Tomas Vokoun missed the last game with an upper-body injury, so Scott Clemmensen started in his place. Vokoun stopped 20 of 21 shots in a tough 2-1 shootout loss to the Lightning on Friday. This was his first quality game in a while, as he has allowed three or more goals in seven of his previous eight games. Clemmensen was thus given his chance, but he hasn’t been consistent. He allowed two goals on eight shots against his former team (the Devils) on Sunday and was pulled after one period. Rookie Jacob Markstrom received his first taste of action, allowing two goals on 14 shots in two periods before getting saddled with the loss. Markstrom was sent back down to the minors on Monday, meaning Vokoun is ready to play and will probably get the start Tuesday against the Rangers.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Jonas Gustavsson is just 6-13-2 this season with a 3.28 GAA and an .890 SV% allowing 18 goals in his past four games. He has also only started twice this month and may even be headed for the minors soon. J.S. Giguere hasn’t been great, and allowed five goals in a 6-4 loss to the Hurricanes on Monday night, but he has been better than Gustavsson. The Leafs also recalled James Reimer, who filled in admirably when Giguere was injured, going 4-2 while allowing more than four goals only once in six starts. Reimer will probably get the start on Tuesday at Tampa Bay, and if he plays well, we could see a bit more of him down the stretch.
Before Saturday’s game against Toronto, the Caps’ three different goalies each received the decision in three straight games. Michal Neuvirth was pulled after the first period of a 3-2 overtime loss to the Flyers last Tuesday due to suffering a lower-body injury. He will not be back until after the All-Star break. In his place, Braden Holtby has been recalled. Holtby has started the last three games for the Caps, going 2-0-1 while allowing just three goals. Holtby played well on Monday, stopping 28 of 29 Ranger shots before falling 2-1 in a shootout. Semyon Varlamov has lost his last three in a row, allowing eight goals in eight periods. He came in relief after Neuvirth went down last Tuesday, stopping 20 of 22 shots, but receiving the loss in overtime. I think Varlamov will get the start Wednesday, the Caps’ last game before the All-Star break, and then the Caps will have to wait until after the break to see what Neuvirth’s status is before deciding what to do with Holtby.
San Jose Sharks
The Sharks have been swimming with a two-goalie tandem this season, but they have been forced to dramatically deviate from the plan recently. Antero Niittymaki was placed on IR after injuring his groin during Thursday’s practice in Vancouver, so the Sharks had to summon Jordan White from the nearby University of British Columbia to back up Antti Niemi. On Saturday, it was 18-year-old J.P. Anderson’s turn to back up Niemi, as the OHL’s Mississauga Ice Dogs’ young keeper got to put on a teal-trimmed uniform and cap to watch the Sharks play the Wild. In case you’re wondering who Wednesday’s lucky backup will be, Alex Stalock is expected to be called up from the Sharks’ AHL affiliate in Worcester. Niittymaki is eligible to come off IR on Thursday, but the Sharks don’t play again until after the All-Star break.
Evgeni Nabokov gets his own section due to his refusal to go away after three days. By now, every NHL fan must know about Nabokov’s situation. He signed with the Red Wings for $570,000 for the rest of this season after leaving the KHL, but he had to clear waivers first. The Islanders claimed him, and he has since refused to report to the team citing it isn’t his ideal situation. Nabokov wants to play for a contender and a team that will be in the playoffs.
The Red Wings want Nabokov because veteran Chris Osgood is out for two months, and Jimmy Howard can’t play every night (and could also get hurt). In fact, the Wings even sent Joey MacDonald down to the minors to make room for Nabokov. Otherwise MacDonald would have had to clear waivers himself when he was eventually sent down. But after the Nabokov deal was nixed, Mac got called back up to the Wings.
The Islanders wanted Nabokov because rookies Nathan Lawson and Kevin Poulin aren’t going to get it done and Rick DiPietro is well…Rick DiPietro. So the Isles clearly could have used him. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out when it finally unfolds.