During the 2009-2010 season, Tuukka Rask started 39 games, while Tim Thomas started 43. Thomas, who was the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, was forced to take a backseat to the rookie. But this season, Rask is 0-2 with a 3.54 GAA and a .894 SV%, while Thomas is a perfect 6-0, with a remarkable 0.50 GAA and .984 SV% to go along with three shutouts, including two straight. He’s allowed just three goals in six games and should continue to start more often than Rask especially if he stays this hot.
Last Tuesday during warmups, Craig Anderson injured his knee. While a timetable for Anderson’s return is still not known, the good news is that he will not require surgery. Peter Budaj will take his place as the primary backstopper in his absence. This is Budaj’s sixth season with Colorado, and he has been given countless chances to be the starter but has never been very consistent. In 2006-2007, he posted a 31-16 record, but it has been downhill from there. So far, he’s gone 2-0-1 in Anderson’s absence, but he has allowed 10 goals in those three games. John Grahame (remember him, Lightning and Hurricanes fans?) will be the backup for now. He has not played in the NHL since the 2007-2008 season, but will definitely get a few starts, especially on back-to-back nights. How much he will play depends on how long Anderson will be out.
Detroit Red Wings
Jimmy Howard, who took over last year as the starter in Detroit, has gone 4-0-1 so far in five starts this season. He has played much better than Chris Osgood, but Osgood has started the past two games because of Howard’s back injury. Osgood looked sharp in stopping 23 of 25 shots in a 5-2 win over Nashville on Saturday, but he was forced to leave Monday’s practice with a groin injury. Howard is ready to go now, and should be in net against Calgary on Wednesday. Detroit has three road games in four nights on the west coast, so Joey MacDonald, who was called up, could get a start on the road trip.
Sergei Bobvrosky has started eight of the Flyers’ 11 games so far this season, with a very respectable 6-2 record with a 2.44 GAA and a .917 SV%. Bobrovsky stopped 26 of 28 shots Monday night in a 3-2 win over Carolina, his fourth win in a row. Brian Boucher, who was thought to be the obvious choice for starter when Michael Leighton was injured, has started only four games with a 1-2-1 record. Leighton has started skating with the team, but is still about three weeks away from a return. It will be interesting to see who remains the Flyers’ backup when he does return.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Bolts are off to a hot start at 7-2-1, even though they have split the goaltending chores up the middle. Mike Smith has started four games, while Dan Ellis has started three. Smith is 4-0, but his record is deceiving as he also has a 3.59 GAA and a .868 SV%. He has only allowed less than three goals once in six appearances. In his last start, he allowed three goals on seven shots in twelve minutes before being pulled in favor of Ellis, but the Lightning came back for a 5-3 win over the Penguins. Ellis may only be 3-2-1, but he has a 2.37 GAA, and a .914 SV%. He has been especially strong in his last two outings, stopping all 24 shots in 47 minutes after replacing Smith in the aforementioned game and then following that up with a 3-0 shutout over the Coyotes on Saturday. Ellis appears to have the upper hand for now.
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