Week One in the Cage Match Goaltender Tournament is in the books and I couldn’t be happier. Even with the new lockout fully on it is nice to see that it isn’t getting our spirits down. Participation in the voting was pretty strong, which shows a tremendous amount of optimism that the coming season will in fact happen. Let’s keep that momentum going strong into the second week but first let’s recap what happened in Week One:
Keep in mind this tournament is based on value in one year leagues with the following categories scored: Wins, Goals Against Average, Save Percentage, Shutouts.
#1 Tuukka Rask over #8 Steve Mason – 85 votes to 3 votes.
How amazing would it have been for the first shutout in the history of the Cage Match Tournament to have been pulled off by a goalie? Sadly Rask and all of us along with him were denied that pleasure by three compassionate voters. Doesn’t it just make you sick? Be gone Steve Mason, we never wanted you here anyway.
#2 Carey Price over #7 Devan Dubnyk – 68 votes to 10 votes.
The Habs and Oilers were two of the most foul, loathsome, miserable teams in all the league last season and these are their starting goaltenders. Price is the correct choice though because he has a much stronger body of work thus far in his career. A vote for Price need not be a vote of confidence for the Habs but surely the 10 votes for Dubnyk were votes of confidence for the Oilers. Sadly, we cannot be any more certain about whether or not Dubnyk will be the Oilers’ starter as we can be about whether or not the Oilers will even be good this season. That’s a double-whammy of uncertainty and it’s why Price moves on to spin the wheel in the next round.
#3 Ilya Bryzgalov over #6 Braden Holtby – 57 votes to 22 votes.
The most common criticism voiced thus far was that Holtby deserved a better matchup – In what universe was Bryzgalov not the best matchup for him? If you have any confidence in Holtby winning the starting job in Washington full time even with his short resume and Michal Neuvirth looming then surely you can rank him ahead of Bryzgalov whose fantasy value this season may boil down to how many hilarious new team names he can provide you with. Yes Bryzgalov is guaranteed starts since there is no way Leighton is unseating him but again the only way you can say Holtby deserves a better matchup is to give him the vote of confidence as a starter, which should probably have you voting for him over Bryzgalov. For what it’s worth, I cast my vote for Holtby. I’m not even confident he will be the Capitals’ starter. I just think his upside is worth the gamble. Nevertheless, Bryzgalov escapes his first round matchup, just like he did last spring when his team bailed out his awful goaltending.
#4 Jonas Hiller over #5 Martin Brodeur – 55 votes to 27 votes.
I thought this would be closer but ultimately I agree with the consensus. Brodeur might be a living legend but he still has to answer to the fact that Father Time is still undefeated. At this point in time Hiller is the better goaltender and that’s all that matters. It isn’t like the Devils are going to be so much better than the Ducks this season that Brodeur can skate by. Both teams will probably stink, so Hiller gets the nod.
And now let’s set up this week’s matchups from the Hasek Bracket:
Fleury has big name cachet but will his brutal performance in last spring’s playoffs weigh on voters’ minds. Meanwhile, Khudobin is a long shot lottery ticket on the cusp of cashing in. Tim Thomas’ sabbatical guarantees Khudobin a slice of the coveted Bruins goaltending pie and with Rask coming off abdominal and groin troubles last season he has a chance to grab the whole thing.
Is Schneider now the full time starter in Vancouver or will he be forced to split starts with Luongo?
Do the New York Islanders even have a starter and if they do and it is Nabokov is that really a position he wants to be in?
These are the questions that make this 2-7 matchup more trouble than it probably should be.
Lehtonen just cashed in with a lucrative extension to remain in Dallas for the next six years but as the late great poet Notorious B.I.G. once said, “Mo Money, Mo Problems.” Lehtonen needs to live up to the major investment the Stars just made in him. Meanwhile, Crawford hopes to earn a similar extension with just two years remaining on his deal with Chicago.
Just like the battle between Price and Dubnyk, this matchup features the starting goaltenders of two miserable Canadian teams. Do you vote purely on team value here or will you attempt to decipher which one of these two is the better netminder?
Follow the links provided to cast your vote and make your voice heard!