Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Rookie Goalies In The Playoffs

One of the most covered stories in the hockey media has been that of the great group of rookies. This group is partly explained because it is actually two classes of rookies combined (both the 2004/05 rookies, who missed out on their rookie season due to the lockout, and the 2005/06 rookies). In fact, this story may have been overblown by the media.

The rookie story is continuing into the playoffs. Many of the playoff teams are depending upon rookie goalies for their goaltending this season. The Buffalo Sabres defeated the Philadelphia Flyers with rookie Ryan Miller in goal. The Ottawa Senators defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning with rooke goalie Ray Emery in net. The New York Rangers failed in the first round, but they depended upon rookie goalie Henrik Lundqvist. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated Montreal in part because of the strong goaltending of rookie Cam Ward, when he came in to replace Martin Gerber. Anaheim has lived to seven games with Calgary in part because of the strong goaltending of rookie Ilya Bryzgalov. Philadelphia lost to Buffalo, but they did so using rookie goaltender Antero Niittymaki in two of the games. Colorado remains active in the playoffs and has rookie Peter Budaj as their backup. He may become relied upon in the playoff games to come. This is a lot of NHL teams relying on rookie goaltenders in the playoffs.

That is not to mention non-playoff teams like the Atlanta Thrashers who would have relied upon rookie goalie Kari Lehtonen. Pittsburgh would have depended upon rookie goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Boston may have used rookie goalie Hannu Toivonen.

There is a strong class of rookie goalies in the NHL and many are playing important roles in the playoffs.

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