NHL Begins Its Annual Best Goalie Tournament

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The National Hockey League started its annual Best Goalie Tournament on Wednesday night. The tournament will run for the next eight weeks and the best goalie and his team will be given the Stanley Cup.

The most pressure in this year's Best Goalie Tournament is on Washington Capitals left wing Alexander Ovechkin, who so far in his career has been unsuccessful in playing with the hottest goalie in the NHL from mid-April through early June.

Ovechkin says this is the year he intends to play with the best goalie.

"Ultimately it's not on me. It's on the goalie to win the Stanley Cup," he said. "But I'm going to do as much as I can to help by yelling out things like 'Hey! Look out! That guy over there is shooting!' and 'Great save! You're playing really well!'"

Commissioner Gary Bettman says the Best Goalie Tournament gives fans a break from the format of the regular season, which rewards the best and most skilled teams.

"Our season starts in October. We play 82 games," said Bettman. "By April it's time for something new. It's goalie season. The other guys are just there to skate around and look despondent when their goals are robbed by incredible saves."

While Ovechkin's Capitals have the top seed in the Eastern Conference and the Vancouver Canucks dominated the whole NHL all season out of the West, it is presumed that an unknown goalie from a mediocre playoff team in a small market will win the Stanley Cup.

"It's pretty likely that the Phoenix Coyotes' No. 1 goalie will get hurt and they'll be forced to play their backup, Jason LaBarbera," said NBC hockey analyst Brian Engblom. "And then, out of nowhere, this LaBarbera guy will get incredibly hot and the Coyotes will win the Stanley Cup and the Finals will lose in the ratings to lockout coverage on the NFL Network. It's that sort of history and tradition that makes the Best Goalie Tournament so great."


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