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Vokoun leads goalie brigade starring in new places

Monday, 10.24.2011 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Vokoun leads goalie brigade starring in new places
From unbeaten Tomas Vokoun in Washington to Ilya Bryzgalov in Philadelphia and Semyon Varlamov in Colorado, there's no shortage of netminders getting it done for the teams that went out and acquired them.
Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee entered this past summer pretty happy with his goaltending.

And then Tomas Vokoun landed in his lap.

"Bringing in the veteran experience feels very valuable right now," McPhee told NHL.com. "Nothing seems to bother him. He's a good pro. He practices well, he practices hard. He seems to have a calming influence on the people around him."

He's certainly made things a lot more comfortable for his new teammates. Of the seven big-name goalies to change teams this offseason, none have played better than the 35-year-old Czech.

"Bringing in the veteran experience feels very valuable right now. Nothing seems to bother him. He's a good pro. He practices well, he practices hard. He seems to have a calming influence on the people around him." -- Capitals GM George McPhee on Tomas Vokoun

Vokoun stopped 40 of 42 shots in a 5-2 win against Philadelphia, improving to 5-0-0 on the season, with a 1.95 goals-against average and .939 save percentage. And after allowing five goals in his debut with the Caps, he's allowed five goals total in the last four games.

"You can't do much better than that," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau recently told the Washington Post. "He's pretty solid, and when we did have breakdowns, he's there to help us out and you need that."

The Philadelphia Flyers are saying much the same thing about their new starting goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov. The biggest name on the free-agent market, the Flyers acquired his rights from the Phoenix Coyotes in late June, and signed him to a nine-year, $51.5 million contract to stabilize a position that has been a revolving door for much of the last 20 years.

"We rank Ilya as one of the upper-echelon goalies in the League, and bringing him in, he does give us stability," Holmgren said the day Bryzgalov signed his deal.

He's paid off pretty well so far. He won his first three starts, including wins against both of last spring's Stanley Cup finalists. In all he's 3-1-1 with a 2.59 GAA and .905 save percentage. Those numbers are deceiving, however, because of the five goals he allowed Thursday against Washington, three were deflections off teammates.

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While Bryzgalov putting the Flyers among the conference's elite is no surprise, what's going on in Colorado is a bit of a shock.

With a pair of new goalies, the Avalanche enter the weekend tied with Dallas with 10 points, the most in the Western Conference.

The Avs surrendered a pair of high draft picks to acquire 23-year-old Semyon Varlamov from the Capitals, but so far he's been worth it. He's 3-2-0 in five games, but has allowed more than two goals in a game just once, and has posted a 2.14 GAA and .936 save percentage.

Veteran Jean-Sebastien Giguere, signed as a free agent, has been a fine complement, winning both of his starts, with a 1.49 GAA and .933 save percentage.

Jose Theodore, imported to Florida during its offseason roster rebuild, has been solid as the Panthers are off to a good start. He has all three Panthers wins this season, and has posted a 2.57 GAA and .920 save percentage. The Panthers have six points, tied with three other teams for the seventh-most in the conference entering the weekend.

Mike Smith left Tampa Bay after a rough season for a chance to be a starter again with the Coyotes. He has the big skates of Bryzgalov to fill, and while he has just one win in four games so far, he's allowed only four goals in his last three games.

Ray Emery, who earned a contract in Chicago after arriving at training camp on a tryout deal, has played just one game, allowing three goals on 30 shots in a win against Winnipeg.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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