NHL General

Crashing the Zamboni: Goaliefest

45 saves for Tim Thomas

The goaltenders took center stage on Tuesday, as the NHL action was sparked by some serious defensive numbers:

-585 total saves
-Three shutouts (each with fewer than three total goals)
-Nine goalies with 30 or more saves (two with at least 45)
Here are some of the highlights:

1. Down to the Wire
In the NHL, it’s rare to stop all 39 official shots that get thrown your way- and still get tacked with the loss. Just ask Panther goalie Alexander Auld, who had a monster game against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night, going 39-for-39 on save opportunities to earn a shutout in the stat books. Sometimes, though, posting a perfect save percentage just isn’t enough to win you the game. Montreal’s Alex Kovalev and Saku Koivu both got the puck by Auld in the shootout period, and gave Habs netminder Cristobal Huet his second shutout of the year. This was only the second time in NHL history that a goalie posted a shutout and received the loss. Huet was outsaved by his counterpart on the opposite side of the ice, but still had an amazing game in his own right with 36 saves. It was Florida’s fourth straight loss, as the Panthers remain at the pit of the Southeast Division.

2. Terminator Tim
Boston Bruins’ goalie Tim Thomas stopped 45 pieces of vulcanized rubber from Toronto sticks on Tuesday night, only letting one puck hit the twine behind him. Unlike Alex Auld, Tim’s career night actually ended with a win, as the Bruins’ offense clicked to the tune of four goals. Thomas picked the right time to come up big, as last-place Boston is barley clinging to relevance. Tim’s comments, from the AP:
“We’re fighting to get back into the race. We had a meeting this morning and Coach [Dave Lewis] said this was the closet thing we’ve had to a playoff game. To get to the playoffs we have to beat teams like the Maple Leafs. He basically challenged us.”
If the Bruins want any chance at playing in the postseason, they’re going to need Tim Thomas to answer the challenge as he did on Tuesday.

3. Olaf the Great
Tuesday’s saves leader was Washington’s Olaf Kolzig, who fell a measly two saves short of the half-century mark. Ollie went 48-for-50 on save opportunities, and the Capitals’ offense banged home five goals for the victory. It snapped a six-game skid for a second-to-last Caps club, as a potent offensive attack was able to get red-hot Tampa goalie Johan Holmqvist pulled from the game in the second period. Five different players tallied scores for Washington, including last year’s Calder Memorial Trophy winner, Alexander Ovechkin (granted, it was an empty netter- but Ovechkin is Ovechkin, so it is newsworthy all the same).

Check It Out
Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail reminds us of just how similar rookie Paul Stasny is to his dad. His dad Peter earned a reputation for being a go-to guy, which is part of the reason why he stands in the Hall Of Fame today. Paul, a college hockey powerhouse Denver University alum, is off to a good start in the pros with Colorado: through 24 games, he has six goals and thirteen assists.

Game of the Night: San Jose at Minnesota
Sharks have won five of last six games

The Last Shot
Yesterday in Bethlehem, New York, a new YMCA opened–featuring an NHL-sized hockey rink. It is the second YMCA in New York to showcase a pro-sized ice sheet, and the Y would be smart to continue with the trend. Out here in the Rockies, we have several YMCA’s- and to our knowledge, no hockey rinks are to be found. The twelve million swimming pools that are found within one YMCA would get quite a bit more use if they were frozen over.