Rest for the weary
By Thomas J. Harrigan, Fantasy Sports Writer
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - I'm thinking of taking a little vacation.
Considering how well some rest has worked for some of the NHL's goaltenders, I expect some time off to help spur my productivity through the dead sports period between the Super Bowl and March Madness.
OK, so the goalies I mentioned didn't just take off because they wanted to; all of them were either injured or ill.
But the guys who missed time -- Jonathan Quick, Jaroslav Halak, Sergei Bobrovsky, Anton Khudobin, Ben Bishop and Tim Thomas -- are among the hottest goalies in the NHL.
These six players sat out a combined 87 games before returning at some point in the past couple of weeks.
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
Missed: 24 games
Reason: groin strain
Performance since his return: Quick's backups, Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones, were sensational in his absence, but the former Conn Smythe winner has reaffirmed his hold on the starting job with a 3-1-1 record, a 1.39 GAA, a .942 SV% and a shutout in four starts.
Jaroslav Halak, St. Louis Blues
Missed: five games
Performance since his return: Halak struggled in December, going 3-3-1 with a 3.23 GAA and an .885 SV%, and he couldn't shake an illness toward the end of the month, so the St. Louis Blues sent him home. He's returned in top form, shutting out the Calgary Flames in his first start back and then holding the Phoenix Coyotes to one goal in a win Tuesday night.
Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
Missed: 14 games
Reason: groin strain
Performance since his return: Bobrovsky, the 2012-13 Vezina Trophy winner from the Columbus Blue Jackets, had a GAA of 2.60 in October and 3.00 in November before his injury. He too rediscovered his "A" game during his sabbatical and has gone 3-0-0 with a 1.62 GAA, a .953 SV% and one shutout since returning.
Anton Khudobin, Carolina Hurricanes
Missed: 32 games
Reason: ankle injury
Performance since his return: Cam Ward's timely lower-body injury allowed Khudobin, Ward's expected backup, to claim the starting job upon his return. The 27-year-old won his first four starts after getting back in the crease on Jan. 2 and has gone 4-2-0 with a 2.00 GAA and a .938 SV% since that point.
Tim Thomas, Florida Panthers
Missed: eight games
Reason: groin injury
Performance since his return: Thomas seemingly needed the break more than anymore after going 6-9-1 with a 2.89 GAA and a .904 SV% in the first two months of the season. Of course, the 39-year-old also had all of 2012-13 off. In six starts since he made it back between the pipes, Thomas has gone 3-2-1 with a 1.90 GAA and a .940 SV%.
Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning
Missed: four games
Reason: sprained wrist
Performance since his return: Bishop stopped 33 of the 34 shots the New York Rangers sent his way Tuesday and is 23-5-3 with a 1.83 GAA and a .937 SV% this season. He has another long break coming up in February after the USA Olympic team snubbed him in favor of Ryan Miller, Jimmy Howard and Quick.
Getting a rest didn't work for everyone. Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford is winless in five starts since returning from a four-week absence due to a lower-body injury.
However, his struggles have more to do with the timing of his comeback than the quality of his play. He posted a strong .925 SV% in his five starts but faced 34.4 SOG per game in that span, so his GAA was only 2.52. Plus, four of his five losses came in overtime or the shootout.
Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings sat out three weeks in December due to a sprained MCL and has gone 2-2-1 with a 2.75 GAA in five starts since returning, but he too has posted an excellent SV% (.922). In fact, Howard allowed two goals or less in three of those five starts while making 44 saves in two of them, so it hasn't been all bad.
The next return from a lengthy absence should come from Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding, who has started just two games since Dec. 17 while dealing with an adjustment to his medication for multiple sclerosis.
Harding skated with his teammates Tuesday morning and appears to be on the comeback trail.
As for Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals? He appears to be on a permanent (paid) vacation.
01/15 17:14:59 ET