Denis plays vs. Panthers
Okay, I have to say this one surprised me. Marc Denis had a chance to not only solidify, perhaps, the No. 1 spot Saturday against the Senators, he also could have built some trust with his teammates. Instead, he gave up five goals on 23 shots, including a backbreaking fourth goal, and was pulled. A perfect spot for Johan Holmqvist to return from the flu, right? Apparently not as Denis will get the start tonight against the Panthers.
Almost everyone watching the morning skate was taken by surprise and coach John Tortorella would not address it when he spoke to reporters other than to say, "Denis is in net.''
So, what's up? Despite Torts always saying such decisions come down to his gut, this one might be totally stats driven. Holmqvist is 1-1-1 with an .851 save percentage and a 4.53 goals-against average this season against the Panthers. Lifetime against Florida, Denis is 3-2-1 with a 1.82 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage. Hard to argue with that. But here's the interesting part.
Holmqvist is 13-4-1 with a 2.37 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage this season at the St. Pete Times Forum. Away he is 11-10-1 with a 3.32 goals-against average and an .881 save percentage. So what happens if Denis stinks tonight? You go with Holmqvist on the road Friday against the Hurricanes? And how many chances is Denis supposed to get?
Also, don't expect to see Karri Ramo start a game this season. Torts kind of floated that idea when the 20-year-old was called up from AHL Springfield. But after he allowed two goals on five shots Saturday against Ottawa in relief of Denis, the confidence isn't there with Torts or the players.
Crazy, isn't it, that 76 games into the season we are still dealing with this mess. Like I said in today's paper. It's like Torts is down to using a Ouija board.