Day six of goalie week sees us profile the final division, the Northeast, containing our own Ottawa Senators. Where does the Sens tandem rank among their divisional rivals? Let’s meet the teams and then give them a ranking.
Boston Bruins (Tuukka Rask, Anton Khudobin)
With Tim Thomas “taking a year off” (and partially losing his mind) the torch is passed back to Rask. Three seasons ago it looked like that was already happening but a Thomas resurgence delayed the transfer. Rask showed that he is a capable goalie and has been patient in waiting for his opportunity. Khudobin is inexperienced and has bounced around the pros, but won his only NHL game last season.
Buffalo Sabres ( Ryan Miller, Jonas Enroth)
Miller had a very inconsistent season, leading to some speculation that he was going to lose the starting job, and even possibly be dealt. Concussion problems following a devastating collision with Milan Lucic in November affected him, but by the end of the season he was right on par with his career numbers. Enroth has starter talent, so he will push Miller all the time for playing time until he either overtakes him or one of them is dealt.
Montreal Canadiens (Carey Price, Peter Budaj)
Price could be a Vezina winner in the next three years, but needs a better defence in front of him. Still, he has some growing to do on and off the ice and that is tough to do in the Montreal pressure cooker. Peter Budaj is a decent backup, but if something were to happen to Price injury-wise they Habs will likely struggle in front of Budaj.
Ottawa Senators (Craig Anderson, Ben Bishop)
As good as Anderson was at times, he was also bad at times. If the Senators are going to make the playoffs, they need more consistent performances from Anderson. Bishop is intriguing as the backup, but should be pushed for a spot by Robin Lehner at training camp. Contract situations give the edge to Bishop in that battle, so Lehner would have to vastly outplay him in the exhibition season. Any way you slice it, Ottawa’s goaltending has never been this deep before. Anderson will probably never be in the elite tier of goaltenders, but with a little more consistency he could be act the top of the second level
Toronto Maple Leafs (James Reimer, Ben Scrivens)
With Scrivens still a restricted free agent, Reimer is the only goalie currently under contract with NHL experience. While many people expect Robert Luongo to be in the Leaf’s net before the season begins, he hasn’t joined the team as of yet, so Reimer is tops. Despite what Leafs fans and Toronto media say to pump Reimer’s tires, he isn’t even close to the upper echelon of the NHL goalies, in fact he might be below average among the starters. Scrivens, if indeed Reimer is #1, is another creation of the Hogtown Media Hype Machine, and not quite as good as Southern Ontario would have you believe.
So now that the players have been identified, haw do they rank? Here is my ranking:
5. Toronto Maple Leafs – Depth and talent both questionable.
4. Boston Bruins – Rask needs to reassert himself and his safety net is gone, at least for a year.
3. Ottawa Senators – If Anderson was more consistent the duo would be higher.
2. Montreal Canadiens – Price might be the best goalie in the division, but the drop off in talent to his backup keeps them in second ranking.
1. Buffalo Sabres - Miller lost some consistency, but Enroth makes this duo dynamic.
So there it is, the ranking in order for the final division. Tomorrow I will wrap up goalie week with my overall ranking of all the goalie tandems in the league from 1 – 30.