Whether or not Mathieu Garon is winning the starting job in Columbus right now, or simply enhancing his trade value is a debate for another day. Today, he’s the NHL’s second star of the week after stopping 75 of 78 shots in three games. Garon registered back-to-back shutouts on his way to earning the weekly honour. Less surprisingly, St. Louis Blues’ goaltender Jaroslav Halak was named the week’s third star backstopping St. Louis to the league’s best record with two dominant performances this past week. Vancouver’s Raffi Torres (pfft, not a goalie) was the week’s first star.
We’ll reiterate that it’s still early, but goaltending in the NHL has been off the charts early this season. The league currently boasts seven goaltenders with a goals against average of 1.80 or lower, and both Tim Thomas and Halak have each notched three shutouts in 8 and 10 games, respectively. Thomas has yet to register a loss, although he was pulled from a game last week before Tuukka Rask became the victim of a blown lead and the official bearer of the defeat. Halak has just one loss in regulation, with one more in overtime.
Although Halak had some doubters entering the season, it looks as though his unforgettable playoff performance from last spring was much more indicative of his ability than Jacques Martin’s collapsing system gave him credit for. Halak appears to be the real thing after splitting time in Montreal with Carey Price for the past couple of seasons. Garon’s play is much more of a surprise, and less likely to be sustained across the season. Nonetheless impressive, though.
A fresh contract is likely to buy Steve Mason several opportunities to keep the number one role in Columbus, whether or not he’s capable of handling the duties is another debate. Garon has twice been looked to as the number one guy, once in L.A. where he did a respectable job in 2005-06 and a late season emergence with the Oilers in 2007-08. While performing great in flashes, Garon has never effectively handled the number one role – but his play from the past week may earn the 32-year old another shot at getting a considerable amount of starts.
While the odds of either goalie maintaining the gaudy numbers they both possess right now are slim, it’s made for some highly entertaining hockey. You can bank on Jaroslav Halak receiving the bulk of action between the pipes in St. Louis, but Garon may have to rely on Steve Mason‘s struggles in order to keep getting trotted out to start. Whatever the case, we applaud both goalies on a pair of incredible performances thus far.