As political pundits across the United States analyze opinion polls from key presidential swing states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, members of three factions of the National Hockey League have their own numbers to crunch.
Fans of the Montreal Canadiens, the New York Rangers, and the New Jersey Devils have certainly heated up the race for the Eastern Conference’s starting goaltender in the NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 27 at Philips Arena in Atlanta.
Canadiens goalie Cristobal Huet, a first-time All-Star last season, leads the race by more than 15,000 votes. That’s both a tribute to the passionate puckheads in Montreal, and the fans understanding of exactly how good Huet is despite surrendering some of his net this season to rookie sensation Carey Price.
Huet, who is currently battling a groin problem, still has seven wins as the Canadiens have been one of the NHL’s most pleasant surprises. Huet’s 2.35 GAA is fourth in the East, and his .926 save percentage is third in the conference.
Henrik Lundqvist, who currently ranks second in the polls, didn’t need to win over fans in New York. He already did that last year when they dubbed him “King Henrik.”
Now he’s well on his way to a career year and it’s obvious the rest of the League has noticed, too.
Heading into Wednesday night’s action Lundqvist was the NHL leader with 14 wins and was tops in the Eastern Conference with his scintillating 1.91 goals-against average and four shutouts.
Buoyed by the voting muscle in the United States’ largest hockey market, Lundqvist leads nine-time All-Star and cross-river rival Martin Brodeur by a slim margin.
Brodeur, though, is making a push these days backstopping the streaking Devils, who have won eight straight after Wednesday night’s overtime win over the Bruins.
After his sluggish start, Brodeur now has 12 wins, a 2.29 GAA (third in the East), a .911 save percentage and two shutouts.
Not to be totally outdone, Philadelphia goalie Martin Biron has won over many hearts in the City of Brotherly Love. For helping the Flyers in their resurgent season, Biron has more than 71,000 ticks next to his name. He’ll need a push over this final month before the polls close, but underdogs have been known to make a splash in the waning moments of a race.