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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

McKenna Match of the Day: March 4 – Jacob Markstrom vs. Filip Gustavsson

Former NHL goaltender Mike McKenna gives his Daily face-to-face Start of the goalkeeper game of the day for Saturday. March 4, 2023:

Why I love this game:

Take a look at the NHL Western Conference standings. The Calgary Flames are five points from a Stanley Cup berth and are running out of time. As the Minnesota Wild surges: The team sits in second place in the Central Division. It’s been seven games since Gustavsson lost in regulation for the Wild, while Markstrom has suffered a loss in four straight games at Calgary. Each goalkeeper will play a vital role in the home stretch.

To monitor :

Gustavsson not only had an insanely good .930 save percentage, but he also stole starts from Minnesota goalie partner Marc-Andre Fleury. And Gustavsson now faces tough opposition – something that didn’t happen at the start of the season. He’s earned the trust of Wild head coach Dean Evason and looks set to become the NHL’s No. 1 goaltender sooner rather than later. We always expected it: Gustavsson was a second-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016.

Markstrom had nine shutouts in 63 games last year. This season? Zero in 41 outings. Calgary conceded far too many back goals, but Markstrom was too often beaten by clean shots. Markstrom was not far from a technical point of view. But I think sometimes he puts too much weight on his shoulders and can’t relax. Markstrom is at his best when loose and comfortable in the crease. Calgary desperately needs wins. And the reality is that Markstrom has only managed to win more than two straight wins once this year: a three-fight winning streak in late December.

What fantasy owners should do:

Markstrom didn’t perform in fantasy as expected. He doesn’t face a lot of shots and wins have been hard to come by. I would consider sitting him out against Minnesota. But Gustavsson? What a steal for fantasy teams. Start it.

Conclusion for Jacob Markstrom:

At this stage of the season, there is no margin for error. He needs a solid first half.

Conclusion for Filip Gustavsson:

He plays with house money. Will Gustavsson be the Wild’s number one goaltender when the 2022-23 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin? The talented Swede is pleading for this to happen.

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