Top Ten Goalie Questions for 2009-10 Season

Anderson knows he needs to get down to business in Colorado if he wants to prove he's a true number one.

Anderson knows he needs to get down to business in Colorado if he wants to prove he's a true number one.

10.  Is Craig Anderson ready for prime time?  He showed he could be the go-to guy when Tomas Vokun was hurt last year in Florida and now he gets the chance to prove it in Colorado.  But Peter Budaj is ready to show he can still be the guy if Anderson falters. Continue reading


Ty Conklin Needs Potty Break but Still Wins Another Outdoor Game

In the spirit of the Winter Classic played outdoors today in Wrigley Field, I figured if Ty Conklin and Cristobal Huet could play in the freezing cold of Chicago I could at least write outside in the (relative) winter cold of northern California.

It wasn’t exactly the type of New Years classic put on by the Montreal Canadiens and Moscow Red Army in 1975 and it might take some time for it to become a warm memory for Huet but it was a lot of fun to watch.

Conklin makes a save with Wrigley's ivey-covered walls as a backdrop.

Conklin makes a save with Wrigley's ivy-covered walls as a backdrop.

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Goalie Dilemma in Chicago Gets More Dilemma-y

Everyone following the NHL knows the Chicago Blackhawks signed Cristobal Huet to a big free agent contract ($22.5M for four years) this summer so we’ve all been waiting to see what GM Dale Tallon was going to do with Nikolai Khabibulin (last year of a $27M four-year deal).  The Hawks couldn’t possibly support $12+M on two goalies, could they?  Khabibulin cleared waivers earlier in the season so Tenders Lounge was expecting to see a trade or possibly a loan to a team in the Russian league.

The goalie stories out of Chicago have grown over the past couple weeks as Huet’s play has been good (3-2-1, 2.45GAA, .916%) but Khabibulin’s has been great (4-1-3, 2.20GAA, .927%, 1 SO).  Earlier this week I sat down to watch Khabibulin and the Hawks play the Bruins.  First let me say that Tim Thomas was great in net for the B’s.  But Khabibulin was clearly the star of the game, even in a shootout loss, making one of the best saves of the season on Marc Savard in OT.  Apologies to Khabibulin as I could not find a photo of that save and chose to use a shot of P.J. Axelsson during the shootout.  Tenders Lounge has a policy of never showing a goalie being scored on but technically this photo was taken just before Axelsson netted the game-winner.


Alternatively you can watch the save from the NHL YouTube Highlight video by forwarding to the 5:00 mark of this video:

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Tour of NHL Goalie Masks

Sports Illustrated provided a pretty good tour around (almost) all of the masks in the league.  If you get to Jose Theodore’s Capitals mask and think “that’s just an Avs mask with a Caps decal added to it” you’re right.  Apparently a new one showed up but didn’t fit and had to be sent back.  I love that Marty Turco has home and away masks.  I still don’t know why Tim Thomas has the extra wires at the bottom of his cage.  With all the incredible detail in some of the masks, Marty Brodeur’s almost seems like a vintage design now.  Putting a Rangers’ jersey on the Statue of Liberty is just plain cool… I’m surprised it hasn’t been done before.  Apparently Ty Conklin liked Marc-Andre Fleury’s mask so much when he was in Pittsburgh last year he thought it would look good in Detroit colors this year.  Cristobal Huet’s new Blackhawks mask isn’t completely original but it sure is beautiful.  And after all these years, Cujo’s is still classic.

Click here to see the whole slide show.

New Issue of Goalies World Sheds Light on Free Agent Signings

I’d like to say I’ve deliberately ignored the free agent goalie signings because I was coming up with brilliant analysis, but the truth is I was water skiing at a friend’s cottage on Go Home Lake.  Taking time away from internet connectivity was rewarded today when I received the newest issue of Goalies World magazine and its unique statistical review of all NHL goalies.

Goalies World is a technical goalie’s dream.  Each issue dedicates a dozen pages to in-depth analysis of a particular goalie’s style of play… I highly recommend it for any competitive goalie, or coach/parent thereof.  it also provides a very unique statistical ranking based on things like number of “hot” games and games “stolen” a victories.  It’s these comprehensive rankings that shed some interesting light on the free agency signing of the past two weeks.  I’ve listed the signings in order of ranking by Goalies World.

Cristobal Huet, signed by Chicago, Goalie World ranking 13th:  Based on GW’s rankings, Huet, and not Jose Theodore, was the top free unrestricted free agent goalie.  Was Huet greedy in his negotiations with the Capitals?  Was George McPhee stingy?  Is Nikolai Khabibulin on his way out in Chicago?  We probably won’t learn the truth on the first two questions but it may not be long before the last one is answered.  Huet was under-rated in Montreal so I was happy to see him make the most of his opportunity in Washington’s playoff run.  I wasn’t thrilled to see the writing on the wall for Ollie Kolzig but I was looking forward to seeing Huet’s performance next year on a team working its way into the top tier of the league.  The Black Hawks are also moving in the right direction but they’re a year or two behind the Caps, so Huet should see a lot of rubber.  FYI, Khabibulin ranked 27th and has been the subject of rumors that the Hawks want to move his hefty salary.

Jose Theodore, signed by Washington, GW ranking 25th:  Theodore has had his ups and downs since winning the Hart Trophy in 2002 but he appears to be on an upswing right now which will be good news for the Caps.  GM McPhee first tried to re-sign Huet (how hard he tried we’re not sure) and when that failed he went straight for Theodore.  2006-07 was not a good year for Theodore as he became a $6M backup to Peter Budaj.  But Avs’ GM Francois Guigere’s faith in Theodore was rewarded last season when Theodore bounced back with a strong season and even stronger stretch run that led the Avs to a first round win over the Wild.  The Caps also had a strong stretch run that has elevated expectations for next year in Washington.  My guess is Alexander Ovechkin’s outgoing personality and love of the game will be all it takes to keep Theodore focused and having fun on the ice.  If that happens the Capitals should not only repeat in the Southeast but should go further in the playoffs.

Ty Conklin, signed by Detroit, GW ranking 26th:  The outdoor game against Buffalo coincided with Conklin grabbing the starting position in Pittsburgh when Marc-Andre Fleury went down with his ankle injury.  Not only did Conklin keep the Pens from free-falling during Fleury’s absence but they actually climbed up in the standings as Conklin went on a nine-game winning streak.  Detroit should be a perfect fit for Conklin.  He can be a frequently-used backup to Chris Osgood, who probably is not the type to handle a Brodeur-like workload.

Marc-Andre Fleury, re-signed by Pittsburgh, GW ranking 29th:  Re-signing Evgeni Malkin was clearly priorty #1 for the Pens but securing Fleury for the foreseeable future had to be #1A.  Fleury’s ranking in Goalie World is lower than you’d expect given his playoff performance but that’s because he missed a good chunk of the season with his ankle injury.  Fleury’s progress over the past four seasons has more than validated his #1 overall selection in 2003 and his signature on a Penguin contract should result in his name engraved on the Cup in the next year or two. 

Olaf Kolzig, signed by Tampa, GW ranking 32nd:  Until he signed with the Lightning, this 1990 hockey card sums up almost everything you needed to know about ‘Ollie the Goalie’.  Kolzig has been the Capitals’ goalie since they were still wearing their original jerseys and NHLers were still wearing Cooper goalie equipment.  He was supposed to be a Cap for life but things ended poorly for Ollie after he had a sub-Kolzig season and the Caps handed the starters job to Huet for their playoff run.  According to the Goalies World ranking, Kolzig had 11 “bad” games.  But his signing is great news for the Bolts as they try to rebound from a last-place finish and their new owners try to win back their fans.  Mike Smith will be trying to prove he’s big-time starter after years in Marty Turco’s shadow and Kolzig will be trying to prove he can still carry a team.  George McPhee might want to call in sick the first time Tampa’s in town next season, or at least be prepared for an Ollie love-in from Caps fans.

Alex Auld, signed by Ottawa, GW ranking 35th:  Auld didn’t get off to a great start in Phoenix and was the odd man out when the Coyotes picked up Ilya Bryzgalov, but Auld certainly made the most of his chance in Boston.  He kept the Bruins in playoff contention when Tim Thomas went out with a mid-season injury.  The Senators offer Auld the chance for a bit of stability after bouncing from Vancouver to Florida before his stint in Phoenix.  Gerber should be able to handle about 60 games so Auld’s job will be to deliver a couple dozen solid starts as the Sens try to rebound from a disastrous season.  If Auld doesn’t skip practice or get in fights with Ottawa-area drivers I’m sure the Sens will consider his signing to be a success.

Patrick Lalime, signed by Buffalo, GW ranking 43rd:  Lalime has always had what I considered to be the best mask in the league, even going back to his days in Pittsburgh.  Actually, I liked it so much I copied it for my own mask.  Lalime kind of disappeared after he was chased out of Ottawa, but to be fair, injuries took their tole on him.  His play with the Hawks was decent and while that’s not a resounding endorsement it’s a lot better than his reviews in St. Louis.  In Buffalo he will be replacing Jocelyn Thibault, (ranked 59th in GW) and giving Ryan Miller a break about a dozen nights per year.

Andrew Raycroft, signed by Colorado, GW ranking 57th:  Raycroft may be one of the nicest guys in the league so I hope Denver works out for him.  After setting the Leafs record for wins in ’06-07 he was the target of vicious Leafs fans and media right from day one of last season.

Curtis Joseph, signed by Toronto, GW ranking 68th:  Cujo only appeared in 9 games with the Flames, almost half of which were in relief, but he played well given his inactivity for the first two thirds of the season.  The truth is the Leafs could have used just about anyone to play the dozen or so games that Vesa Toskala will grudingly sit out, but I’m excited to see Cujo back in a Leafs jersey to finish his career because (and I think he’ll be the first to agree) he never should have left in the first place.  Cujo practiced in his barn through most of last winter until getting the call from the Flames and played well enough in a handful of games to generate speculation he might start the playoffs.  So my analysis of this signing is that of a fan… welcome home Cujo!

Marc Denis, signed by Montreal, GW ranking 75th:  Things can only get better for Denis.  After years of being an under rated workhorse in Columbus, Denis was supposed to carry the Lightning back to the Cup after Khabibulin left for Chicago.  Instead he encountered Dr. Hook, in the form of coach Tortorella and never lived up to expectations.  Denis basically is going to a “can’t lose” situation in Montreal… either he plays in the AHL where he was going to be buried with the Bolts organization, or he pushes Halak

By the way, Ray Emery and Wade Dubielewicz, who both signed with Russian teams and were featured in a separate post, had GW rankings 46th and 50th respectively.  When you look at the rankings and how they compare to who signed where and for how much you have to give a lot of credit to Goalies World publisher Gilles Moffet for his unique ranking system.

Goalie Photos (and cool jerseys) From World Championships

Want to see some really cool throwback jerseys from around the world? Want to see what your favorite goalie looks like when he combines his NHL colors with his national colors? (sometimes it’s a natural fit and sometimes it’s just u-g-l-y) Want to see some goalies you’ve never heard of but are shining on a world stage? Check out the photos I’ve pulled from the official IIHF site. All photos are courtesy of the IIHF and Hockey Hall of Fame.

Canadian Cam Ward’s Hurricane equipment is a perfect fit with his national jersey.




Really cool throwback jerseys from Finland.  Almost the Suomi Penguins.




More famous on their soccer team but the powder blues of Italia look great! The big ad on the ref’s belly?… not so much.




Martin Gerber reprising his ’06 Olympic role when he stoned Canada in a 2-0 win.  Might the gold Senators trim be an indicator of how Suisse fares in this tournament?  No, of course not.



Not a throwback jersey but I love the old leather-style coloring of the gloves and pads on Slovakia’s Robert Kristan.




Norwegian goalies apparently feel the need to wander… probably safer to meander around their fjords (I just wanted to say “fjords” in a goalie blog)



Yikes! Yellow, black, red, white and blue, oh my.  No problem for opposing shooters to see Tim Thomas in the USA net.




In the last three months Cristobal Huet has played for the Habs, the Caps and now the French all without needing to change his gloves and pads.  Convenient, n’est pa?



Good grief… every spring the Germans remind us of the horrible Canucks jerseys from the 80’s.  And every spring they end up with the same result as those Canucks.



Sharks’ German third-stringer Dimitrij Patzgold looking much better in the German throwback jersey.




Cam Ward wearing Canada’s throwback jersey, a.k.a. their old Canada Cup jersey.  Just kind of screams “we’re going to win and you’re not”.  Unless you’re the Soviets and it’s 1981 and… ugh, never mind.



Latvian fans are rabid and it looks like one of these women missed her vaccination shot. I sat in a sea of Latvians at the Torino games and had the most fun of my Olympic visit. I think I sat behind that guy in the hat.



Check out the official IIHF site for all the photos from every game.