Tale of Two Goalies

After dominating the Florida Panthers for 6+ periods in Finland Friday and Saturday, the Hawks SHOULD be on the plane with a 2-0 record, and 4 points, but poor goaltending cost them a point Friday.  The Hawks outshot the Panthers 55 to 24, and had three blown leads, including the tying goal with 2:21 left in the third.  The Hawks couldn’t get the winner in OT, and the Panthers won in the shootout 4-3.   

It may seem shortsighted, it may seem unfair, but that point lost lies almost completely on the shoulders of Cristobal Huet.  His weak glove hand was exploited again and again by the Panthers.  Seemingly every goal scored was glove high. 

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Cristobal Huet

On the other end of the ice, Florida’s goalie Tomas Vokoun was terrific.  He kept his team in the game while the Hawks went Globetrotters on the defense. 

Huet was the number one concern entering this season, and he did NOTHING to ease those concerns.  It was a poor performance by a guy the entire organization is counting on for wins. 

Saturday was another great performance for the Hawks, but this time the entire team decided to dominate.  Rookie Goalie Antti Niemi faced 23 shots, and turned them all away to earn his first NHL shutout in the Hawks 4-0 win.  He was active with his stick, alert and ready the entire game. 

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Antti Niemi

While the Hawks skated circles around the Panthers, Niemi kept his head in the game and remained focused.  Sometimes, when a team in dominating, a goaltender’s mind can wander.  Niemi’s did not.  He was at his best late in the game. 

He got involved with every play around his net.  His stickwork was brilliant, and prevent three or four scoring chances.  As Florida players tried to carry the puck close to the net, he would lay down the paddle and take away the angle, or poke the puck away.  Friday Huet just dropped to his knees and hoped for the best. 

Expect Cristobal Huet to get the start on Thursday in Detroit, but if Niemi continues to play like this, there will certainly be a goalie controversy.  The Hawks will play the best player.  Salary is not a concern when you’re trying to win a cup.


Jay Zawaski is the Executive Producer of the Danny Mac Show (M-F 9am-1pm) on WSCR The Score, 670 AM.    

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