Crease Comebacks

NHL goalies looking to bounce back this season

NHL Goalies Looking to Bounce Back

Top to Bottom, Bottom to Top: In going from one of the NHL’s better teams, the Pittsburgh Penguins, down to one of its worst, the Ottawa Senators, Matt Murray has seen a substantial drop in his performance. Having had a decent showing during the 2018-19 season, putting up a .919 Save Percentage (Sv%) and a Goals Against Average (GAA) of 2.69 in 50 Games, Murray has since slipped to a .893 Sv% and 3.38 GAA in 27 Games during the 2020-21 season. If the Senators are going to have any chance of turning things around, Murray’s performance will have to turn around as well.

After being traded to the Colorado Avalanche from the Arizona Coyotes this offseason, Darcy Kuemper faces an awesome opportunity to get back to his productive ways. It’s surely something he’s looking for as he dropped from a .925 Sv% and 2.33 GAA in 55 Games in 2018-19 down to a .907 Sv% and 2.56 GAA in 27 Games in 2020-21. With the departure of Philipp Grubauer to the Seattle Kraken, the Avalanche are just as in need of a return to normalcy.

On the Bubble: When you’re a team that’s on the bubble to make the playoffs, oftentimes, it’s solid goaltending that’ll get you over the hump. While he later put up stellar numbers during the playoffs, the Canadiens barely snuck in due to Carey Price’s poor showing during the regular season. Compared to a respectable .918 Sv% and 2.49 GAA in 66 Games during 2018-19, Price only put up a .901 Sv% and 2.64 GAA in 25 Games this past year. With numerous Eastern Conference teams making moves this offseason, the Montreal Canadiens’ chances of returning to the playoffs will heavily depend on Price’s performance.

As a goalie who grew up idolizing Price, Carter Hart faces a similar situation. After putting up a .917 Sv% and 2.83 GAA in 31 Games during his 2018-19 rookie season, Hart tanked to a .877 Sv% and 3.67 GAA in 27 Games this past year. Thankfully, Hart will benefit from his Philadelphia Flyers making big moves to get back to the postseason, but he’ll surely face added pressure to get back on track.

New team, you? One of the most notable drops in performance has been in Braden Holtby. With a .911 Sv% and 2.82 GAA in 59 Games in 2018-19, Holtby sunk to a .889 Sv% and 3.67 GAA in 21 Games in 2020-21. Was it him, or can it be blamed on everyone underperforming with the Vancouver Canucks last year? While they can likely count on Anton Khudobin in net, the Dallas Stars are surely hoping to get some quality starts out of Holtby to get back to the playoffs.

And finally, no article on goalies bouncing back could ever leave out former Toronto Maple Leafs’ netminder, Frederik Andersen. While in years past I disagreed with the harsh scrutiny he faced, I feel his performance last year was certainly sub-par. Putting up a .917 Sv% and 2.77 GAA in 60 Games during 2018-19, Andersen slipped to a .895 Sv% and a 2.96 GAA in 24 Games in 2020-21. Will less eyes on the Carolina Hurricanes help Andersen get back to his steady presence? We’ll soon find out.

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