Based on what's happened so far this season, who do you think the first goalie to lose his starting job will be?
Brian Rosenbaum: My money's on Brian Elliott. In fact, some would say he has already lost his starting gig. With an 0-3 record, 4.72 GAA and .839 SP Elliott has been nothing short of awful. This begs the question--was Elliott's success in St. Louis because of Elliott himself or because of Ken Hitchcock's goalie-friendly system. All I know is that Chad Johnson has been the much better netminder in Calgary thus far posting a 1.89 GAA and a .923 SP whille winning the Flames' only game. Enough said.
Ryan Dadoun: I have to side with you when it comes to Elliott. I do think that at least some of his success in St. Louis came from the favorable circumatances there, so some regression in Calgary was inevitable, though not to this extent. He shouldn't be completely written off yet, but he's no longer Calgary's clear starter.
Michael Finewax: I think that Elliott will bounce back and be a significant piece for the Flames this season. They didn't trade for him in the off-season just to give him a three game trial. The situation that bears watching is in Detroit where it appears that Jimmy Howard is ready to reclaim the net after losing it to Petr Mrazek last season. Mrazek has been okay this season with a 2-2 record to go with a .914 save percentage and a 3.03 GAA but Howard has been sensational. He has won both his starts and has given up only one goal in 63 shots. The Red Wings are a bubble team this season as far as the playoffs are concerned and should ride the hotness of Howard at this time.
Corey Abbott: I didn't have much faith in Elliott going into the year, so Johnson stealing starts isn't a surprising situation to me. I'm not ready to anoint Johnson as the starter yet, but I agree with Ryan that Elliott's hold on the number one job is tenuous at best until he proves he can handle he role. I'm looking at Vancouver as a potential spot for a goalie change. Jacob Markstrom has been pegged as a potential top option before, but he finally appears to be ready to claim that mantle. Ryan Miller was out for one game due to injury, but he has taken a backseat to Markstrom at the beginning of the year and the 26-year-old netminder has taken advantage of his playing time with a 3-0-1 record. Markstrom also has a 1.94 GAA and a .923 save percentage.
Brian Rosenbaum: I agree that both Vancouver and Detroit are cities where there could be fluxuations in the goalie rotation. Although I know the question was which starter would lose his job, I'm going to comment on a job-share situation where one of the participants could be pulling away from the other. Kari Lehtonen has by far been the better of the two Dallas goalies to date. With a 2.26 GAA and .924 SP he has been miles ahead of Antti Niemi and his 4.83 GAA and .873 SP. Stars' coach Lindy Ruff has rewarded Lehtonen with four of Dallas' six starts to date. Lehtonen could re-establish himself as Dallas' primary netminder if this continues.
Ryan Dadoun: I'm hesitant to say anything nice about either of the Stars goaltenders because I have very low expectations about that situation. Certainly though if Lehtonen continues to play anything like he has recently then I could see him ending up with 50-60 starts. At the risk of going off on a tangent, I'm very interested to see how Pittsburgh's situation plays out. I talked about Matt Murray last week too, but he's very close to being ready now and the Penguins recently showed confidence in him by giving him an extension. So how will the Penguins handle that situation? Who was even the Penguins' starter the begin with? Their well established veteran or the youngster who just led them to a championship? Or does no one have a true edge in that situation? I think how Murray plays over the next few weeks will be huge because if he struggles then that's cover to lean on Fleury, but if he excels then they could split it roughly 50-50.
Michael Finewax: While the Vancouver and Dallas goaltending situations are up in the air, nothing is worse than in Los Angeles where Jonathan Quick is out for three months barring any setbacks, and now Jeff Zatkoff is out of action, leaving the goaltending to Peter Budaj and Jack Campbell. Look for the Kings to make a deal. perhaps for Ondrej Pavelec who is floundering in the Jets farm system, or perhaps they do a bigger trade but Quick will be back soon enough and another big goalie could screw up their salary cap. Pittsburgh is also interesting but Matt Murray needs to return to action.
Corey Abbott: The situation is Tampa Bay is worth keeping an eye on too. Ben Bishop hasn't looked great in his first three starts, while Andrei Vasilevskiy has performed very well in two outings. That will give him additional playing time early in the year. If Vasilevskiy shows he can handle the everyday duties as a starter than perhaps that would expedite a trade involving Bishop, who is eligible for unrestricted free agency in the summer.