As has been widely reported, Coach Boudreau said of Viktor Fasth, “”He’s doing what he’s supposed to do, which is make coaches make tough decisions.”
Fasth came to our Ducks as one of only three goalies to win the prestigious Honken Trophy as Sweden’s top goalie more than once. The others are NY Rangers Henrik Lundqvist who owned it for 3 consecutive seasons. Johan Holmqvist won it in 2005-06 and again in 2008-09. Given this lineage, the Honken Trophy might be the most prestigious goalie award after the Vezina.
Fasth is also here on a mission. He’s looking to be a starting goaltender in the NHL. All goalies are of course. You probably don’t want one willing to accept a backup role, unless it’s an aging vet.
Many are at least enamored if not flat-out giddy by Fasth’s quick start. Among them are OC Register’s Eric “Ice” Stephens, tsn.ca’s Pierre Lebrun, NHL.com’s Curtis Zupke, and large audience Hockey Buzz blogger Steve Palumbo. Giddy is understandable, in four games Viktor Fasth is 4-0, .962 SP and 0.98 GAA and oh yeah 1 SO.
Expect Fasth to get the next start in Dallas Friday night. Gabby is a traditionalist and the rule of thumb is a goalie gets the next start following a shut out.
There is an opportunity to exploit a tendency in Fasth’s game. He likes to play deep in the crease. Because of this, there’s a lot of exposed net available high stick side. If I see it , you can bet the pro’s see it as well. Count on Stars’ snipers Jamie Benn, Loui Ericksson, Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney to begin testing Fasth high stick side as soon as Friday night.
It should be noted that I don’t see another flaw in Fasth at this time. He keeps the elbows tight to the body eliminating the 7-9 holes. He has quick lateral movement embellished by playing deep in the crease. Rebound control and puck handling is excellent. As Daymond Langkow can attest, Fasth has an excellent glove hand. He could well be the real deal. I’m just not ready to jump on the band wagon.
Following the Wild game, Coach noted Fasth looked like he was fighting the puck a bit. That’s not so much a criticism as an observation. All goalies fight the puck from time to time. The good one’s settle down and correct. Fasth did.
So where does all this leave Jonas Hiller? He’s only a proven All Star, the guy who allowed us to trade Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy winner J.S. Giguere and the guy we called upon 73 times last season. It’s not like he’s done anything particularly special, no?
This leaves Hiller in the surprising position of staying or getting sharp and waiting for his next opportunity. It could come Friday but I doubt it.
Starting Fasth Friday will fuel a so-called goalie controversy that sells newspapers and gives otherwise not so hockey-smart bloggers the opportunity to practice yellow journalism. Hilly knows the rule though. Get a shut out, you get the next start. End of story, and controversy.
Besides, Friday isn’t the plum start this week anyway. The showcase comes Saturday when our surging Ducks face the 6-3 Blues who are in the midst of a four game home stand. It’ll be our Ducks second of back-2-back road games. Exactly the kind of game in which you need your goalie to come up big.
I don’t mean to diminish any importance on the Stars’ game. All games are magnified in a shortened season. If Hilly takes it up a notch against St. Louis, we’ll be treated to the best Ducks net-minding since the hey days of Jiggy & Breezy.