The Knight Rises
Which NHL goaltenders are off to hot starts?
Passing of the torch in Florida?
What’s Happening: The Florida Panthers are blessed with an extremely talented team full of offensive superstars, defensive stalwarts and a solid duo in net. Current starter Sergei Bobrovsky has a large contract attached to his name and in past years, has not lived up to this contract. Surprisingly, this year, he’s also off to a hot start in six starts, where he’s posted a .944 save percentage to go along with a perfect 6-0-0 record.
Right behind him is netminder of the future, Spencer Knight. Knight is also off to a fast start as well posting a .929 save percentage to pair with his also perfect 2-0-0 record. It’s a good problem for Florida to have as Knight is seen by many as ready to take over the starter’s crease in Florida. Bobrovsky’s play has shown that he isn’t willing to give up the starter’s job just yet, so time will only tell if this year is the year for Knight to be passed the torch.
Best Start: While the sample size may be small, there are a few goalies that are off to a really good start. Elvis Merzlikins has gotten off to the hottest start for the Columbus Blue Jackets. After changing his number to #90 to honor former Blue Jackets and his former best friend, Matiss Kivlenieks, Merzlikins has done his former best friend proud by boasting a 4-1-0 record to go along with a .939 save percentage and 1.98 goals against average. While these numbers are likely to regress, Merzlikins has proven that he is capable of carrying the workload in Columbus over former starters like Joonas Korpisalo in years past. The question is: how long can Merzlikins maintain this high level of play and can he do it over an entire season?
Biggest Surprise: Not many hockey pundits expect much out of a 40-year old hockey player, let alone a netminder. But the same cannot be said for 40-year-old Craig Anderson who is arguably having one of, if not, the best starts of his career.
The veteran netminder has posted a .939 save percentage and 1.98 GAA for the Buffalo Sabres, who are also creating headlines for their upbeat and impactful play early on in the season. The biggest surprise is Anderson’s play, which has definitely kept the Sabres in games and won many for them already this season. While these numbers are also expected to regress, it’s great to see this journeyman netminder have some success early on in the season and make an impact on this relatively young Sabres team.
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