January 10, 2014

steve laidlaw

2014-01-10

If you recall, a few weeks ago I made a few bets on the Leafs to miss the playoffs including one involving the framing of a certain photo. Let's just say I am thoroughly enjoying the Leafs' current freefall, which was kind of the point. The Leafs have now given up at least five goals in three straight games and their thus far otherworldly goaltending is coming back down to Earth.

 

James Reimer and the Leafs got walloped by the shorthanded Hurricanes last night, moving them into a three-way tie for the final playoff spot amid the Eastern Conference Wild Card muck. For Reimer this was his first start of the New Year and this result will not help him gain any headway in the fight for crease time. Depending on your league format it may be time to start looking elsewhere.

 

For instance, Hurricanes backup Anton Khudobin is the latest guy to come out of nowhere and display dominance, although in this case nowhere really means the IR. He is now 6-0 on the season and continues to look like a threat to Cam Ward's throne (one he has somehow built out of mediocrity). Or this is the single greatest trade marketing campaign I've ever seen. In any case, Khudobin clearly has some talent and warrants a pickup if you are hurting in goal.

 

 

Now, the Leafs goaltending is proof that runs like this aren't sustainable and I can't say I like Khudobin's numbers at the lower levels but I won't snuff my nose at a productive goaltender available for free off the waiver wire.

 

On this topic of goaltending, I received an interesting question from the comments in last week's ramblings asking if we would see a record number of goalies appear in games this season. Considering the number of goalie injuries that have taken place and the ridiculous number of backups and backups of backups that have stepped up and played well you might think we would be close to the record. Well so far, after all the carnage, 79 goalies have appeared in games this season, which sits 15 behind the record of 94.

 

I only went back to 1997-98 because that's as far back as NHL.com's stats go but since that time period encompasses the end of expansion to the league as now constructed it seems likely that the record would have occurred during that time frame. Anyway, the point is that despite all the injuries we have not seen an inordinate number of appearances by different goalies so far. It just happens that many of those various goalies have played exceptionally well.

 

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Elias Lindholm was recalled on Wednesday and made the most of his return scoring one goal and two assists. He was only skating with Zach Boychuk and Brett Sutter but he also skated over five minutes on the top power play unit where two of his three points came. 

 

I assume he goes on a nice little run before fading back to irrelevancy, especially when