Alex Stalock got hot this season. Is he for real or is this just a one-off?
As mentioned early, Alex Stalock has had a career year this season. In the eighteen games he played before the season ended, he went 11-5-2 and had a .920 save percentage. For the year, he was about league average save percentage (.910) and a 2.67 GAA which is better than the league average 2.82.
The issue with this is he’s only been at or better than league average only two other seasons. In the 2017-2018 season, he was only a hair below league average with a .910 save percentage and a 2.85 GAA (league avg was .912 and 2.78), and in his first full season in 2013-2014, Alex Stalock had a phenomenal .932 save percentage and a 1.87 GAA (league avg was .914 and 2.56).
So at near 33years old, is Alex Stalock really developing into a starting goaltender in the NHL? Difficult to say.
Alex Stalock is also in the rare breed of undersized goaltenders in the NHL. Hockey Reference lists Stalock at a perhaps generous 6′ 0″. Even more uncommon is how much Stalock plays the puck compared to other goalies and it seems like even the Wild Social Media Managers are aware of this:
He’s also got a much more “team-friendly” contract than Dubnyk. Stalock is at $785k a year for two more seasons vs Duby’s $4.3M for one more year. So the Wild are getting better goaltending (at least right now) for cheaper.
The question is consistency. Will we continue to see this type of performance from Stalock? One pattern that arose while the Wild were riding Stalock is that he would play fairly well and win games for the Wild and then have an absolute stinker. This season, in games that he’s started, Stalock has lost games allowing 4+ goals eight times this season, six of which are in the last twenty-two games.
So maybe the game plan shouldn’t be just giving the net to Stalock, but rather split the net on a near 50/50? It seems to be the new dominant strategy for dominant teams:
Boston Bruins, Stanley Cup Runner Up split the net between Tuuka Rask and Jaroslav Halak 46GP/40GP.
Dallas Stars, who lost to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion, split goaltending time between Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin with 46 GP/41GP.
New York Islanders, swept Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round, split time in net between Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss 46GP/43GP.
It appears management and coaching staff have realized that they can get a bit extra out of each goaltender by giving closer to an equal timeshare in the net. It keeps your 1A fresh and in peak condition for longer and ideally the more important times, and it’ll keep your 1B in playing shape and effective should he be needed because of poor performance by the 1A or an injury.
What do the Wild do if Stalock isn’t the longterm answer in the net?