade from an unreliable Antti Niemi to a more solid and consistent goaltender.