Despite the Penguins spotting the New Jersey Devils a couple of goals, Casey DeSmith was strong enough in goal to lead the Penguins to another big win
When a goaltender allows four goals, that’s typically a sign that he needs to be replaced.
When a goaltender allows four goals, and you feel lucky that his efforts actually limited the chances, you need to tip your cap to him. Despite scoring six goals in a win against the Devils Friday, DeSmith was awarded the Penguins’ player of the game helmet.
DeSmith made perhaps the best save of the NHL season so far against the Devils, diving wildly across the crease to make a miraculous save in a tied game.
Devils defensemen Damon Severson collected a pass from teammate Nick Merkley in the slot and fired a shot that was blocked by Bryan Rust. The rebound bounced to Devils forward Jesper Boqvist in a prime scoring area and his almost guaranteed goal was denied by a diving DeSmith.
In a save reminiscent of Marc-Andre Fleury during his time with the Pens and Vegas Golden Knights, DeSmith shot across the crease to get his blocker in place to rob Boqvist of a sure-fire goal. While the Penguins would go on to claim a 6-4 victory over the Devils, that save during a tied 2-2 contest was crucial.
DeSmith has been the victim of some absolutely awful defensive play in front of him and even worse puck luck over the past three contests.
With a save percentage in the .930s and a goals against average below 2.00, DeSmith was showcasing why he was the most underrated goaltender in the league. Two games below a .800 save percentage and a .867 against the Devils may point to a regress over the past three games, but his actual play has kept the Penguins alive in close games.
DeSmith was on the hook for six goals allowed against the Bruins last Saturday in a game where the Penguins forgot how to play defense, and when Tristan Jarry was chased in a game against the New York Rangers last week, DeSmith was on the hook for four goals on 14 shots in another game where defense was optional.
Friday’s game against the Devils was just another example of awful puck luck. The Devils scored two goals, Kris Letang was bodied in front of the net and the pairing of Mike Matheson and Cody Ceci were unable to clear the puck, and that was two easy goals for the Devils.
A 6-4 final became close because of a wild bounce off Letang’s skate from a centering pass from behind the net, careening into the net behind DeSmith, and a poor decision from Brian Dumoulin to put a puck on DeSmith, the puck catching him off guard and trickling into the net.
It was awful puck luck for DeSmith, but while his stats may take the hit for it, he’s turned into truly an upper-tier goaltender in the NHL.
What do you think of Casey DeSmith’s play of late? Let me know in the comments!