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Overview of the first quarter of the NHL season

Already a quarter of season has passed in the NHL. Even if 20 games is not much in an 82 games season, we can have a little taste of what the rest of the season is going to look like. This first review will show the most important points in this beginning of the season.

THE UNDERDOGS STRIKE BACK

At the end of the last season, 2 goalies were in "danger of career ending". Chris Osgood and Roman Turek were criticized by many hockey fans et many couldn't understand why the Flames and Islanders GMs dared to sign those goalies.

But, Osgood and Turek are the only goalies to reach the top of the ranking since the beginning of the season. In addition, the Flames and the Islanders were leading their respective conference.

Will the fairy tale continue until the playoffs? The answer is directly linked with the chances of the Flames and the Islanders to play hockey next spring... something they haven't done for a while.

THE 2001 SURPRISES HAVING PROBLEMS

The 2000-2001 season showed some newcomers and veterans that nobody thought could dominate in the NHL. In fact, Mike Dunham, Ron Tugnutt, Manny Fernandez and Roman Cechmanek were the biggest surprises last year.

But, the first quarter of the 2001 seasons is not a good one for them. None of these goaltenders has reached the top 30 of the GoalieMania rankings (19 nov.):

bulletMike Dunham (nas) : 30th 
bulletManny Fernandez (min) : 42nd 
bulletRon Tugnutt (cmb) : 33rd 
bulletRoman Cechmanek (phi): 35th 

These disappointing performances are, for some, the beginning of a struggle to keep their starting goalie spot and for the others, like Dunham and Cechmanek, it could cost their place in the Olympic team.

THE NEW NUMBER 1 GOALIES AND THE ROOKIES

Each season brings new face in front of the NHL nets. Some back-ups are having promotion and rookies are making their debuts in the big league. This year, 2 new goaltenders were officially named as number 1 and only one rookie is playing regularly.

Martin Biron has a big hole to fill in Buffalo. He has to replace the DOMINATOR. He's doing pretty well since the beginning of the season; in fact, his 24th place left him only 4 places short of Hasek. Biron even was in the top 10 for the first 3 weeks.

The other new #1 goalie is JS Gigučre at Anaheim. In a battle with Steve Shield in the beginning of the season, he overplayed him with a 14th place against a 31st for Shield. If he keeps playing well like this, Guy Hebert is going to be soon forgetten in Anaheim.

Another goalie that could be name number 1 soon is Milan Hillock (27th) who is taking the lead against Damian Rhodes who is definitely getting old.

Finally, THE rookie between the pipes this year, THE only one who is playing regularly, Dan Blackburn. Sharing the job with the "forever Rangers" Mike Richter, the 18 years old has played some good game especially one against the Habs when he literally stole the game. It's easy to predict that he is going to win the Belfour award of the GOALIEMANIA section awarded to the best rookie goalie.

PATRICK ROY GIVES UP FOR THE OLYMPICS

His place was practically a given as number one goalie of team Canada but Patrick Roy decided not to go to Salt Lake City. With his forfeit, Curtis Joseph and Martin Brodeur, even if he's playing poorly since the beginning of the season, are probably going to be the 2 goaltenders for Canada. The young Roberto Lungo has the lead for the place of 3rd goaltender. Luongo is already among the best of the league and has a bright future.


 

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