McKenna Match of the Day: Dec. 31 – Connor Hellebuyck vs. Jack Campbell

Former NHL goaltender Mike McKenna gives his Daily face-to-face Start of the goalkeeper game of the day for Saturday. December 31, 2022:

Why I love this game:

Hellebuyck has allowed three or fewer goals in his last five outings. Campbell has allowed three or more in his last seven starts. Which is breaking the trend tonight?

To monitor :

I have been so impressed with Hellebuyck this season. The Jets goaltender has a .926 save percentage in 27 games played – second most in the NHL. And the numbers don’t lie. Hellebuyck has dominated hard at times, and it has a lot to do with his puck tracking. I thought last season he sometimes struggled with that. But this year, Hellebuyck seems intensely focused. He struggles to make athletic saves when needed. And use his mechanics to be in position early.

As Stuart Skinner loses time in the Oilers crease, Campbell has been relegated to a supporting role despite his $5 million per year cap. He only played three games in December, with mixed results. Campbell is 1-1-1 on the month and allowed 12 goals. His save percentage of .876 is the lowest in the NHL among goaltenders who have played at least 15 games. Still, Campbell is 8-6-1 this season, a testament to Edmonton’s scoring ability. Campbell has yet to find the level of patience he showed at the start of last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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What fantasy owners should do:

I would follow the numbers. Even against the powerful Oilers offense, I would start Hellebuyck. And unless your team is desperate to win, I’ll leave Campbell on the bench.

Conclusion for Connor Hellebuyck:

The first game of the year against the Oilers. Find a way to stop Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

Conclusion for Jack Campbell:

Allow two or less, win and set the stage for 2023.

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