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Wilderness Walk: Stay Locked

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It was a very good start to the pre-season by Minnesota’s projected backup goaltender last night.

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NHL: Minnesota Wild at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota is desperate for a solid, reliable backup to spell Devan Dubnyk and give the Wild a legitimate chance to win on The Doob’s nights off. After his short but very positive stint with the big club last season, Alex Stalock was more or less anointed the team’s backup coming into this season, unless things should end up going very badly for him in Training Camp and exceptionally well for newcomer Niklas Svedberg. Stalock got out to a great start last night, stopping all 21 shots faced in a shutout of Winnipeg’s B squad.

On the smaller end of the goaltender spectrum at 6’0”, Stalock plays like the small goaltenders of the 90’s, which is super fun to watch, but also a little scary. Where a guy like Dubnyk is able to stand deep in his crease and take away plenty of net from the shooter’s eyes, Stalock has to play a good two feet farther out to take the same amount of net away. When goalmouth passes happen, Stalock has to travel a lot farther than a guy like Dubnyk, which is why he looks like he’s really scrambling when things break down in front of him. He makes up for this by being agile and very athletic, and so far the need to travel has not had a negative impact on his play. Instead, he continues to surprise and impress and quiet those critics (like me) who said it was a huge mistake to rely on him as the backup. I genuinely hope that my opinion about Minnesota’s goaltending plan coming into this season was dead wrong, and that Stalock will permanently shut me up on the subject as the season goes on. He’s generally looked really good in a Minnesota Wild jersey.

Speaking of Minnesota Wild jerseys, the new greens, which underwhelmed in their initial unveiling, actually looked really stinkin’ good on the ice.

Spruce Bruce Springsteen is taking us through today’s Walk.

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