The Daily Faceoff Show: Which goalies are you starting for Game 1 of the playoffs?

The NHL playoffs are only weeks away.

While many teams are locked in with an ace goalie, there are a handful of team tandems you can go either way.

In Wednesday’s edition of The daily faceoff showFrank Seravalli and Matt Larkin discussed which Minnesota Wild, Los Angeles Kings, Edmonton Oilers and Washington Capitals goaltender is expected to start the playoffs.

Frank Seravalli: Let’s start with the Minnesota Wild – Who is your starter from the first match?

Matt Larkins: I will say Marc-André Fleury. Let’s not think too much about this. He’s a trade-abandoned conditional first-round pick. You’re not giving that up to park a future Hall of Famer and reigning Vezina Trophy winner on the bench.

He has a .930 save percentage since joining the team. It’s a great story what Cam Talbot did, but, it’s ‘Flower’, let’s be honest here.

Frank Seravalli: I agree with you about Fleury there. What about the LA Kings? You have Cal Petersen, who has been better lately, he had struggled for much of the season, and this comes as Jonathan Quick’s numbers have come down a bit.

Matt Larkins: It’s difficult. Jonathan Quick has a track record as one of the all-time goaltenders in NHL playoff history with a .922 save percentage and a Conn Smythe Trophy.

But it’s been four years since he even played in a playoff series. This athletic style is very taxing on his body and I just don’t know if he still has what it takes to hold the load for a full set. I think you start with Cal Petersen and can always give the net back to Jonathan Quick if he falters.

It’s a bit like the situation of Philipp Grubauer and Braden Holtby in 2018.

Frank Seravalli: I like that, because you want to build trust with Petersen going forward, because he has this $5 million annual contract going forward. What about the Edmonton Oilers? Mikko or Mike?

Matt Larkins: I smile because I want to answer « neither », but I have to choose one.

Here’s the thing about Mike Smith: he has a warrior mentality. He is second in NHL history for playoff save percentage at .931. He had a terrible game in the bubble in 2020 against the Chicago Blackhawks, but other than that he’s proven himself time and time again.

Maybe you can get some Dwayne Roloson 2006 magic from the gray beard. Mikko Koskinen has shown a tendency to burn out with heavier workloads. I’m leaning towards Mike Smith. I can’t believe I said those words with my mouth on purpose.

Frank Seravalli: I think a lot of Oilers fans would sit down and ask, « Can we have another answer here to Stuart Skinner? » It looks like, for some reason, the Oilers don’t want to give him a long run in the net.

This brings us to Washington Capitals, likely the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Is it Ilya Samsonov or Vitek Vanecek?

Matt Larkins: I think this is the hardest call on the list. We know Samsonov was supposed to be the heir apparent, he’s the one with the first-round pedigree, he’s supposed to be the long-term star of the net, but every chance he gets, he doesn’t just can’t usurp Vanecek.

Vanecek has been the top goaltender this year. He was last year. Although he’s faltered since the All-Star break, Samsonov has been worse. I think you have to give the net to the guy who was the best, and that’s Vanecek.

You can watch the full episode here…

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