Ken Warren’s 10 Takes: On Emery then and now, Olympic goalies and the return of the King

Can you be a good coach without good goaltending?

Ken Warren’s 10 Takes: On Emery then and now, Olympic goalies and the return of the King
Goaltender Josh Harding #37 of the Minnesota Wild warms up prior to the game against the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on October 19, 2013 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Can you be a good coach without good goaltending?

Earlier this week, Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said that Sergei Bobrovsky’s stellar goaltending last season made him a better coach.

Yet now that Bobrovsky is struggling, allowing the seemingly long-forgotten Curtis McElhinney a second (or third?) chance at seeing regular time in the NHL, Richards’ coaching is being second-guessed. And third-guessed.

All that is the launching point for this week’s Ten Takes: An all-goaltending edition featuring the likes of Ray Emery (then and now), Semyon Varlamov, Henrik Lundqvist, Robin Lehner, Ben Bishop, Craig Anderson, Ryan Miller, Tim Thomas, Carter Hutton and a coach who knows a thing or two about stopping the puck, a guy named Patrick Roy.

SUGAR RAY EMERY

Jason Spezza offered support for his old friend after Emery’s mauling of Washington’s Braden Holtby, but the Philadelphia goalie is being widely criticized. NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan candidly said “I hate what Ray Emery did,” but was at a loss to find a way to suspend him. Accordingly, it’s expected to be a hot topic at the next round of GM’s meetings. A future Emery Board ruling, anyone? For you Philly fans who endorsed it all, scoring big punches is one thing, but scoring goals is the biggest need in the Flyers’ world.

THANKS, BUT NYET THANKS

Emery’s antics, which received widespread attention on sports highlight (lowlight?) packages everywhere, took considerable attention away from Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov, who spent the previous night in jail on domestic violence and kidnapping charges. Varlamov thanked his Russian colleagues for their support, but he would have been better served if they had stayed mum. Columbus’s Fedor Tyutin has since apologized for comments that “it’s just American laws are on the women’s side.” We’ve yet to hear an apology from Russian politician Igor Aninskikh, claiming the arrest is part of a grand conspiracy to hurt Russia’s chances of winning Olympic gold.

THE KING RETURNS

In his first eight games of the season, New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist couldn’t stop a truck, let alone a puck, posting an .886 save percentage. Not surprisingly, the Rangers were 2-6 in those games. Since then, Lundqvist is sporting a .964 mark, including an impressive 5-1 win over Pittsburgh. The Rangers’ record is now 8-8-0, putting them in third spot in the weak Metropolitan Division before Friday’s games.

LUNDQVIST-LEHNER TANDEM?

Barring an injury, Sweden will put its trust in Lundqvist to backstop them to gold in Sochi. Lehner, however, could be in line to become Sweden’s No. 2 or No. 3 goaltender at the Olympics. Lehner has a .947 save percentage, second in the NHL. In seven games, Lehner has faced 242 shots. Minnesota’s Josh Harding, who leads the league in goals against average and save percentage, has faced 273 shots in 13 games.

WILD COMEBACK

Too bad for Harding that a player can only win the Masterton Trophy once. Harding, who won that honour last season, continues to excel despite dealing with Multiple Scleroris, a wildly unpredictable disease which often leaves sufferers dealing with chronic fatigue and vertigo. With a record of 8-2-2 and a 1.16 save percentage, his numbers are better than those of Carey Price, Roberto Luongo, Marc-Andre Fleury, Mike Smith or anyone else in consideration for the Canadian Olympic team crease.

WHAT ABOUT ANDERSON?

Buffalo’s Ryan Miller, who has won only two games so far — including a career-high 50-save victory over San Jose this week — is the odds-on favourite to tend the American net. Jonathan Quick, who has struggled early this season, posted a 19-save shutout Thursday to get back above the .900 mark in save percentage, but the door may have opened for the Senators’ Craig Anderson and former Senator Ben Bishop to get Olympic attention. Bishop already has 10 wins with Tampa.

MILLER TIME RUNNING OUT

Among the many questions Buffalo Sabres fans should be asking is whether Miller will be traded before or after the Olympic break. Here’s another one: Was the hiring of Randy Cunneyworth as a scout an indication that he’s the coach in waiting if and when Ron Rolston is fired? The former Senators captain faced a no-win situation as interim coach in Montreal, but the next coach of the Sabres will inherit a team overloaded with future draft picks. And that’s before the inevitable Miller deal.

WAITING ON THOMAS

The Senators know all too well about Tim Thomas’s brilliant background in Ottawa, but it may be too much to expect him to end the Florida Panthers’ terrible slide here Saturday. Thomas is close to returning from his undisclosed lower body injury, but the Panthers will arrive at the Canadian Tire Centre riding an 0-3-4 record since Oct. 19. Thomas, of course, couldn’t get back soon enough to save coach Kevin Dineen’s job.

STORY OF SURVIVAL

If Carter Hutton keeps this up, somebody in Nashville (Mike Fisher’s wife, perhaps?) might get around to writing a feel good ditty about never giving up on the dream of becoming a big league goaltender. Hutton, a Thunder Bay native who has played for seven pro teams in the past four seasons, has quietly posted a 4-1-1 record with Nashville workhouse Pekka Rinne sidelined. A couple weeks back, Hutton received his first NHL victory in Winnipeg, as close to a hometown NHL victory as could be.

THE ROY-AL TOUCH

Patrick Roy’s methods are clearly questionable — losing his cool, earning a $10,000 fine in the season opener and starting a goalie the night after a jail stay — but you can’t argue with his stunning early-season success as Colorado’s coach. Before losing to Hutton’s Predators Wednesday, Colorado had rolled out to stunning 12-1 start. Perhaps that loss was good news. The last team to begin the year 13-1 was the 2007-08 Senators. Ultimately, that didn’t turn out so well for coach John Paddock. Paddock was fired in a season where much of the focus was about … Ray Emery. Have a great weekend, everyone.

Twitter.com/Citizenkwarren

What do you think? Leave a comment