A position that is widely considered as the backbone of any hockey team, goaltending is always important. While you may be able to get away with a lack of defense if you have really good scoring or vice versa, if you don’t have at least decent goaltending, you’re not going to make it very far in this league.
For Carolina, Petr Mrazek has had a pretty good start to the season. He currently has a 2.62 GAA and a .904 SV%. What makes him stand out for the Hurricanes is his ability to play at home in front of the Carolina faithful, but he has to prove he can perform on the road as well. If he starts this game, this is an opportunity for him to take that next step and show he can perform away from PNC Arena as well.
James Reimer has struggled so far with the Hurricanes. This can be from any number of factors, but the good thing is, he had a great start in his last outing against the Minnesota Wild. He stopped 32 of 35 shots and got the win. If he does end up starting this game, this is Reimer’s chance to show some consistency and prove he can be a steady backup.
For the Blackhawks, Corey Crawford hasn’t had a bad season so far but his age is certainly starting to show. He currently has a 4-4-2 record with a 3.02 GAA and a .914 SV%. In his last start, he stopped 33-34 shots and got the win against the Buffalo Sabres 4-1. Considering that he started their last game, I can’t see him starting this one, especially because of who their other option is.
Robin Lehner is the other net minder for Chicago. Hurricanes fans will remember him because he was the starter for the New York Islanders in the 2nd round of the playoffs last year and I’m sure he’ll be seeking redemption. Either way, he has been fantastic for the Blackhawks. He’s posted a 5-3-2 record with a 2.46 GAA and a .936 SV%. Carolina will have to exploit his weaknesses just like last year if he starts.
If I had to guess, I’d say the goalie matchup would be Petr Mrazek and Robin Lehner. Mrazek will have to stand on his head and show he can be consistent on the road. The Hurricanes will have to figure out how to solve Lehner just like they did in the 2nd Round of last years playoffs. A combination of these factors will help Carolina seal their fourth straight victory.