Prospect Impressions: Lundqvist, Berra, others sparkle in this Goalie Edition

By David Hahn
Jake Allen - St. Louis Blues

Photo: St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen has posted a 1.95 goals-against average and .930 save percentage through 15 games in the 2015-16 season (courtesy of Tim Spyers/Icon Sportswire)



In this special edition of Prospect Impressions, goaltenders from the NHL, AHL, and junior hockey take over to make a week’s worth of highlight-reel saves. King Henrik stood tall on home ice in New York before making news off it, and fellow NHL netminders Reto Berra and Jake Allen kept pace right behind him. Plenty more saves, a fight between players who are now teammates, and a light-hearted, behind-the-scenes look at life as a goaltender are all included.

If there’s one player the New York Rangers can count on, it’s “King” Henrik Lundqvist, who once again is having a phenomenal season. He’s been the go-to guy over the last decade, and fans in New York certainly love him. Case in point, following a ridiculous save-of-the-year candidate, Lundqvist tossed his stick into the crowd and created a frenzy, where one fan went over the top in keeping the memento for himself.

Certainly not a household name, Reto Berra is emerging on the scene in Colorado after being a castoff of the Calgary Flames. The Swiss native put together a Player of the Week-worthy effort, staying as hot as any goalie in the league. He currently leads the NHL in goals-against average and save percentage, giving some hope to the Colorado Avalanche faithful. As locked in as any netminder in the NHL, Berra sees the puck through traffic well, making saves like this one to keep his team in the game.

Hot on the heels of Lundqvist and Berra, St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen is suddenly seeing his share of time in net as Head Coach Ken Hitchcock is riding the hot hand. Allen has responded game after game with solid performances, winning six of his last seven outings. Allen can now join the save-of-the-year candidates in the NHL, after this ridiculous diving glove save.

Mike McKenna has quietly gone about his business in the AHL over the last decade, earning a reputation as a serviceable, veteran option for nine franchises. He enjoyed a successful 2014-15 campaign in Portland, and returned there this season. He has had a rough start so far, but is starting to put it together in recent games. In this weekend’s game against the Providence Bruins, McKenna was tested as he took the game into overtime and finished off the game in style, picking up a shootout win.

Former University of Vermont goaltender Rob Madore chose the Orlando Solar Bears as his free agent destination this summer, and who wouldn’t want to play down there? The sun and sand are certainly attractive options, but so to is a potential path up the ladder in professional hockey. Just ask Garret Sparks, who was arguably the best goaltender in the ECHL last season, and now is the starting goaltender for the first-place Toronto Marlies in the AHL. Madore will need to put up numbers if he hopes to advance, but saves like this certainly don’t hurt his cause.

The Memorial Cup dreams of the Halifax Mooseheads rest squarely on the shoulders of overage goaltender Eric Brassard. Now with his fourth team, Brassard has been one of the most consistent goaltenders in the QMJHL for some time now. He is a capable butterfly-style netminder who has the ability to stretch and steal a goal at the most important times. Just ask Saint John Sea Dogs captain Spencer Smallman, who had a goal robbed by Brassard this week.

It’s not all fun and games for this week’s special goalie edition, as Justin Nichols and Michael Giugovaz decided to settle their differences at center ice. Goalie fights are an increasingly rare occurance, especially considering the suspension cost that comes after. In this case, though, just a couple days after the fight, the London Knights’ Giugovaz was traded to the Guelph Storm to back-up, you guessed it, Justin Nichols. With both players serving five game suspensions for the fight, they will have plenty of time to make up and get to know each other in the press box.

On the lighter side of things, David Leggio was a quality teammate during his career in North America, and liked to keep things light in the locker room. Here is a glimpse of some of his best material, as the light-hearted goaltender impersonates NBC hockey analyst, Pierre McGuire.


Last week’s Prospect Impressions

Follow Dave Hahn on Twitter via @DHahnHockey