Goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic racked up a shutout for the Penguins on Sunday, beating defending Stanley Cup champs Las Vegas 3-0 at PPG Paints Arena.
Nedeljkovic made 38 saves. He was crisp and efficient. At the top of his crease.
Then, just hours after the Browns beat the Steelers, the Cleveland native wore a Myles Garrett jersey to address the media.
I like Nedeljkovic’s style.
Tristan Jarry started at Carolina on Saturday. He made 30 saves. Allowed three goals. Jarry played OK.
I’m not saying Nedeljkovic should be the Penguins’ No. 1 goalie.
But he should start on Wednesday at home against the New York Rangers. Ride the hot hand.
Jarry needs pushed. Casey DeSmith, last season's backup, couldn’t do that.
Nedeljkovic can. That’s why the Penguins got him.
Nedeljkovic’s rookie year in 2020-21 with Carolina was better than any season Jarry has ever had: 1.90 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage.
Jarry has never won a playoff series. He rarely steals games. He goes walkabout for the odd bad goal, sometimes the occasional bad game. His form and focus are inconsistent.
Jarry was the No. 1 goalie last season when the Penguins missed the playoffs.
The Penguins haven’t won a post-season series since 2018.
Decisions should no longer be made by rote.
No commitment to goaltending should be more than game-by-game.
Start Nedeljkovic vs. the Rangers.
Jarry will get back in the net. He leads the NHL in shutouts with three.
But to return to the playoffs, everything must be maximized. Not least goaltending.
Jarry got a five-year contract worth $26.875 million this past off-season.
That doesn’t mean he’s written in stone as the No. 1 goalie. Jarry gets paid that no matter what.
Once the ink dries, winning is the only thing that justifies.