Al Montoya looks to have made a convincing case for number one crease duties not just with his 20-game run last season but with every appearance this season. In preseason and even after a few nice starts so far, many of us still tread with caution, because the nature of goaltenders is an unpredictable one and Montoya's 20-game stint last season isn't enough to declare his pedestrian AHL numbers moot. But he has answered every question thus far.
So is that period of caution over? No. Or at least, caution over what level he can maintain shall persist.
There is an NHL goaltender who put up a .893 save percentage over 55 games last year with two different (albeit bad) teams. After having to compete for a backup job with a third team in training camp, that same goaltender this year is 10-1 with a .953 save percentage in 12 games at age 26.
In his previous NHL stops that goaltender, Brian Elliott, would give you little reason to expect this breakout performance. Twelve games is nothing, of course, but even a skeptic like me has been quite impressed watching him play. (Playing for a team with solid 5-on-5 work sure helps, but still.)
Elliott was at Wisconsin while Montoya was at Michigan. They're both 26, an age when goaltenders do tend to hit their groove. Are we seeing not small-sample happy blips, but the maturation of two good goalies?
- Blake Comeau on the other side: Write-ups in the Sun and Herald here, amusingly cribbed and relabeled a "staff report" by the Sporting News. Here's video of his arrival in St. Louis (coulda sworn I saw someone orbiting my house). Good for him that he lands where his parents are. And here was FlamesNation saying that it was a bet worth making for the Flames.
- The Islanders' next opponent has a fair amount of injury issues.
- It's just one win, but the Isles feel a little better about their "last nine periods" [Newsday]
- Fornabaio wraps up the Sound Tigers weekend (a loss yesterday), and shares this nice detail: David Ullstrom was back in town to watch his AHL teammates.
- The final CBC special in the tragic case of late former Islanders 1st-rounder Duncan MacPherson.
- Interesting with all the fan- and media-stirred Nino angst that the Islanders have him scheduled for an in-person signing Dec. 4, right? A subtle message from the PR side?
- More wondering about Nino: IPB | McGowan
- More footage from Brock Nelson's big weekend for North Dakota.
- Jason Spezza scored his 200th NHL goal. Mark points out the last Islanders draftee to do that all with the team was Derek King. (Who was eventually traded for a 5th round pick.)
We were also talking about the Ducks woes, so: I'll Take '3 Moves the Ducks WON'T Make' for $500 - Anaheim Calling
Just so we're clear: The Penguins find it objectionable if you collide with their goalie, and view pretty much any kind of retaliation as fair game. Irony, anyone? [War of words with Sens GM Bryan Murray going off here.] [FanShot discussion here]
Are the Caps about to fire Bruce Boudreau? And replace him with the man who committed the most detestable act of on-ice cowardice in my memory? [Update: Yep]
WSH GM George McPhee fired Bruce Boudreau this morning. Dale Hunter is the new head coach. Will be at practice this morning.
Another firing: Hurricanes replace Paul Maurice with Kirk Muller.