We’re a few days into the season and we’re already seeing goaltending get impacted by the shortened season. Studs have started out as duds and the meek might be inheriting the goaltending Earth. Players like Cam Ward, Mike Smith and Henrik Lundqvist have just been awful so far. But is it them or the team around them?
The reason why Ward’s stat lines are looking more like June Ward are that his defensemen are doing a poor job of helping him out. I reviewed the highlights of the loss to Tampa Bay and noticed this on three of the four goals he allowed. Twice a forward got behind a defender which led to easy goals. The third time, Ward (ESPN ADP: 61) thought he had the puck frozen under him but it popped loose and the blueliners couldn’t find it.
Analysis: Ward’s numbers look bad but it’s not his fault. He’s still worth keeping in your lineup.
For Smith, his game film didn’t look much better. I checked out the tape against Chicago when he allowed six goals and saw some frightening things. The Coyote defense had all four guys on a penalty kill looking one direction and no one picked up on the forward cutting in from the opposite side of the ice for an easy goal. The same thing happened on the ‘Hawks’ sixth goal of the game as well. On Chicago’s third goal, the Coyotes lost track of Marian Hossa high in their own defensive zone and Hossa burned them badly.
The worst part was on Chicago’s fifth goal when Smith (ESPN ADP:29) had the right position to play a low shot close to the post on the short side. Somehow that puck had enough steam to trickle through his legs and end up about two inches behind the goal line.
Analysis: The Phoenix defense isn’t helping him at all and this stands to be a long, difficult season in the desert for Smith if he keeps making mistakes. He could be bought low in a trade if you want to roll the dice that the Dogs defense pulls it together. If he continues to falter, Jason LaBarbera is the backup in Phoenix.
Lundqvist fared poorly against Pittsburgh and the tape shows why. Unlike Smith, he didn’t really give up a soft goal but was beaten cleanly on a slapshot from about 40 feet out. Lundqvist’s defensemen seem to have a habit of going about half-speed when they need to be at full. An unfinished check let a Penguin crash the net and since the Rangers were slow to get back to the crease, a second one got a whack at the puck and five-holed Lundqvist. On a power play, all three Rangers in the defensive zone were caught standing still while the Penguins executed a cross-ice pass that led to a goal. No skates were moving nor were their sticks.
Analysis: The Rangers need to get their feet moving and play a more complete game to get into the win column for the first time in 2013. Lundqvist (ESPN ADP: 7.2) is playing okay but the rest of the team around him isn’t getting it done so far with an uninspired effort.
By comparison, Craig Anderson of Ottawa (ESPN ADP: 127) and Corey Crawford of Chicago (ESPN ADP:187) are each undefeated in two and three starts, respectively.
We’ve also noticed a couple trends that are worth mentioning as well.
We’ve seen a couple of shutouts get broken late in games. Ryan Miller lost his with a couple minutes to go and we saw Kari Lehtonen miss out on his with less than four seconds left.
Leads don’t seem to be safe as we’ve seen a three-goal third periods four times in as many days this season. Tampa has pulled it twice in their two games, so keep an eye out for them being that kind of team. It impacts goaltending since the momentum is always up for grabs and these quick bursts can take a good start and make it just average.
Leave your goaltender questions below and good luck this week.