James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Celebrating great goalie runs

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

To paraphrase what Matthew Broderick/Ferris Bueller might say in that surprisingly over-hated car commercial,* an NHL season moves by awfully fast. If you don't take a step back to admire a great run or two, you might miss them.


Going into Tuesday's Vancouver Canucks-Nashville Predators game, the greatest amount of attention revolved around Alain Vigneault at least pondering the idea of splitting up the Sedin twins. Naturally, that idea was exposed as ludicrous in an entertaining fashion on Tuesday as the Sedins spurred a two-point night for Byron Bitz. (Let me give credit where it's due, though; Bitz made an outstanding pass for his assist.)


As it turns out, Vigneault's idea wasn't the only ridiculous thing that the Sedins spotlighted last night, though.



The ginger replicas helped Vancouver hand the Nashville Predators a 4-3 shootout loss, putting Pekka Rinne's criminally under-mentioned winning streak to an end. Before Feb. 7's game, Rinne was on an 11-game winning streak.


You cannot describe Rinne's great recent reign of dominance by that run alone, though. How about we look at his recent play from a few other angles, then?


  • Rinne is a ridiculous 14-1-1 in his last 17 games.
  • Sorry to go late-night-infomerical on you, but it gets even better. When you extend the study out to Rinne's last 24 appearances, he's an absurd 20-2-1. (Note: Rinne had a single non-decision in those spans.)
  • The Nashville netminder has only been beaten once in regulation since 2012 rolled around.
  • If you want to stretch the boundaries of reason, Rinne's run does have a "flaw." He only has one shutout so far in his sexy streak.


It's not as if Rinne is making up for a season's worth of statistical neglect, either. He's 30-11-5 with a .925 save percentage and 2.38 GAA this season. His overall shutout numbers are a more appetizing four, too.


Call me stubborn if you'd like, but I still wonder if it's smart to hand $5 million per year to any goalie, let alone the haul Rinne will start shoveling in next season. Still, if he can play anywhere near this level more often than not, he could follow Henrik Lundqvist and a handful of other guys around in the "Might actually be worth it" club.



Speaking of goalies on hellacious runs that might be getting less press because he plays on a lower-profile team, Evgeni Nabokov put together an absolute masterpiece for the New York Islanders last night.


It's impressive enough that Nabokov earned a shutout against the Philadelphia Flyers (struggling or not), but the Russian netminder pulled off a pretty special goose egg on Tuesday. He stopped all 45 shots in three periods plus overtime and didn't even allow a shootout goal.


Ilya Bryzgalov only needed 18 saves for his quasi-shutout, which was probably sullied in many eyes after he couldn't win the skills competition – or maybe just in comparison to what Nabokov pulled off. Chew on this: Nabokov faced almost as many shots from Scott Hartnell-Claude Giroux-Jaromir Jagr line (16) as Breezy faced all night. Yup, that's an amazing night by Nabokov.


My guess is that Tuesday's performance will make it virtually impossible for Nabokov to slip under the radar just because he's playing in Long Island anymore. He's obviously had his name bandied about in trade rumor circles – his age and contract status certainly justify the talk – but I wonder if people realize how strong he's really been lately.



Nabokov is 6-1-0 in his last seven starts, which is especially sterling considering the shaky group in front of him. His individual numbers are even more impressive, though, as he's only allowed eight goals on 220 shots in that span. That amounts to a .964 save percentage.


Obviously those stats are unsustainable, but if Garth Snow trades Nabokov to a contender, he could be one of the great steals in fantasy in the stretch run. It's hard to imagine Nabokov's trade value getting any higher than it is right now, either.



Tomas Vokoun shut out his former team the Florida Panthers (again) while Alex Ovechkin scored twice. Perhaps they'll heat up and run away with the division, although we've been waiting for them to wake up full-time for a while now … The Islanders signed Frans Nielsen to a four-year deal worth a reasonable $11 million. He probably won't be of much use in standard fantasy leagues, but it's great news for future Isles netminders as he's a very nice two-way forward … Martin Brodeur nabbed a controversial shutout against the New York Rangers last night. One can debate the validity of the call to reverse what would have been a game-tying goal in the last seconds, but there's no denying that Brodeur looked very good in a 30-save shutout. I'm shocked to say this but patient Brodeur owners might just reap some serious rewards … Radim Vrbata and Mike Smith are heating up for the Phoenix Coyotes … David Jones responded to trade rumors with a two-goal, one-assist performance on Feb. 7 … Phil Kessel hit the 30-goal mark, placing him five behind goals leader (and birthday boy) Steve StamkosDavid Perron (two goals) and the St. Louis Blues keep the Ottawa Senators bleeding away. Craig Anderson's night was particularly horrific ... Rumor has it that one trade suitor backed off Jeff Carter because he was/is so devastated by the Flyers trade. It's easy to look at these moves from a pure numbers standpoint, but the human factor is huge. (Still, Carter should probably suck it up, eh?)




Claude Julien said he's not going to provide Nathan Horton updates for a while. Tragic, I know … Danny Briere returned from his six-game concussion hiatus on Tuesday … Lindy Ruff didn't attend Sabres practice with broken ribs after all … The word is that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins could miss 7-10 days with his re-injured shoulder … Evander Kane returned to action for the Winnipeg Jets, who edged Toronto 2-1 last night … I was asked about Nicklas Backstrom's status on Monday. The best answer I could find is that he hasn't been skating for quite some time. (Click here for the full injury list.)


* - Maybe I was rolling around the wrong hipster neighborhood on that subject, because boy did I read a lot of griping about Broderick dusting off the old Bueller character in the name of selling Hondas. Look, I'd say I'm in at least the top 80 percentile when it comes to Bueller-lovers in my age group, but acting like the 1980's comedy is some kind of sacred cow is just plain silly.


(Note: I haven't done extensive research into the matter, so if this commercial was made against John Hughes' final wishes, then I'll side with the hipsters on this one after all.)

James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
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