If you are a fan of NHL goaltending, you have probably heard the tales of Jim Carey and Blaine Lacher.
During the 1994-95 season, both Carey and Lacher burst onto the scene with their impressive display of goaltending. Both took their teams, the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins, respectively, to the post-season and put up impressive numbers doing so.
The following season was a different story for each player. While Carey would go on to win the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top netminder, Lacher would fade into obscurity in the AHL and IHL before hanging up the pads.
Carey would follow Lacher the following season as he struggled with both the Capitals and then the Bruins once he was traded there. He was then moved to the St. Louis Blues and after not playing well, he went down to the IHL and ended up retiring due to an inner-ear concussion.
These two goaltenders simply collapsed and lost their confidence. They were one-save wonders who after a successful season or two, disappeared from the game.
Currently, there is another NHL goaltender doing wonders as a rookie for the Anaheim Ducks.
Viktor Fasth, 30, is 8-0 to begin his career and has terrific statistics to go with it (8-0, 1.78 GAA, .933 save percentage, one shutout).
This probably has to make people wonder if this will be another Carey or Lacher. We are of the belief that Fasth will end having a much different career than the two plagued netminders above.
For starters, Fasth has a lot more professional experience than Carey and Lacher did when they first came to the NHL. Prior to signing with the Ducks, Fasth spent two seasons in the Swedish Elite League with AIK and absolutely dominated his position as he won the Honken Trophy, given to the best netminder in Sweden.
In that time span, Fasth also learned how to be a professional athlete. He paid attention to all the details of his game, learned what he needed to adjust in order to get better and how to work on his game during practice.
Stefan Persson, Fasth’s goaltending coach with AIK, told NHL.com that he is glad to see Fasth progressing in the league by continuing to use the style of play he developed while playing in Sweden.
“It’s fun to see that his plan works even in the NHL,” Persson said. “I think their goalie coach Pete Peeters had asked to play a little more aggressively in the NHL, and he had tried it in the camp, but it’s also important for a goalie to stick to his style, because if he changes it too much, and it doesn’t work, he may never get another chance.”
Fasth’s age is also a positive factor. While he may be considered a rookie in the NHL, he is someone that carries himself like a veteran.
“When I saw his attention to details,” Persson told NHL.com. “I realized he’d go far. He’s also a very modest person. He says he’s never the best, but he just keeps working hard to see how good he can get. Maybe this is as good as he gets, maybe he can be even better.”
Fasth is already learning how to deal with competition between the pipes. For the last few seasons, Jonas Hiller had always been the starter in goal for the Ducks.
While Fasth might have gotten his start when Hiller was injured, he now has to make sure he stays on top of his game both on and off the ice so he can continue to get playing time. This will only help Fasth get better as his NHL career moves forward.
With his stellar play for his hockey club, Fasth has gained many supporters. He especially has one in teammate Teemu Selanee, who told USA Today hockey scribe Kevin Allen that he sees a lot of a former Ducks goaltender in Fasth.
“Since the first day of training camp, he’s been like this,” Selanne said. “He reminds of (Jean-Sebastien) Giguere because he is never out of the play.”
With a new two-year extension in his pocket and his play and professional attitude continuing to grow, there is a good chance Fasth will able to avoid what happened to both Carey and Lacher.
Fasth looks like he is here to stay.