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Cullen: Goaltending check-up for all 30 teams

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Scott Cullen
2/22/2013 4:58:35 PM
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It has been fairly eventful throughout NHL creases already this season, with injuries and surprises already changing the landscape.

Here, then, is Scott Cullen's quick tour through all 30 teams, looking at who's playing and how the balance looks going forward.

ANAHEIM
30-year-old rookie Viktor Fasth has been outstanding (8-0, 1.78 GAA, .933 SV%), earning more playing time and a two-year contract extension. That contract shows a lot of confidence in Fasth with a small sample of NHL work, but as long as Fasth is playing well, he's going to take starts from incumbent starter Jonas Hiller, whose play has been uneven (3.43 GAA, .880 SV%) through his first seven appearances of the season.

BOSTON
Tim Thomas' decision to step away from the game opened the door for Tuukka Rask to claim the number one job and, aside from one six-goal outing against Buffalo, he's been very good (8-1-2, 2.05 GAA, .919 SV%). Anton Khudobin had seven NHL games uncer his belt entering the season, but has been steady enough (2.70 GAA, .905 SV%) in the backup role. Steady enough to continue, but also far enough behind for Rask to be locked in as the starter.

BUFFALO
It hasn't been an early start to the season for Ryan Miller (6-9-1, 2.87 GAA, .915 SV%) and it seems noteworthy that Miller has allowed one or zero goals once in 16 starts. The heavy shot load is causing more problems for backup Jhonas Enroth (0-2-0, 4.75 GAA, .847 SV%), but this is one of the more clearly defined starter-backup situations in the league.

CALGARY
While Miikka Kiprusoff (2-3-2, 3.24 GAA, .870 SV%) remains sidelined, 33-year-old journeyman Joey MacDonald (1-2-0, 3.09 GAA, .893 SV%) is the No. 1 option between the pipes for the Flames and, predictably, the results haven't been ideal. After starring in the AHL (13-10-1, 1.82 GAA, .929 SV%), Daniel Taylor got into the cage for a start and remains in the backup role while Leland Irving is back in the AHL after getting first crack at the job. Given the performance of the fill-ins, Kiprusoff should see the majority of the starts once he returns.

CAROLINA
Cam Ward is clearly the number one guy in Carolina, but his numbers (3.27 GAA, .896 SV%) are his worst since his rookie season. With Ward struggling the play of Dan Ellis (3-1-0, 1.74 GAA, .943 SV%), who played in the AHL during the lockout, has been a difference-maker and, if the trend continues, he could take more starts away as the season goes along.

CHICAGO
The Blackhawks haven't missed a beat, even with Corey Crawford (7-0-3, 1.65 GAA, .935 SV%) injured because Ray Emery has been tremendous (6-0-0, 2.28 GAA, .925 SV%) in his own right. Henrik Karlsson (2.23 GAA, .919 SV% in 4 AHL GP) was hanging around for a while in case Emery needed a break. Crawford's strong play has been significantly improved this year and it should help him solidify the starting job, at least once he's healthy.

COLORADO
Though he has a losing record (5-7-1) and higher goals against average (2.75), Semyon Varlamov has matched last year's .913 save percentage and is solidly in place as the top dog in the Avalanche net. Veteran Jean-Sebastien Giguere has a .919 save percentage in his three appearances, matching last year's mark.

COLUMBUS
Holding a slight edge in the crease with his new team, Sergei Bobrovsky hasn't been awe-inspiring (3-5-2, 2.79 GAA, .902 SV%). In fact, he's a lot like  Steve Mason (2-5, 3.00 GAA, .900 SV%), who hasn't played like a starter since his rookie season. If either one could string together a handful of quality starts, that could be the starter.

DALLAS
29-year-old rookie Christopher Nilstorp is winless in three starts (0-3, 3.16 GAA, .892 SV%), but has the edge over Richard Bachman (1-3-0, 3.95, .857 SV%) while the Stars wait for Kari Lehtonen (7-2-1, 2.12 GAA, .934 SV%) to get healthy.

DETROIT
The Red Wings are finding that goal prevention was easier with Nicklas Lidstrom patrolling the blueline. In any case, Jimmy Howard (6-6-2, 3.08 GAA, .896 SV%) has the worst numbers of his career while facing 29.5 shots per 60 minutes. Jonas Gustavsson has only played two games, stopping 23 of 26 shots, but if Howard is ever out long-term, Gustavsson has competition from rookie Petr Mrazek, who had two NHL starts in addition to putting up good numbers (2.26 GAA, .916 SV%) in the AHL.

EDMONTON
This is supposed to be a big year for 26-year-old Devan Dubnyk, who is the unquestioned starter in Edmonton and has put up decent numbers (5-5-3, 2.78 GAA, career-high .917 SV%), good enough to hold off any challenge from 40-yar-old Nikolai Khabibulin, who has played great (1-2-0, 1.91 GAA, .940 SV%).

FLORIDA
23-year-old top prospect Jacob Markstrom has been called up from the AHL, where he played well (2.65 GAA, .920 SV%) and now the primary reason for the Panthers not to trade for Roberto Luongo has a chance to stick if he plays well. Veterans Jose Theodore (4-6-2, 3.37 GAA, .893 SV%) and Scott Clemmensen (1-1-2, 3.86 GAA, .862 SV%) haven't played well enough to hold the job, so it makes sense of Markstrom to get his shot.

LOS ANGELES
Playoff hero and Vezina finalist Jonathan Quick has crashed back to earth with pedestrian numbers (4-5-2, 2.58 GAA, .900 SV%). If there isn't some improvement, perhaps it will provide more of an opening for Jonathan Bernier, who has played well (3-1-0, 1.80 GAA, .916 SV%) when given the chance.

MINNESOTA
35-year-old Niklas Backstrom remains steady (6-4-2, 2.28 GAA, .917 SV%) and firmly set as the Wild's No. 1. As Josh Harding (1-1, 2.92 GAA, .885 SV%) deals with MS symptoms, 22-year-old Darcy Kuemper has impressed (1-1, 2.2 GAA, .934 SV%) in two starts, but he and Matt Hackett are more factors for the future.

MONTREAL
Carey Price is a franchise player for the Canadiens and his performance has been stellar (9-3-1, 2.12 GAA, .919 SV%), which isn't very surprising, and  Peter Budaj (2-1-1, 2.45 GAA, .905 SV%) has continued to play well in the backup role, picking up where he left off last season.

NASHVILLE
The cornerstone of the Predators' lineup, Pekka Rinne has been typically great (7-3-4, 1.67 GAA, .935 SV%), playing like one of the league's elite again. Veteran backup Chris Mason was very good through two starts before getting lit up for six goals on 18 shots against Colorado on Monday.

NEW JERSEY
At 40-years-old Martin Brodeur remains good, not great, with an 8-2-3 record, 2.27 goals against average and .911 save percentage. The Devils don't miss a beat when they go for the youthful enthusiasm of backup Johan Hedberg, who has been terrific (2-1-1, 1.71 GAA, .935 SV%).

N.Y. ISLANDERS
Evgeni Nabokov might be the best the Islanders have right now, but hasn't been very good (7-6-1, 3.11 GAA, .895 SV%). There's not much competition from the waived Rick DiPietro (0-3-0, 4.09 GAA, .855 SV%), but 22-year-old Kevin Poulin (3.16 GAA, .906 SV% in 31 AHL GP) could challenge for playing time, especially if Nabokov doesn't improve.

N.Y. RANGERS
All-World goalie Henrik Lundqvist started slowly, but has been great in February (1.83 GAA, .932 SV%) and there's not much reason to be down on his 7-6-1 record, 2.28 goals against average and .918 save percentage. Martin Biron doesn't play much, but has played well (2.31 GAA, .928 SV%) in three appearances.

OTTAWA
Craig Anderson has been the league's best (8-4-2, 1.49 GAA, .952 SV%) goaltender to this point in the season, but suffered an ankle injury Thursday, which means an opportunity for backup Ben Bishop (2-2-0, 2.61 GAA, .919 SV%) to get some run. The Senators embarrassment of riches in net extends to the AHL, where Robin Lehner (2.12 GAA, .938 SV% in 31 AHL GP) is surely ready for NHL duty, yet can't get a shot. Maybe if Anderson is out for a longer period.

PHILADELPHIA
Ilya Bryzgalov got off to a good start, but has been rocked for at least four goals in three of his last four starts, dropping his numbers (8-8-1, 2.76 GAA, .900 SV%) below last season's. Bryz brings unpredictability but, given his backups, he should still get the vast majority of starts. Brian Boucher (0-1-0, 2.48 GAA, .898 SV%) and Michael Leighton (0-1-0, 5.08 GAA, .808 SV%) aren't threats for playing time.

PHOENIX
Mike Smith had a couple rough starts early, but has been getting better (6-4-1, 2.55 GAA, .907 SV%) as he tries to build on last year's breakout campaign. Jason LaBarbera (1-2-0, 2.83 GAA, .898 SV%) has been a serviceable backup, but lost a couple of starts to minor leaguer Chad Johnson (1-0-1, 0.98 GAA, .952 SV%) when Smith was hurt.

PITTSBURGH
After struggling in last year's playoffs (4.63 GAA, .834 SV%), Marc-Andre Fleury faced more of a challenge for his job when the Penguins acquired Tomas Vokoun, but Fleury has played at a level similar to the past couple of seasons (8-3-0, 2.34 GAA, .914 SV%). For his part, Vokoun had been okay, but after giving up six against Philadelphia Wednesday, his overall stats (3-3-0, 2.87 GAA, .899 SV%) don't look so great.

SAN JOSE
Even as the San Jose Sharks stumble after their unbeaten-in-seven start, Antti Niemi continues to provide stability, with a 7-2-3 record, 1.86 goals against average and .933 save percentage. When he's playing like that, Niemi is safely in the No. 1 slot for the Sharks. Thomas Greiss (1-2-0, 2.68 GAA, .913 SV%) has been among the better backups in recent seasons.

ST. LOUIS
Injured early in the year, Jaroslav Halak (3-0-1, 1.84 GAA, .902 SV%) is healthy now and will be counted on to handle the bulk of the workload for the Blues, since Brian Elliott has been a disaster (3-5-1, 3.57 GAA, .849 SV%) following up his career year. Fortunately, prospect Jake Allen (3-1-0, 2.62 GAA, .895 SV%) was serviceable as a replacement when Halak was hurt.

TAMPA BAY
The Lightning handed their goaltender reins over to Anders Lindback, after two seasons with the Nashville Predators. The early returns this year have been mixed, with a 7-4-1 record, 3.12 GAA and .895 SV%. Veteran backup Mathieu Garon (1-3-0, 3.19 GAA, .911 SV%) fits well in that role, but isn't likely to challenge Lindback unless the wheels really come off the wagon.

TORONTO
After playing with the Marlies in the AHL during the lockout, Ben Scrivens got the nod as the Maple Leafs' opening night starter and had a couple decent starts before getting lit up and losing control of the crease to James Reimer. Reimer's injury has given Scrivens another chance and he's performed very well (5-4-0, 2.10 GAA, .931 SV%). Reimer, to his credit, was excellent (6-3-0, 2.31 GAA, .929 SV%) before getting hurt and the play of this young tandem has lessened the urgency for Toronto to acquire a more established puckstopper.

VANCOUVER
This was supposed to be a big year for Cory Schneider, as he was expected to run with the starting job. While Schneider hasn't played poorly (5-3-1, 2.68 GAA, .912 SV%), he has played better in previous seasons and Roberto Luongo (4-0-3, 1.63 GAA, .934 SV%) has forced his way into more action than might have been initially anticipated.

WASHINGTON
Last year's playoff darling for the Capitals, Braden Holtby has found the going tougher (4-6-0, 3.62 GAA, .891 SV%) this year, but is getting more starts than Michal Neuvirth (1-4-1, 3.05 GAA, .889 SV%). If either one of them was playing at a league-average level, the Capitals would be in much better position.

WINNIPEG
The wait continues for 25-year-old Ondrej Pavelec to take the next step in his development and he has improved after a slow start, but the overall (5-8-1, 2.97 GAA, .896 SV%) is still not up to starter snuff. Al Montoya (2-0-0, 2.74 GAA, .889 SV%) hasn't done much to think that he will eat into Pavelec's playing time.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Craig Anderson (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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