But more disquieting than the greenish tint to playoff goaltending—everybody's first Cup had to come sometime—are the number of established starters for serious Cup contenders whose teams are on tenterhooks.
And quick hooks.
Evgeni Nabokov again backstops win-or-bust San Jose, which was dumped by eighth-seeded Anaheim in the first round last year. He ranked fourth in save percentage and fifth in GAA prior to starting for Russia at the Olympics. In 18 NHL games since being exposed by Team Canada—he gave up six goals in a 7--3 quarterfinal train wreck—Nabokov, who along with Brodeur is the only goalie to have three straight 40-win NHL seasons, had a 2.97 GAA and a .902 save percentage. He also was yanked twice in losses last month.
Nor has the triumphant Olympic goalie, the Canucks' Roberto Luongo, been immune from such jitters. Luongo, whose glove can turn to stone under pressure, has been pedestrian if not embarrassing, except on April 1 in L.A. when the Kings whipped eight past him. He allowed more than one even-strength goal in 12 of 16 post-Olympic starts.
There will be a goalie skating with a 35-pound hunk of hardware one glorious night in mid-June. That's pretty much the guideline. It's also the only guarantee in the confounding world of 2010 NHL playoff goaltending.
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