As Adam Kimelman of NHL.com pointed out today, tomorrow night the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals are going to go head-to-head for the first time this season.

Reminds me of the Nike commercial janitor here

That means that two recently acquired big name goaltenders – Ilya Bryzgalov and Tomas Vokoun – are going to do battle for the first time since joining their new teams. Call me crazy, but isn’t this the first time in many, many years that these two teams have played and the story has been great goaltending?

On January 19th of this year, I wrote an article for Hockey Primetime.com that said, in a nutshell, the Flyers and Capitals are wasting great rosters by having less-than-quality goaltending. You know who else made that point? Pretty much everyone. Well, the two GMs finally listented. (I should probably mention that in Varlamov’s defense, he’s off to a fantastic start this season.)

After five games, the Capitals are 5-0-0, which is sort of good. The Flyers are way behind them at 4-0-1, which brings the two teams to a combined loss-total of zero.

The fish was thiiiis big.

Tomas Vokoun came out of the gate a little shaky in his first performance, but was bailed out by his high octane offense. (The second half of that sentence wasn’t written very often prior to this year.)

Since then, he’s got his numbers back to brilliant: 4 games, 4 wins, 1.94 GAA, .935 save percentage, with 1 shutout. Bryzgalov is only a step behind him at 3-0-1 with a 1.99 GAA and .927 save percentage with 1 shutout.

It’s a bit of an “I told you so” moment for a lot of fans and media, but it also puts things in perspective: these two teams suddenly look like the Stanley Cup frontrunners. They have in the past, but this year we get to take them seriously.

They’ll be doing battle tomorrow night on TVs around Canada and the US (it’s on the NHL Network in the US, which is sweet for me. And hey, I’m pretty sure just about every game is on in Canada, so that’s fun). We may even get to see the debut of highly touted rookie Brayden Shenn for the Flyers, which is worth something too.

All I know is, it should be a doozy of a game. Great offenses firing at rock solid goaltending. Be sure to tune in with me so we can argue about things on Twitter.

Comments (6)

  1. People who have actually played hockey understand the importance of a solid goalie. It’s the stat heads that think you can just plug anyone back there and find success. I’m glad to see there’s someone writing for the Score who actually understands the game, I might actually read an article or two now.

  2. In January, you said those two teams were wasting great rosters with less-than-quality goaltending?

    Were you saying the same thing when those two teams finished 1st and 2nd in the Eastern Conference in April?

  3. Geoff – would you still have used that argument whilst watching the two teams teeing off on the 1st whilst Tampa Bay and Boston were still playing in the spring?

  4. Duff – Yes, yes I would have. Four game samples where the teams play like garbage are not proof that the goalies who led their teams to the best two records over 82 games have been holding them back all along.

  5. It is when it’s in the playoffs. That’s how goaltending works, it’s all about the pressure and who performs under it.

  6. noskillgill:

    If you really believe that, then clearly, Ilya Bryzgalov isn’t your answer since he hasn’t performed under pressure the last two years and Michael Leighton is better. But I’m betting that doesn’t fit your narrative.

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