Many NHL coaches will go with their back-up in goal
January 02, 2018 3:06 PM
by Nick Pellegrino
Changes occurred in NHL handicapping at this time last season when NHL and NHLPA officials agreed to insert a week-long break into the league’s master schedule.
So coaches took the break idea one step further this season, many giving their No. 1 goalie an extra day off either just before or after Christmas with the backup tending to duties in the net.
One example came in New York, when the Rangers announced before the break that reserve goalie Ondrej Pavelec would get the start against Washington on Dec. 27. I even gave out the Capitals in my GamingToday VIP selection service.
However, around noon on game day, the Capitals announced they, too, would rest Braden Holtby in lieu of Philipp Grubauer. Thus, I quickly got off the Caps and slid my wager to the Under. To my luck, both goalies posted 65-minute shutouts, with NYR finally winning in a shootout.
Then last Friday, Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville elected to place 32-year-old Jeff Glass in the net to rest Corey Crawford.
It was a Merry Christmas for Glass. The Calgary native posted 42 saves in his long-awaited debut, becoming the second-oldest goalie since 1967 to earn a win in his NHL debut by nipping personal childhood rival Edmonton when Patrick Kane undressed an Oilers defenseman for the game-winning goal in overtime.
Why it took Glass, the 2005 Del Wilson Trophy recipient as the top Western Hockey League goalie, a decade to reach the NHL is not clear, although being stuck in the Ottawa Senators system could be an explanation.
What makes this important is the upcoming schedule break.
Many coaches will go with their back-up in goal, so which ones can you feel safe wagering on? Along with NYR’s Pavelec (3-0-1 in Last 4), Here are a few I like:
• Darcy Kuemper, Los Angeles: Of course, when the team in front of you ranks first in penalty-killing and GAA, this could be a case where anyone could do well. However, his 2.00 GAA and .934 save percentage still rank among the best.
• Cam Ward, Carolina: Ward is not considered the back-up. Although I thought he should’ve retired two seasons ago, Ward owns the best current record (10-2-1); the other Canes are 8-11-6 in net.
• Malcolm Subban, Vegas: When Marc-Andre Fleury suffered a concussion just four days into the season, it was Subban who rescued the Knights in goal. Following Ward, Subban has the next-best record in goal at 9-2-0.
• Kari Lehtonen, Dallas: I might have been wrong on Lehtonen, who received little offensive support, yet has an okay 10-5-5 mark.
• Carter Hutton, St. Louis: Despite the Blues’ recent slump to third place, Hutton (6-3-0,.946) is not the cause.
They rate low in the standings, yet Buffalo and Detroit are worth a play on the puck line (+1.5 goals) at near-even money. Why? They stink in overtime.
The Sabres have allowed seven OT goals among their 8 OTL, while scoring only twice.
The Red Wings are worse (pct.-wise), yielding six OT goals without scoring any. Same goes for Winnipeg (0-5).
The best in OT: Vegas and Pittsburgh (6), then L.A., Columbus and Chicago (5).