It's that time of year to earnestly ask: Will Jean-Sebastien Giguere find his form and lead the Anaheim Mighty Ducks to a playoff berth? After their shutout of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday, the Ducks are at 33 points with six points (and the Nashville Predators, Minnesota Wild and Phoenix Coyotes) between them and the Dallas Stars, who occupy the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
For Giguere, the 31 saves in Tampa were significant, as he tries to find consistency on a night-in and night-out basis. With two shutouts in his last four games, he's definitely built a foundation, but there is no room for a setback, which leads to some enormous pressure.
It's nice to see the Ducks honor former goalie Guy Hebert, who will be the first player added to their "Wall of Fame" prior to their game against Columbus on Jan. 11. Hebert was a consummate pro and consistent player for 424 games in a Ducks uniform, 27 of them shutouts, and served countless hours in the community, something he still does. Great stuff for a Division III goalie who most people counted out. Give former St. Louis Blues/Peoria Rivermen goalie coach Wayne Thomas credit for yet another goalie he helped develop and get to a high and consistent level.
Speaking of mini-comebacks, it was good to see Felix Potvin get a win on Monday. Boy did he need that! He made 28 saves and was named third star in the 3-1 win vs. the Washington Capitals. Throughout his career, he has always drifted away for weeks at a time and then has gone on a two-month roll. This may be the beginning.
In Vancouver, Canucks management is really high on Alex Auld, the current backup to Dan Cloutier while Johan Hedberg is out. He is a big kid. He looked good in two games before falling apart against Edmonton, losing 6-2 and appearing ... well, small. We'll keep an eye on his progress to see if he has the ability to be their goalie of the future.
In Philly, Jeff Hackett has lost his last five starts (3.58 GAA and .875 save percentage). But fortunately, Robert Esche is back from a groin injury and looked sharp in Monday's 2-2 tie at Dallas and Ken Hitchcock's return to the city where he won a Stanley Cup in 1999.
St. Louis will be without Chris Osgood for an undetermined amount of time. He left Monday night's game at Columbus after one of his defensemen, Bryce Salvadore, fired a puck off the back of his leg, likely catching a nerve and forcing Brent Johnson in the twine. Osgood has been great and playing with calmness and confidence.
It has been a very difficult year in Chicago but this team never quits as it showed on ESPN2 Sunday by beating Detroit 3-0. Goalie Michael Leighton has two shutouts in his last four starts. With Jocelyn Thibault out, he has shown he has the upside to be a top goalie in this league.
Great move by the Hawks to put two great pictures of the late Keith Magnuson and his No. 3 on the boards, one at the Hawks bench and the other directly across so the players can see what heart and desire is all about.
The top five for this week:
Darren Pang, a former goaltender with the Chicago Blackhawks, is a hockey analyst for ESPN. His goalie rankings appear every other week in Net Effect.