After the special divisions based on location last season, the NHL has reset the divisions to what they used to be. The Carolina Hurricanes and the Columbus Blue Jackets have replaced the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres in the Metropolitan division. The swap is one incredible team and one bad team for a good team and a bad team. So overall, the Metro division remains pretty even this year. Each has its strength among the eight teams, whether it’s offense, defense, or goaltending. The most successful teams of the past few years have been led by a good goalie or a group of good goalies. Here are the goalies for the Metro division and how they rank up against their division goalies.
The Flyers have been a playoff team in past years, but last year was a mess. The troubles started at goaltending. Carter Hart put up a -22.73 GSAA and a -24.34 GSAx, and Brian Elliott put up a -13.38 GSAA and a -20.25 GSAx. Hart, twenty-three years old, was viewed as the team’s goalie for years to come before last season hit. This season will be a rebound to show if he still has it in him or if it’s time for Philly to ship him out. Elliott left in free agency, and Martin Jones from the San Jose Sharks took his spot. Jones put up a -11.57 GSAA and a -12.61 GSAx, so this year will be an important one for him to bounce back as well. This summer, the Flyers made many moves in free agency, so if the goaltending steps up, they might be a playoff team this season.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Everything about this team screams trouble. Their goalies have been solid in the past, but as a tandem, have been inconsistent. Last year, Joonas Korpisalo put up a -12.81 GSAA and a -18.06 GSAx, and Elvis Merzlikins put up a 7.99 GSAA and a -1.66 GSAx. The team is in a rebuild mode, so having adequate goalies doesn’t bother the team.
The Carolina Hurricanes disappointed in the playoffs last season. Now they are back in the Metro division with a very talented squad. However, the team downgraded their goalie. Last year, Alex Nedeljkovic and Petr Mrazek were an exceptional tandem. That didn’t stop them both from being moved on from in Carolina. Frederik Andersen, who put up a -9.21 GSAA and a -11.14 GSAx, and Antti Raanta, who put up a -1.66 GSAA and a -1.92 GSAx, replaced the former goalies. Andersen will look to bounce back to his former self and carry Carolina deep in the playoffs.
The past three seasons haven’t been great in New Jersey. The Devils house one of the younger rosters in the NHL. Mackenzie Blackwood, who put up a -7.41 GSAA and a -12.62 GSAx, leads the goaltending tandem. In free agency, they brought in Jonathan Bernier, who put up a 5.66 GSAA and a 4.73 GSAx, from the Detroit Red Wings. Bernier is going from one low ranked to another but will have a chance to prove himself in his new division.
The Capitals lost their rookie goaltender in the Seattle Expansion Draft but couldn’t last without him, as they traded a second-round pick for him. Vitek Vanecek, who put up a -0.8 GSAA and a -7.58 GSAx, will look to improve in his sophomore season. Ilya Samsonov, who put up a -2.91 GSAA and a -6.17 GSAx, will look to bounce back after a shaky season. The Capitals were Stanley Cup champions a few seasons ago and still have critical pieces from that squad. These goalies will have a chance to look good behind a talented Capitals team.
The regular season was great for the Penguins, who went on to be the one seed in the Metro. Tristan Jarry, who put up a 0.88 GSAA and a -8.26 GSAx, and Casey DeSmith, who put up a 2.65 GSAA and a 4.32 GSAx, were a solid tandem. They each had some excellent games and some bad ones. Once the playoffs hit, Tristan Jarry played awful against the New York Islanders, letting up some easy goals and eliminating his team. This season will be his opportunity to show that his playoff performance was a fluke.
The young Russian tandem is a crucial strength of the Rangers. Igor Shesterkin, who put up a 7.45 GSAA and a 4.73 GSAx, keeps getting better and Alexandar Georgiev, who put up a -1.3 GSAA and a -3.1 GSAx, complements Shesterkin. Georgiev’s best games have come against the division rivals, the New York Islanders. With the Rangers’ bright future ahead, these goalies can show that the time is now for the team to start winning games and even bringing home a Stanley Cup.
The other Russian goalie tandem in the Metro is among the league’s best duo. Semyon Varlamov, who put up a 21.94 GSAA, a 9.82 GSAx, and seven shutouts, was a top goaltender last season. Ilya Sorokin, who put up a 5.6 GSAA and a 3.37 GSAx in his rookie season, will look to improve in his sophomore season. Each goalie had their moments in the playoffs as well. The Islanders will count on their goalies to lead the charge for the team’s first Stanley Cup in thirty-eight years.