Stacking the Pads

Just the tip of the goalie news iceberg

28 September 2006

Who's the best in the net?

Alan Muir of gives us his list of the best netminders as of opening night this season. The usual suspects are there, but there is a surprise or two.

And what the heck is happening in Sweden? Linköping and Frölunda, who finished 2nd and 3rd last year, are in 10th and 11th places, respectively. Frölunda's record is atrocious: 0-3-2 after being soundly beaten by HV71 today by a score of 6-1. I've watched several video clips of their games and find myself wondering if someone put a Salo jersey on some random guy off the street and put him in net. There is no way Salo played this poorly last year, not with the success the team had. Looking only at the scores of the games, I thought maybe the defense is porous this year. But the video shows sloppy positioning and terrible reaction time on his part. What's happened? He's no spring chicken at 35 years of age, but there has to be something going on for there to be such a dramatic difference between this season and last. HV hasn't been faring much better, but they finally leapt ahead of the pack of "former-winners in the basement" today with their victory over the Indians, putting them in 8th place. Ooooooh, look out, here they come now!

27 September 2006

Catching up with the team previews

There's more great analysis on, looking at many aspects of the teams as we inch closer to the start of the regular season. As far as the goalies go...

All jokes aside, Rick DiPietro's confidence is back after a career-high in wins last season. (Note: Wade Dubielewicz is featured as backup in this article, but the Isles appear to be courting Mike Dunham, who has played in all three of the Islanders' pre-season games so far.) King Henrik will be out to prove his stellar season was no fluke, just as the Senators will benefit from Martin Gerber proving himself in a new city, with hungry Ray Emery at his heels. And in Minnesota, now that the question of the #1 position has been settled, the battle for ice time will be played out for the backup role between club prospect Josh Harding and Finnish import Niklas Backstrom. With Antero Niittymaki's unfortunate injury, the Flyers will have to rely on Robert Esche as their starter, rather than go with the tandem plan as predicted. Predators players and fans alike are relieved that Tomas Vokoun's health problems cleared up and he is ready to pick up where he left off. The kid with the bright yellow pads gets his first shot at a full season as the #1 goalie. Pittsburgh's backup situation is a lot less confidence-inspirig. CuJo is the undisputed #1 in Pheonix, and John McGourty thinks an improved Coyotes defense will do wonders to help improve his numbers.

21 September 2006

Goalie geek heaven continued...

Phil Coffey continues his team-by-team analysis at With Marc Denis gone Pascal LeClaire can really come into his own in Columbus. No look at Dallas would be complete without discussing Marty Turco's strange tendency to fall apart in the postseason, and what is there to say about Detroit other than: Hasek ? Alex Auld has a few interesting things to say about his old team. Up in Habs territory the crease is a bit crowded. And the worst job in hockey might just be being Martin Brodeur's backup.

18 September 2006

A goalie geek's gold mine

Phill Coffey over at is doing a fantastic job of previewing the teams for the 2006-2007 season. He looks at each aspect of the teams, but of course I go right for the goalies.

Will Bryz or Giggy end up with the #1 job in Anaheim? The Thrashers focus on keeping Lehtonen healthy and closing the revolving door to the backup position, while Toivonen may get the chance to shine this season in Boston. Even though Buffalo has no worries in net (which will free up management to do something about their hideous new logo), there couldn't be a bigger no-brainer than Calgary's goaltending situation. Brind'Amour gives Cam Ward kudos, Nikolai Khabibulin is out to prove 2005-2006 was just a fluke, and Jose Theodore intends to start fresh in Colorado.

Another conversation with the Flyers fan

I’m not a huge football fan, but I am a casual Giants fan just by default because that is the team my family has always rooted for. (Yes, I know this is a hockey blog… stay with me on this, I promise it will tie in).

Yesterday as I carbo-loaded in preparation for my first official game with my new team, an all-women’s team, I watched the Giants/Eagles game. I actually found myself quite into it, even yelled at the TV a little. And this was during the first half, so you can’t call me a bandwagon Giants fan for that. I did wander off to do some other things but came back when I found out they’d tied, and watched the rest of the game. I was happy that the Giants came back and won, but was even more gleeful about the fact that I could gloat about it to that Philadelphia transplant in my office. My opportunity came toward the end of the day as I was getting my afternoon coffee. Flyers Fan happened to be loading up on caffeine as well.

Me: So… I watched a football game yesterday.

FF (warily): Really? What game did you watch?

Me: Oh…the Giants/Eagles game.

We had a friendly banter about the game, and then when we both discovered that the other had lost their cable connection mid-game, the conversation turned to Cablevision, otherwise known in these parts (ok, just in my house) as “Evil Empire”. He complained that they are always telling him to buy this or that device to increase his bandwidth.

FF: I think it’s just a ruse so they can keep paying your Rangers.

Me: Nah, the salary cap has saved the Rangers from themselves.

FF: Ok, then it’s for the Continual Mark Messier Retirement Party.

Me: Maybe. But it might be funneled into the Brian Leetch Retirement Party fund, since it looks like we’ll be getting him back in time for him to retire.

FF: What happened? You guys were doing so well, sticking with the young guys… now you have Shanahan, and maybe Leetch? Why don’t they just call up Wayne Gretzky and ask him to play for another few years?

Is it me, or does this “Flyers fan” know an awful lot about the Rangers?

In other news…
The only good thing this Ranger fan can say about the Devils’ 5-0 mauling of the Bruins in their first pre-season game is that defenseman Johnny Oduya, formerly of the Frölunda Indians, had 3 assists.

And speaking of the Frölunda Indians, they played their first game of the regular season today, and lost to Linköpings 5-2. Goaltenders were Salo for Frölunda and Cechmanek for Linköpings. (Talk about retirement parties…)

Yesterday, Ak Bars Kazan bested Metallurg Magnitogorsk by a score of 3-1 and kept Czech sensation Jan Marek scoreless.

16 September 2006

14 hours...

In 14 hours the first pre-seaon game will be underway, and I can finally start to relax. I honestly don't know how I survived the lockout, so edgy have I been for the last two weeks or so, waiting for the season to start. Tomorrow's matchups will be: Bruins/Devils, Predators/BlueJackets, Oilers/Coyotes, and Panthers/Flames.

In other (actual, real) news, the Hawks just can't seem to get a break in net. Hopefully they won't have to rely on the services of a backup very much, if the old Bulin Wall can stay healthy and get back to his old form.

15 September 2006

Old and new faces

Yet another milestone on the road to hockey season passed yesterday: training camps officially opened, and the fruits of the summer of free agency can be seen list (below) of all goalies officially invited to each teams' camp. Legace in St. Louis? Luongo in Vancouver? Belfour in Florida? If you've been under a rock all summer (or maybe just watching baseball), you're in for a few surprises.

However, can someone explain why Miikka Kiprusoff is mysteriously absent from Calgary's official roster? Also, Mike Dunham has reportedly been invited to the Islanders' camp.

The information was collected from the official press releases linked on the NHL site. Format is as follows:

Name (2005-2006 league)

Michael Leighton (AHL)
Ilya Bryzgalov (NHL)
Nathan Marsters (AHL, ECHL)
Jean-Sebastien Giguere (NHL)
David McKee (ECAC)
Michael Wall (AHL, ECHL)
J.P. Levasseur (QMJHL)

Fred Brathwaite (Russia)
Dave Caruso (CCHA)
Michael Garnett (NHL)
Johan Hedberg (NHL)
Kari Lehtonen (NHL)
Ondrej Pavalec (QMJHL)
Dan Turple (OHL)

Brian Finley (NHL, AHL)
Tim Thomas (NHL, AHL)
Hannu Toivonen (NHL)

Adam Berkhoel (NHL)
Martin Biron (NHL)
Adam Dennis (OHL)
Ryan Miller (NHL)
Thomas Tragust (Italy)

Leland Irving (WHL)
MAtt Keetley (WHL)
Brent Krahn (AHL)
Kevin Lalande (OHL)
Curtis McElhinney (AHL)

Cam Ward (AHL, NHL)
Kevin Nastiuk (AHL, ECHL)
John Grahame (NHL)
Craig Kowalski (AHL, ECHL)
Justin Peters (OHL)

Sebastien Caron (AHL, NHL)
Corey Crawford (AHL, NHL)
Nikolai Khabibulin (NHL)
Patrick Lalime (NHL, AHL)
Tom Lawson (ECHL, AHL)

Petr Budaj (NHL)
Kris Mayotte (ECAC, ECHL, AHL)
Jose Theodore (NHL)
Tyler Weiman (ECHL, AHL)

Ty Conklin (NHL, AHL)
Dan LaCosta (OHL)
Pascal Leclaire (NHL,AHL)
Steve Mason (OHL)
Fredrik Norrena (Sweden)
Tomas Popperle (Germany)

Dan Ellis (AHL)
Tobias Stephan (Switzerland)
Marty Turco (NHL)
Mike Smith (AHL)

Dominik Hasek (NHL)
Jimmy Howard (NHL, AHL)
Logan Koopmans (ECHL, AHL)
Stefan Liv (Sweden)
Joey MacDonald (AHL, ECHL)
Drew MacIntyre (AHL, ECHL)
Chris Osgood (NHL, AHL)

Jeff Drouin-Desiauriers (AHL, ECHL)
Devan Dubnyk (WHL)
Jussi Markkanen (NHL)
Bryan Pitton (OHL)
Dwayne Roloson (NHL)

Ed Belfour (NHL)
Jean-Marc Pelletier (AHL)
Craig Anderson (NHL)
Dvid Shantz (OHL)
Alex Auld (NHL)

Los Angeles
Jonathan Bernier (QMJHL)
Barry Brust (AHL)
Dan Cloutier (NHL)
Yutaka Fukfuji (AHL, ECHL)
Matthieu Garon (NHL)
Jason Labarbera (NHL, AHL)
Ryan Munce (ECHL)
Daniel Taylor (OHL)

Niklas Backstrom (Finland)
Manny Fernandez (NHL)
Josh Harding (AHL)

David Aebischer (NHL)
Yann Danis (NHL, AHL)
Jaroslav Halak (AHL)
Cristobal Huet (NHL, AHL)
Loic Lacasse (LHJMQ)
Carey Price (WHL)

New Jersey
Frank Doyle (AHL)
Marin Brodeur (NHL)
Jordan Parise (WCHA)
Scott Clemmensen (NHL)
Gregg Naumenko (AHL, ECHL)

Karl Goehring (AHL, Finland)
Chris Mason (NHL)
Pekka Rinne (NHL, AHL)
Tomas Vokoun (NHL)
Scott Reid (AHL, CHL)
Jesse Deckert (WHL)

NY Islanders
Rick DiPietro (NHL)
Wade Dubielewicz (NHL, AHL)
Chris Madden (AHL)
Mike Mole (ECHL)
Billy Thompson (AHL)

NY Rangers
Chris Holt (AHL, ECHL, NHL)
Henrik Lundqvist (NHL)
Al Montoya (AHL, NHL)
Kevin Weekes (NHL)
Stephen Valiquette (Russia)
Alex Westlund (Russia)

Ray Emery (NHL)
Martin Gerber (NHL)
Jeff Glass (ECHL)
Kelly Guard (AHL)

Rejean Beauchemin (ECHL, AHL)
Robert Esche (NHL)
Martin Houle (ECHL, AHL)
Scott Munroe (CHA, AHL)
Antero Niittymaki (NHL)

Curtis Joseph (NHL)
David Leneveu (NHL, AHL)
Mike Morrison (NHL, ECHL)
Pier-Olivier Pelletier (QMJHL)
Phillippe Sauve (NHL)
Josh Tordman (QMJHL)

Patrick Ehelechner (Germany)
Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL, AHL)
Andrew Penner (AHL, ECHL)
Dany Sabourin (AHL, NHL)
Jocelyn Thibault (NHL)

San Jose
Taylor Dakers (WHL)
Thomas Greiss (Germany)
Evgeni Nabokov (NHL)
Dimitri Patzold (AHL)
Nolan Schaefer (NHL, AHL)
Vesa Toskala (NHL, AHL)

St. Louis
Jason Bacashihua (NHL, AHL)
Manny Legace (NHL)
Chris Beckford-Tseu (AHL, ECHL)
Curtis Sanford (NHL, AHL)
Marek Schwarz (Czech Republic)

Tampa Bay
Jonathan Boutin (ECHL, AHL)
Sean Burke (NHL)
Gerald Coleman (AHL, NHL)
Marc Denis (NHL)
Johan Holmqvist (Sweden)
Karri Ramo (Finland)

Jean-Sebastien Aubin (NHL, AHL)
Todd Ford (AHL, ECHL)
Jean-Francois Racine (AHL)
Andrew Raycroft (NHL, AHL)
Mikeal Tellqvist (NHL)

Wade Flaherty (AHL)
Roberto Luongo (NHL)

Brent Johnson (NHL)
Michal Neuvirth (Czech Republic Jr.)
Daren Machesney (OHL)
Maxime Daigneault (AHL, ECHL)
Olie Kolzig (NHL)

13 September 2006

Even Flyers fans are laughing

Not many people in my office are hockey fans. A few guys are sports fans in general, which means they listen to WFAN and hear about hockey once in a blue moon. Usually only when something bizarre or major is happening, because that is the only time WFAN bothers to talk about hockey. Which is probably a good thing, because Mike and the Mad Dog know as much about hockey as I do about the dietary habits of the Majestic Norwegian Moose. But I digress.

There is a guy in my office who grew up in Philly, and who's sports interests lie mostly in football and baseball, but is aware enough about hockey to be a casual Flyers fan. I used to sit near his cube, so he got a real earful about the lockout. Today he wandered down to my office for a chat.

Flyers Fan: I have two questions for you. First... what's the realistic life span of a hockey player?

Me: Life span???

FF: I mean.... career span. How long is a hockey player's career usually?

Me: Well, it depends...

FF: Well, this 15 year contract....

(I start laughing. I had no idea where he was going with this up until that point.)

FF: How old is DiPietro?

Me: Well he'll be 40 if he plays until the end of his contract.

FF: Isn't that kind of old?

Me: Let me put it this way. The best goalie in the world, actively playing, is 41. And he's got a bit of rust on him, as much as I hate to say it.

FF: Who is that?

Me: Dominik Hasek.

FF: Oh yeah.... Hasek.

Me: DiPietro isn't going to be playing until he's 40. Maybe by then he can be GM.

12 September 2006

From the "you have to be kidding me" file...

I think the stench from the sewage this spring must have gone to Charles Wang's head. This doesn't quite top firing your newly hired GM and replacing him with last season's backup goalie, but it comes pretty close.

Thank you, Mr. Wang, for giving Devils and Rangers fans something they can agree on.

11 September 2006

A Devil of a quandry

I came upstairs to write a nice, calm, rational post about the last of the big-name free-agent goalie signings (Bryzgalov and Miller) and Vokoun's big-money contract extension, but I got distracted by this. Thanks to astute reader SquishyGirl, I now have a major moral dilemma. I can't have a goalie blog and not read this book. But I gag at the thought of lining this man's pockets with even one red cent. I could buy it used... but then I'd have to wait. And my blog would not be cutting edge. (Because.... you know.... I just have my finger on the pulse of goalie related news. Ahem. Yeah.) I could steal it, as the intrepid D-Man recommended, but that goes against my moral fiber. And yes, I do have some of that. I try to get at least 15 grams a day.

My dislike for Maaaaaarrrr-ttttyyyyy admitedly has a lot to do with the fact that I am a Ranger fan. A Ranger fan living in the midst of enemy territory, where cars on the highway every morning sport the logo of the hated rivals, where people who find out I am a hockey fan immediately assume I am a Devils fan. However, there is more to it than that. He is cocky, and has the kind of face you just want to wipe the smirk off of. Even his status as goalie - and therefore a step above all other human beings- isn't quite enough to mitigate my territorial loathing of the man. Even the fact that he is a living goaltending legend isn't enough to make me part with my hard-earned cash for this book without a twinge of irrational rivalry-induced guilt. But in the end, I will probably end up taking one for the team and forcing myself to read this equivalent of supermarket-tabloid goalie-related drivel, just because no self-respecting goalie fan can pass up the opportunity to read the divinely inspired words of the Goalie God Himself, Saint Martin.

Someone please shoot me if I have the same reaction after reading this book as I had after reading Eric Lindros' book: "hey... he's really not such a bad guy after all". Really. Please. Put me out of my misery if those words leave my mouth. Or in this case, fingertips.

I'm holding every last one of you to that. Beacuse I can't resist. You all know I will probably be pre-ordering this book and will devour it the minute it arrives on my doorstep. Now please excuse me while I go look for my spine. I seem to have left it somewhere....

10 September 2006

Prospects Tournament, Day 2

Scores from yesterday's games:

DET 2 (Vicari, 19-18)
TB 1 (Ramo, 27-25)

NYR 4 (Holt, 7-3; Murray, 10-9)
ATL 5 (Turple, 28-24)

CBJ 6 (LaCosta, 27-25)
STL 2 (Schwarz, 27-21)

DAL 3 (Silverthorn, 27-27)
MIN 0 (Westblom, 34-31)

Also.... the winner of the Nordic Trophy is Färjestad.

09 September 2006

Tourney time!

The Prospects Tournament is underway! Because it took me an extra day to get my ducks in a row, this post is actually two-fold. Below are all the goalies participating, and after that... results from the first day.

Atlanta Thrashers
David Caruso (Ohio State - NCAA)
Ondrej Pavelac (Cape Breton - QMJHL)
Dan Turple (Kitchener - OHL)

Columbus Blue Jackets
Dan LaCosta (Barrie - OHL)
Steve Mason (London - OHL)

Dallas Stars
Tobias Stephan (Kloten - SUI)
Steve Silverthorn (Idaho - ECHL)

Detroit Red Wings
Jimmy Howard (Grand Rapids - AHL)
Stefan Liv (HV71 - SWE)
Dominic Vicari (Michigan State - NCAA)

Minnesota Wild (I almost typed "North Stars". Hello, what year am I in?)
Miroslav Kopriva (Austin - CHL)
Kristofer Westblom (Kelwona - WHL)

New York Rangers
Chris Holt (Charlotte - ECHL)
Al Montoya (Hartford - AHL)
John Murray (Sioux Falls - USHL)

St. Louis Blues
Reto Berra (GCK - SUI)
Marek Schwarz (Sparta Praha - CZE)

Tampa Bay Lightning
Riku Helenius (Ilves Tampere - FIN JR)
Karri Ramo (HPK Hameenlinna - FIN)

September 8th Tournament Games - Results
(Goalie's names, with shots vs saves for each game)

ATL - 4 (Caruso, 32-29)
DET - 3 (Howard, 29-25)

CBJ - 4 (LaCosta, 14-14. Mason, 12-10)
MIN - 2 (Kopriva, 26-22)

DAL - 5 (Stephan, 35-33)
STL - 2 (Berra, 35-31)

NYR - 3 (Holt, 31-29)
TB - 2 (Helenius, 35-33)
game won in OT, game-winning goal scored by Staal.

08 September 2006

The ultimate road trip

I just finished reading THN writer Laura Sullivan's book "Away Games". During the lockout, she traipsed across Europe, getting a feel for the European leagues and the impressions of the NHL players who either went "home" or tried out life in a new country and new culture for several months. The idea was fantastic. The execution left a little to be desired. While full of interesting information, eye-opening observations and unique player interviews, the writing was somewhat choppy and editorial errors abounded. (The most glaring of which was the paragraph about the Ivan "Hnilicka" Memorial. Those silly Czech names, they're all the same, right?)

Complaints aside, I completely devoured this book. As someone who already has an interest in European hockey, and wondered what the experiences of the NHLers who played there were like, this book was right up my alley. Sullivan's descriptions of the countries she visited supplemented the main purpose of the book well. I've now added Finland to the list of places I absolutely must visit before I die, with Slovakia coming in a close second. (Sweden, Russia, the Czech Republic and Germany were all on the list already). And what the heck, while I'm globe-trotting I might as well take in a game in Latvia, if only to experience the fans more than the game itself.

The disrupted flow of the book probably has something to do with the fact that Sullivan seems to have made two sweeps through the continent- first to get a look at regular season games in most of the leagues, then back again to catch playoff games. The various mid-season tournaments (Euro Tour games), and post-season international play (World Championships) were covered as well. Sullivan visited the obvious countries (Russia, Sweden, Czeh Reoulic, etc.) where the bulk of the NHL players landed, but didn't skip the more unlikely hockey destinations such as England, Hungary and Norway.

One issue the book raised several times was that of the NHL players taking jobs away from local talent. This was something I had wondered about, and though it seemed to be an underlying issue, most of the players interviewed said they were welcomed and and quickly felt part of the team, regardless of language barriers. I think I personally might have been on the disgruntled side were I living over there. There is something a little unsettling about a star player leaving his country for greener pastures, only to come back to play when those pastures lie fallow for a year. On the other hand, there were benefits, especially for those countries whose home-grown talent returned to their roots. Across the board, the general feeling seemed to be that local hockey would benefit from having its stars come home; not just financially, but also in terms of enthusiasm and participation. So in the end it's hard to say whether it was a good thing or a bad thing that so many NHLers headed across the pond. I just wish some of it would have been televised over here in North America. I watched more Discovery Channel and Law & Order that year than I had in my entire life up until that point. If this ever (God forbid!!!) happens again, I'll take the opportunity to make sure I cross off at least a few of those places off my "must visit before I die" list.

05 September 2006

Getting closer...

It won't be long now. Rookie camps are opening, then training camps will start, then the pre-season, and we'll be on our way. All of this European fare has been interesting in the interim, but I sorely miss "my NHL" (please don't sue me, Mr. Bettman). How in the world did I survive the lockout?!

Over across the pond, the Nordic Trophy games came to an end today. Unfortunately the site hasn't been updated with the final standings, but it does at least show that the championship game will be on September 9th between Färjestad and Kärpät (go weasels!).

The Russian Super Leauge's season begins on September 7th. I'll have my eye on Ak Bars Kazan, which should be interesting considering the only Russian I remember from my college days is how to read the alphabet.

But here... over here on US soil, we get a little treat. The annual Traverse City Prospects Tournament takes place in Michigan from September 8th through the 12th. Prospects representing eight NHL teams will take to the ice; Detroit, Tampa Bay, Columbus, Dallas, Atlanta, Minnesota, St. Louis and the NY Rangers. Speaking from the perspective of a Ranger fan, it will be great to get a glimpse at some of our "marquis" prospects (Montoya, Sauer, Staal, Sanguinetti, etc.) as well as some of the lesser known ones.

And the calendar drags on...

04 September 2006

Odds and Ends (and weasels)

The first part of the Euro Tour is complete, with the Russians coming out on top with 8 points. The next competition begins November 10th in Finland; The Karjala Cup (or Tournament, depending on which website you visit).

The Nordic Trophy games are coming to a close, with one game completed today (Tappara vs. Kärpät, 2-4) and four scheduled for tomorrow, the last day. As of yesterday, Färjestad was in the lead with 10 points, with Djurgården nipping at their heels with 9. Hopefully Frölunda will manage to beat Djurgården tomorrow and keep them from overtaking the top spot.

One thing of interest that I found out recently is that "Kärpät" in Finnish means "weasel". I suppose the weasel-like creature on their logo should have given it away, but you know me and my powers of observation. Interestingly, this is also Atlanta Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen's nickname. I am assuming the word "weasel" doesn't have the same negative connotations in Finland as it does here. Could you just imagine the "Detroit Weasels"? And as a nickname... well it just brings up images of Pauly Shore that I'd just as soon not remember.