Monday, July 21, 2008

Coyotes Goalies Situation: From Non-Existence to Rock-Solid

The Phoenix Coyotes goaltending situation has done a 180 in the past year. Flashback to the beginning of last season, remember the “Three Headed Monster” the Coyotes had in goal?

The three heads consisted of Alex Auld, David Aebischer, and Mikael Tellqvist, which was quite a scary monster, but not in a good way.

The Coyotes had no clue which goalie would take the ball and run with and in the process become the franchises number one goalie. As it turned out, neither of these three goalies or David Leneveu, another goalie waiting in the wings, would take that ball nor become that number one goalie that the Coyotes so desperately needed.

Mikael Tellqvist would start the season in goal for Phoenix and would get the win in the season opener against the St. Louis Blues. The Coyotes then passed the ball to Aebischer, who played in only one game, a loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0.

Finally the Coyotes gave Auld a chance to make his mark and it looked like he was going to take that ball and run with it for a long time. Auld would manage to keep a .500 record with a shutout in his first six games after that it would be all-downhill, as he would lose his next three games in poor fashion.

It was 15 games into the season and the Coyotes goalie situation was the same if not worse than it was to begin the season. The Coyotes got rid of Aebischer, loaning him HC Lugano of the Swiss league for the remainder of the season.

Then out of nowhere a gift fell right out of the sky right onto the Coyotes’ lap. The Coyotes opened it up to find a number one goalie by the name of Ilya Bryzgalov who was put on waivers by the Anaheim Ducks because they already had two great goalies in J.S Giguere and Jonas Hiller.

For the first time since Nikolai Khabibulin and Sean Burke, the Coyotes had a true No. 1 goalie capable of taking them to the playoffs and beyond. The Coyotes season went from being in the race for Steven Stamkos to being in a race for a playoff spot, all because of Bryzgalov’s spectacular play in net and a lot of hard work from the players in front of him.

The Coyotes finished with 38-37-7 record good for 83 points, eight points shy of a playoff spot, a 16 point increase from the 2006-07 season. None of it would have been possible without the gift from the Ducks.

Back to the present, heading into the 2008-09 season the Coyotes not only have a No. 1 goalie for the foreseeable future, but also have but three great options in backup goaltenders. First you have Mikael Tellqvist, the only goalie left of “Three Headed Monster,” who was the backup for Bryzgalov last season and did a very solid job in doing it.

Next you have Al Montoya who the Coyotes acquired from the New York Rangers at last year’s trade deadline. He played all of last season in the AHL with both Hartford and San Antonio. Montoya was once again stellar posting a 24-14-3 record with 2.54 GAA and .912 save percentage.

Finally you have an up-and-comer Josh Tordjman. The 23-year-old posted similar stats to Montoya sporting a 22-14-4 record with 2.65 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. All three of theses goalies will get a chance to battle it out for the backup job come training camp in September.

As you can see there has been a significant change between the pipes for the Coyotes. They not only have a great goaltending tandem for the present, but one that can continue to shine for many years to come.

1 comment:

MJ Kasprzak said...

Getting Ilya was the steal of the regular season, and since you need good goaltending, that depth and talent will keep the Yotes competitive even in this difficult division...just not good enough to make the playoffs this year.