Whether you miss the days of opening the Saturday newspaper’s sports section or you’re not old enough to realize that was the reality for the rest of us, craving hockey content will continue to be a constant. In an effort to help you find what you’re looking for just in time to unwind, you can now expect to see the latest THW Goalie Report published every weekend.
So, which of last week’s stories proved worthy of a write-up? These are the ones that topped my list through Nov. 12.
NHL Goaltending Stat Leaders
Nearly 40 goalies have now played at least six games or more this season. A justifiable qualifying requirement to pit that group against each other when it comes to who leads the league in wins (W), goals-against average (GAA), save percentage (SV%), shutouts (SO), and goals saved above expected per 60 (GSAx/60).
W: Frederik Andersen (9)
GAA: Sergei Bobrovsky (1.73)
SV%: Sergei Bobrovsky (.946)
SO: Jacob Markström (4)
GSAx/60: Sergei Bobrovsky (2.068)
If you’ve been following these reports, it’s starting to become clear that a pattern has emerged when reflecting upon the league leaders. Those who started the season off strong continue to find effective ways to maintain their pace.
Then again, though, don’t be surprised to see some slip out of position and make way for those climbing up the rankings. After all, it’s an 82-game season and every contest brings about that potential.
Andersen Continues to Amaze in Carolina
Whether it’s been the change of scenery, a better defensive system, or simply the drive to prove any skeptics wrong, Frederik Andersen has been beyond impressive in his first year since being acquired by the Carolina Hurricanes. So much so that he leads the league in a number of major stat categories, when compared to those with his current workload.
Not only did he start the season strong, but he continues to dominate throughout it. In fact, only two netminders in NHL history have ever begun a season with more success than Andersen through a 10-game sample size. 17 saves against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Nov. 9 didn’t steal the show, but each stop was necessary towards securing the 2-1 overtime win.
If that wasn’t enough, earning his ninth victory to kickoff 2021-22 set a new Hurricanes record. Andersen surpassed both James Reimer (2020-21) and Martin Gerber (2005-06), who were tied atop that list with eight through their first 10 of those seasons. If Andersen can continue to win in this manner, there’s sure to be more history made along the way.
Fucale Finally Gets His NHL Debut
Selected in the second round by his hometown Montreal Canadiens back in 2013, expectations were high for Zach Fucale. He enjoyed an illustrious career in the juniors, including the 2013 QMJHL Championship, 2013 Memorial Cup, and 2015 World Junior Championship Gold Medal. Yet, nearly a decade after being drafted, he hadn’t cracked an NHL roster.
Following eight years of bouncing around the minors, he finally landed with the Washington Capitals organization prior to 2020-21. Starting the 2021-22 season with the Hershey Bears, Fucale earned a 1.73 GAA and .933 SV% en route to a 3-0-2 record. Good enough to deserve a call-up, when the Capitals needed some additional support in net.
On Nov. 11, Fucale made his NHL debut against the Detroit Red Wings. A special moment in and of itself, but his performance elevated the experience. He stopped all 21 shots faced, achieving a 2.5 GSAx throughout the 2-0 shutout victory. Perhaps, a sign of things to come for the 26-year-old.
Quick Experiencing a Resurgence in Los Angeles
It would be fair to say that the last few seasons haven’t gone to plan for Jonathan Quick. The reality is, he’s an ageing star who continues to battle injuries. Plus, he’s on a lineup that has experienced a justifiable downturn following a decade full of winning through the 2010s.
Entering 2021-22, expectations were far from high for the Los Angeles Kings. Yet, they’re finding a way to surprise the Pacific Division and Quick is definitely doing his part. While he and Cal Petersen have mostly shared the net to this point, Quick has seen a noticeable improvement over his slow start.
Now riding a four-game winning streak, Quick stopped 67 of 68 last week alone when he defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs (Nov. 8) and Ottawa Senators (Nov. 11). Good for one shutout, a 0.986 SV%, and over a 3.000 GSAx/60 through that span. If the 35-year-old can continue to perform like he’s back to being in his 20s, the Kings will be all the better for it.
A Busy Weekend Across the NHL
Typically the case for the NHL schedule, this weekend will be packed with gameplay throughout the league. As the best teams continue to establish new streaks, those that are struggling will try whatever it takes to break theirs.
All the while, the goalies that each respective club decides to start will prove to be as pivotal a decision as any. It goes without saying that success in sports requires a collective effort, but there’s no denying the influence that a goalie can have in hockey.
Will it be proven a superstar that steals the show this weekend or another debut that demands our attention?
Freelance thinker, paying too much attention to digital aesthetic. Oxford comma enthusiast. Spider-Man supporter. Sports fan, with two favourite hockey teams. If the Blackhawks and Maple Leafs ever meet in the Stanley Cup Final, you can find me wherever they’re playing that night.
Find me and more of my work at mralwayswrite.com.