Sunday, September 30, 2007

Battle of Backups won by Patzold

At least for now, it appears that 24-year-old Kazakh goaltender Dimitri Patzold will serve as Evgeni Nabokov's backup. In a press release, the San Jose Sharks announced the demotion of Patzold's primary competitor for the backup position, Thomas Greiss, to the AHL along with forwards Graham Mink and Lukas Kaspar. Greiss had the flashier preseason numbers, with a 1.45 goals-against average compared to Patzold's rather ugly 3.50, but as noted in an earlier post, and reinforced by Doug Wilson's comment that the move "allows Thomas to play consistently in Worcester," the odds were against Greiss from the start. Since the Sharks' brass largely perceives the German netminder as San Jose's "goalie of the future," and since starting 85% of the games in Worcester would be far more conducive to Greiss' development than opening bench doors for the majority of the season, it was essentially determined that Greiss would spend most of the season in Massachusetts.

However, coach Ron Wilson stated that the occupier of the backup goaltending position will be continually evaluated as the season progresses, meaning that Greiss could potentially be stopping pucks in San Jose somewhere along the line this campaign. But with starter Evgeni Nabokov tabbed to play upwards of 65 games, one wonders if the role of backing up Nabby is significant enough for this level of controversy and convolution.

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