Thomas Greiss has one win in 11 starts, with a 1-8-2 record for the Detroit Red Wings.
That’s … not very good.
Then again, Jimmy Howard went 2-23-2 for Detroit last season, so it’s not like the rebuilding Red Wings have been giving their goalies much support. And while Greiss’ record is forgettable, his underlying stats aren’t nearly as bad.
Among the 55 NHL netminders who have appeared in at least three games this season, Greiss ranks 28th in save percentage (.904) and 31st in goals-against average (2.90). Not great, but not worst-in-the-league bad, either, especially when you remember the porous team in front of him.
And if you dig a little deeper, you’ll see that Greiss has yet to give up more than three goals in a game this season – meanwhile, the Wings have scored more than two goals for him only twice in 11 games – and his even-strength save percentage of .926 ranks 15th out of 55. He hasn’t been terrible at all, he’s just not getting a lot of help, defensively or offensively.
So, despite his ragged record, we’re giving Greiss a pass on this list of NHL netminders who have struggled through the opening quarter of the 2020-21 NHL season.
Here are 10 NHL goalies who could use a do-over:
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
With a 2-2-2 record, Quick looks like a Vezina Trophy candidate compared to Greiss. But while some numbers can be deceiving, these ones are not: Quick’s .867 save percentage ranks 53rd out of 55 goalies who have played at least three games this season, his .837 even-strength save percentage is dead last at 55th and his 4.05 GAA is second-last at 54th. Kings backup Cal Petersen has an inferior record (1-4-1) but vastly superior stats (2.56 GAA, .925 save percentage).
Tristan Jarry, Pittsburgh Penguins
A little over a year ago, Jarry was on top of the world. He was breaking out big-time, going from unheralded backup to Vezina candidate. But then the bottom fell out and Jarry hasn’t been the same since. His .857 save percentage this season ranks 54th out of 55 goalies and his 3.95 GAA ranks 53rd. Jarry has given up fewer than three goals just once in seven starts.
Matt Murray, Ottawa Senators
Like most of the other goalies on this list, Murray isn’t getting much help from the team in front of him. The Pens-turned-Sens netminder allowed three or more goals in each of his first seven starts, with a season-opening 5-3 win over Toronto followed by six straight losses. At least he’s stabilized in recent outings, with six goals against in his past three starts. He’s 46th out of 55 in GAA (3.63) and tied for 43rd in save percentage (.886). But that’s still better than backup Marcus Hogberg, who’s last overall in both GAA (4.80) and save percentage (.837).
Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks
Jones has not been a Vezina contender since, well, forever, unless you count his sixth-place finish in 2016-17 when he received one third-place vote. Look up recent NHL leaders in GAA and save percentage, and you won’t find Jones’ name anywhere near the top of the list. He did, however, rack up four consecutive 30-plus win seasons with San Jose before things went sideways last year (17-21-2). And the Sharks usually give him plenty of offensive support, which continues this season – Jones is 5-2-0 despite the fact he’s given up at least three goals in six of seven starts. He ranks 50th out of 55 in both GAA (3.70) and save percentage (.878). Devan Dubnyk, meanwhile, has posted much more respectable stats (2.91 GAA, .917 save percentage), but he’s still looking for his first win in a Sharks jersey (0-3-1).
Juuse Saros, Nashville Predators
Pekka Rinne’s replacement has yet to fully grasp the starting job in Nashville. To be sure, the Predators aren’t the same team that went to the Stanley Cup final in 2017, but team defense remains their biggest strength. So the fact that Saros is 48th out of 55 in GAA (3.68) and tied for 49th in save percentage (.881) leaves a lot to be desired. He’s given up 15 goals in his past two-and-a-half games (he was mercifully pulled in one of those outings after allowing five goals on 24 shots in less than two periods).
Braden Holtby, Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks have been under attack since the puck dropped on the 2020-21 NHL campaign, with a team GAA (3.92) that ranks second-last in the league, ahead of only Ottawa (4.13). The blame cannot be solely pinned on the beleaguered goaltending tandem of Holtby and Thatcher Demko, but it’s not like they’ve been a big part of the solution, either. Holtby (3-5-0, 3.75 GAA, .885 save percentage) and Demko (3-5-0, 3.81 GAA, .897 save percentage) rank 51st and 52nd in GAA, respectively, and they’re not much better when it comes to save percentage. Holtby, brought in to mentor Demko, has surrendered at least three goals in seven of eight starts.
Mikko Koskinen, Edmonton Oilers
Speaking of goalies under fire, meet Mikko Koskinen. The Oilers netminder has faced 420 shots, which isn’t as groovy as it sounds when you realize that it’s over 100 shots more than the league’s second-busiest goalie. With backup Mike Smith on the shelf for the first few weeks of the season, Koskinen manned the crease in Edmonton’s first 10 games and he’s started 13 of 15 contests to date. His 6-7-0 record isn’t awful, but he needs to significantly improve his GAA (3.43) and save percentage (.895). It would help if the Oilers would help.
Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers
Yes, he’s 5-2-2 and remains an up-and-coming goaltender on a Cup-contending team. But it’s been a rough season so far for Hart, who has allowed at least four goals in five of nine starts, resulting in a 3.49 GAA that ranks 44th out of 55, and his .897 save percentage isn’t much better. The erstwhile Brian Elliott, meantime, is 3-1-0 with a 2.19 GAA and .929 save percentage.
James Reimer, Carolina Hurricanes
At 5-1-0, Reimer’s record is even better than Hart’s, so what’s he doing on this list? Well, platoon partner Petr Mrazek went down with a wrist injury and Reimer promptly went out and gave up five goals in back-to-back games against Chicago and Columbus, two teams that will never be mistaken for the 1980s Oilers. His GAA ballooned to 3.13 in the process, while his save percentage dipped to .883. Carolina has high hopes this season, and they’ll need much better goaltending than that to accomplish their Cup-contending aspirations.
Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida Panthers
Another goalie whose respectable record masks underlying issues. For sure, it feels strange to include a netminder who still hasn’t suffered a regulation-time loss and who’s coming off a 2-1 victory in which he recorded 31 saves. But given that Bobrovsky bombed out in Florida last season in the first year of his seven-year, $70-million deal, the pressure is on to deliver a better effort this time around. His 3.07 GAA is too high, his .899 save percentage too low.