Goalie Recap: Smith, Niemi, Brodeur, Luongo, Crawford
(4/1/12) With the playoffs right around the corner, Mike Smith has turned it on again over the final month of March, going 6-1-3 over the last 10 games. Saturday he recorded his second shutout in as many contests, and now has 7 on the season, good for 4th in the NHL. 7 shutouts is one more than he recorded over his entire 4 year career in Tampa Bay!
For the Coyotes, Smith represents an absolute steal at only $2 million per year for 2 years. While Tampa's goaltending has gone south this season and the team will miss the playoffs, the Coyotes' previous goalie Ilya Bryzgalov is earning $10 million this year in Philadelphia (and $5.7 million/year going forward). Smith has filled the void with aplomb.
The happy story will probably end in Round 1, but the Coyotes have an outside chance at an upset if they can draw the Pacific Division champ in the opening series.
Antti Niemi is another goalie who has been rock solid for his club this year. With a crucial shutout over Dallas on Saturday, Niemi is up to 32 wins and 6 shutouts. The Sharks are one of these teams that should be better than they are. If they qualify for the postseason, Niemi could represent a sleeper if the Sharks can wake up en masse.
Other goalie notes from Saturday: Marty Brodeur recorded his 3rd shutout of the year in a win against Carolina that clinched the Devils a playoff spot. It was his 29th win, so expect NJ to give him a chance to reach 30 before the season ends. Roberto Luongo started and won for the Canucks on Saturday; he and Cory Schneider have now combined for a 6 game winning streak with 2 shutouts. Vancouver is suddenly tied with the Rangers for the most points in the NHL. Allen York (CLB) won for the third straight game. York is filling in for Steve Mason who is out with a head injury, but who is back practicing. Marty Turco got the start and the win over the Islanders. The Bruins are clearly resting Thomas, while Tuukka Rask is expected to be back in time for the postseason. Craig Anderson got his 3rd win in 4 starts since returning from his hand injury. Finally, Corey Crawford back-stopped the Hawks to a playoff clinching victory over Nashville. Chicago has turned exclusively to Crawford down the stretch; he's started every game since March 13th, going 7-1-1 in the process.