Very few people, and certainly not oddsmakers, were ready for some of the hot starts this year. Phoenix and Colorado, ranked 3rd and 4th respectively on TSN’s Power Rankings, are two teams that were expected to compete for last place in their divisions, but instead have been winning consistently.
Why? Both teams’ goaltenders, acquired for next to nothing, are off to incredible starts to the season.
Record: 8-4-0, 16 points
Standings: 3rd in Division, 5th in Conference
Best Odds: 28/1 Division (Stan James), 40/1 Conference (Gamebookers), 125/1 Cup (Stan James)
Ilya Bryzgalov has been the main reason for the Coyotes’ early success. He leads the league with three shutouts and has a miniscule GAA of 1.77. Phoenix is on a 6-2-0 run and just won back-to-back road games.
Phoenix coach Dave Tippett understands that solid goaltending is key to the Coyotes’ success. “That’s what I think the identity of our team is – we’re going to score by committee and get good goaltending that gives us a chance to win,” said Tippett.
Bryzgalov was acquired on waivers at the beginning of the 2007-2008 season from Anaheim.
Record: 10-1-2, 22 points
Standings: 1st in Division, 1st in Conference
Best Odds (note: Oddsmakers have significantly adjusted the odds on Colorado): 4/1 Division (Stan James), 22/1 Conference (Stan James), 50/1 Cup (Canbet)
Colorado, led by the goaltender known only as Cranderson, has taken the NHL by surprise. After Friday, the Avs will already have completed a seven-game road trip, and are in the midst of another trip that started with back-to-back wins in Edmonton and Calgary, continues to San Jose on Friday, and then back to Vancouver on Sunday.
Cranderson has started every game for the Avs this season, has two shutouts and a 1.97 GAA. Most impressive however is his .940 save percentage. Colorado has been outshot in 9 of its 10 wins, and was tied at 36 shots apiece for the other game.
“(We’d) like to cut down on the number of shots, and as a coach you’re always looking for areas to improve,” coach Joe Sacco said. “But if Andy (Cranderson) sees the shots from the outside, he’s going to stop them.”
Cranderson is making a mere $1.5 million this season and was signed as a free agent after spending last season as Tomas Vokoun’s backup in Florida.
Authors note: this article is not meant to discount the torrid start the Sabres have had to the season. They are currently the top team in TSN’s power rankings.