Not Unlike the Waves

Justin Goldman




I hate the dog days of summer. They breed suspicion and skepticism in my mind about even the most elite NHL goalies. I've discussed the likes of Turco, Elliott, Mason, Ward and Fleury over the last few months and all I'm left with are even more questions. Sure, some are easier to solve than others, but somehow it's always you and I getting stuck with the "damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't" ones.


They're not like unlike the waves. Every hour of every day these questions smash and crash against your mind, slowly eroding your confidence and clarity over time. Without warning they forcefully try to pull you in, only to spit you back out again. And all I can do is toss out a lifesaver every Monday afternoon in an attempt to reel you back in.


I've been reading a lot of literature lately about two Russians facing more questions than usual – Semyon Varlamov and Evgeni Nabokov. Upon reading a member's fantasy dilemma regarding these two goalies on Saturday, I was excited to extrapolate on them, for I consider them to be on complete opposite sides of the goaltending spectrum.


One is a nine-year veteran with plenty of big-game experience that happens to be coming off the worst playoff performance of his career. The other has started five regular season games, only to take over the Caps' crease in the second game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He won the first series in shocking manner, only to crash in a fury of glorious flames in Game 7 to the eventual Champions. And that's just scratching the surface of their differences.


The questions surrounding these guys from a fantasy perspective have no answers. Will Varlamov blow teams away like rookies Pekka Rinne and Steve Mason did, or will he stumble in a typical sophomore jinx fashion? Will he STEAL the job from Jose Theodore or just wait patiently for it to come his way? And what of that Michal Neuvirth fellow?


Will Nabokov bounce back after the poor playoff series against Anaheim? Will the persistent trade rumors cause him to live up to waiving his no-trade clause? Will he be emotionally distracted from all of this? Is he even being shopped right now, or is it a wait-and-see situation? And can we really expect 47 wins by playing in 75+ games???


The Hockey News seems to think so. They have Nabokov slated to win an astonishing 47 wins, combined with seven shutouts, a 2.39 GAA and a .910 save percentage. For Varlamov, they think 37 wins with seven shutouts, a 2.35 GAA and a .918 is in the cards for the true rookie goaltender.


Now while I don't disagree with these predictions because, well, they're predictions, I struggle to comprehe