Just like a goalie on a hot streak we are riding the wave of momentum. It is now Week Three in the Cage Match Goalie Tournament. Here’s a recap of what happened in Week Two:
Chalk, chalk, chalk, chalk, chalk. All you guys know is chalk. I could spare us all some time and express to you that all the top seeds in the Hasek Bracket survived their first round matchups but that’s not my style so bear with me while I run break it down anyhow.
#1 Marc-Andre Fleury over #8 Anton Khudobin – 70 votes to 7 votes.
The question, “Who is Khudobin?” was raised this week and I suppose it is a valid question, rhetorical or not. Khudobin is the Bruins backup this season what with Tim Thomas taking a sabbatical so he is a name you’ll want to get to know. The Bruins starting job is arguably even cushier than the Penguins’ so if current Bruins starter Tuukka Rask (the #1 seed in this tournament FYI) were to go down then Khudobin’s value would soar. Still, I’m not sure how many poolies would take Khudobin over Fleury even if word were come to out that Rask was killed in a freak gasoline fight accident.
#2 Cory Schneider over #7 Evgeni Nabokov – 62 votes to 9 votes.
I don’t disagree with the outcome here but I really do believe this one is closer than the vote shows. Nabokov is still a good goaltender and there is a chance that this is the year the Islanders finally become relevant again. More to the point though, Luongo still looms in Vancouver and until he is moved can we really consider Schneider the starter?
Still, last season given the split starts Schneider and Luongo ranked 10th and 11th overall based on the four scoring categories considered so Nabokov would need quite the renaissance to overtake Schneider in even the best possible scenario. So yes, it is close, or rather could be close but Schneider is the right choice. He is seemingly at worst at top 10 netminder and has plenty of upside to go with him.
#3 Kari Lehtonen over #6 Corey Crawford – 60 votes to 14 votes.
I think that poolies might be a little short-sighted in writing off Crawford here, although maybe it was simply the case of the majority thinking that Lehtonen is just a little bit better. As bad as Crawford was last season, he was also fantastic the season before. You could argue that his past two seasons are simply the case of random chance creating two extremes; the 2010-11 Crawford who was a top 10 goalie under the scoring format considered and the 2011-12 Crawford who wasn’t even a top 50 goaltender. If Crawford regresses toward the mean this season he will be about league average and perhaps slightly above given the fact that we know Chicago is going to win a lot of games.
Winning a lot of games isn’t necessarily something we can say the Dallas Stars will do this season. I’m all for considering Lehtonen a quality starting netminder but if the team in front of him sucks then he won’t be better than mediocre on the whole. I do think his injury woes are behind him but I still have a hard time believing that Lehtonen will be a goalie I can count on to put up numbers on a night to night basis. This is a situational argument but let’s assume that the choice between Lehtonen and Crawford is for your second goalie slot. I’d sooner gamble on Crawford because I can spot start him to get easy wins and shield him from tough opponents rather than spin the wheel of random excellence with Lehtonen. Because while we can bank on Lehtonen stealing a bunch of games for Dallas I can’t imagine trying to guess which games those will be.
#4 Miikka Kiprusoff over #5 Ondrej Pavelec – 55 votes to 18 votes.
This is one I adamantly disagree with. Kiprusoff is a guarantee for wins because he’s a lock for almost 70 starts per season but look at his career stats, owning Kiprusoff is like flipping a coin. Will I get the good one or the bad one? These are things I cannot answer. What I can say is that Calgary is a good bet to challenge Edmonton’s reign as the three-time defending first overall pickers and holders of the title: Worst Team in Alberta. So even if Kipper gets you 70 starts this season, will he be able to reward you with as many wins as he has historically.
Now I do get the counter argument: Pavelec has never had a season as pro that sniffs what Kipper has done in even some of his down years. That said, Pavelec is a precocious talent and arguably on his way up. His best seasons lie ahead of him so why couldn’t he have a breakout season? That of course is conjecture so instead consider this fact: Pavelec is much better at home than he is on the road.
Applying the same argument from the Lehtonen-Crawford match we can see how Pavelec could be more valuable to own than Kiprusoff. There is a somewhat reasonable expectation that Pavelec or Kipper is to be my second goaltender in this league. I can simply spot start Pavelec at home, where Winnipeg has one of the best home-ice advantages in the game and thus accrue big numbers out of a mediocre goaltender. Sure Kipper has game stealing abilities and he definitely has top 10 upside but if you gamble and lose you’ll wind up spinning that same wheel of random excellence that Lehtonen would have you spinning. At least with Pavelec you know where you are getting value and just to be clear, while it is still only a suppositional argument to say that Pavelec will break out this season, the chance is still there.
Alas, it does not matter. Kiprusoff moves on and we have a new set of matchups to consider.
This week features the opening round matches in the Sawchuk Bracket:
Fellow Columbus netminder Steve Mason faced never stood a chance in his 1-8-matchup earlier in the tournament. How will Bobrovsky fare against Miller? You decide.
How will Halak’s status as a timeshare-goaltender affect his outcome against Theodore, the official number one guy for the surprisingly feisty Panthers?
It’s the battle of the Firsty-Firsties!
Hopefully this doesn’t affect the voting but just between you and me, I think this is the single tightest matchup so far.
As before, please make your votes based on the scoring categories of: Wins, Goals Against Average, Save Percentage and Shutouts.
Now follow those links to cast your votes and make your voices heard!