The Scotiabank North Division is one of the most offensively gifted divisions in NHL history. With six of the top 10 goal scorers in the league in the division, goaltending is vastly important in the high-scoring North. So, which teams are in the best and worst position in net?
#7 – Ottawa Senators
Ottawa invested in goaltending this summer, signing Matt Murray to a four-year, $25 million contract. However, Matt Murray has been hot and cold for the Senators. Through 17 starts, Murray has a .888 save percentage and a 3.55 GAA. However, there has been eight games where Murray has held the opposing team to three or less goals.
Murray continues to improve and will hopefully find a more consistent game going forward.
His backup, Marcus Hogberg is much worse. In seven starts, Hogberg has an NHL worst .859 save percentage and a 4.34 GAA. Hogberg has really struggled and has given up five or more in four of his seven starts.
Honestly, his play has been terrible and if I were Pierre Dorian, I’d be looking at Joey Daccord to see what he can do in the backup role.
#6 – Edmonton Oilers
There were a lot of high-profile free agent goaltenders available in the off-season so, when the Oilers decided to resign Mike Smith, a lot of fans were left shaking their heads.
After being on Long Time Injury Reserve (LTIR) for the first month of the season, Mike Smith made his return and has started eight games since. He currently has a .938 save percentage and a 1.87 GAA along with a 6-2 record.
However, don’t let the numbers fool you. While 38-year-old Mike Smith is playing very well, the odds of him keeping this up is unlikely.
Because of Smith’s injury, Mikko Koskinen was the day one starter and has started 14 games. He has a .897 save percentage and a 3.39 GAA. While these aren’t bad numbers, Koskinen struggles to steal a game and relies on the Oiler’s high-powered offense to secure the victory.
#5 – Vancouver Canucks
After letting Jacob Markstrom walk in free agency, there was a lot of questions around the goaltending future in Vancouver.
Thatcher Demko started slow for the Canucks but has been steadily improving. In 15 starts, Demko has a .907 save percentage and a 3.06 GAA. However, in his last five starts, he has a .924 save percentage.
Similar to Matt Murray in Ottawa, Thatcher isn’t the problem, but it would be nice to see him be a bit more consistent.
In the backup role, the Canucks brought in Braden Holtby. Holtby is playing well for the Canucks and has a .915 save percentage and a 2.56 GAA in 10 starts. Holtby has been good but it is clear that the Canucks want Demko to be the go-to-guy, thus limiting his playtime.
#4 – Calgary Flames
While goaltending in Calgary has improved this season, its still not where Flame’s fans and front office would like it to be.
Newly acquired, Jacob Markstrom has been good but not great for the Flames with a .909 save percentage and a 2.87 GAA. Markstrom is winning games, going 8-6-1 in 15 starts but he is not stealing games like he did with the Vancouver Canucks last season.
Backup David Rittich has struggled. A former All-Star, Rittich has a decent .904 save percentage and a 2.92 GAA. However, in eight starts this season, Rittich has won just two going 2-6-1.
Big save Dave has not been up to form and will need to step up if the Flames have any aspirations to make the playoffs.
#3 – Montreal Canadiens
Despite Carey Price’s recent slump, Montreal Canadiens fans do not need to panic. While Price is 1-4-1 in his last six games, this seems to be a common theme.
Since 2017, Price has traditionally had a mid-season slump before returning to form and finishing the season strong. Expect the former Hart Trophy winner to return to his ways before long and get the Canadiens back on track.
While Price has struggled, newly acquired backup Jake Allen has been great. With a .929 and a 2.12 GAA, Allen has proven that he can have perform under the bright lights in Montreal and has been a standout for the floundering Canadiens as of late.
#2 – Toronto Maple Leafs
Plain and simple, the Maple Leafs have one of the best tandems in the NHL right now. Frederik Anderson is coming off an All-Star season and is 11-3-2 in 16 starts this season. While not jumping off the page statistically, Freddy has been making big saves when it matters, which is a big part of the reason why he’s currently No. 2 in the league in wins.
On their back end, they have one of the most underrated backups in the NHL in Jack Campbell.
Despite limited action due to an injury, Campbell is off to an incredible start for the Leafs. Currently 3-0-0 in his first three starts, he is sporting a 1.33 GAA and an impressive .951 save percentage with one shutout.
#1 – Winnipeg Jets
What’s not to like about the goaltending duo in the Winnipeg? Connor Hellebuyck is the reigning Vezina Trophy winner and is showing that he is one of the best goaltenders in the NHL.
With a .915 save percentage and a 2.59 GAA, Hellebuyck is the best starter, statistically, in the high-scoring North and it’s not particularly close. He has also won 10 of his first 17 starts, helping the Jets close in on second place in the North.
Backup Laurent Brossoit has also been solid for the Jets. Despite playing a more limited role in the shortened season, Brossoit has been stellar in four starts, going 3-1 and sporting a .935 save percentage and a 2.24 GAA.
While Winnipeg’s goaltending has always been a bright spot, their tandem has already proven that they can steal games for the Jets, which will be especially important down the stretch.