Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom finished second in Vezina Trophy voting last season after leading the team to a division title with a 37-15-9 record, 2.22 goals against average, .922 save percentage and a league-best nine shutouts.
Even though he struggled in the second-round loss to the Edmonton Oilers, he was expected to be among the top goaltenders again this season.
But his confidence appears to be shot after Thursday night’s 2-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens in which he allowed a goal 13 seconds into the game on a bad gamble. He slid way out to try to prevent Sean Monahan from reaching a loose puck, but the puck went to Juraj Slafkovsky, who scored into the open net.
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‘I think everyone saw what happened, and it’s not a good play,’ he told reporters after the game.
Markstrom later slashed at Josh Anderson in the third period, starting a scrum that left the Flames short-handed. Montreal’s Cole Caufield scored the game-winner on the power play.
‘I just suck at hockey right now,’ Markstrom said.
He isn’t the only 2021-22 Vezina finalist being hard on himself this season.
‘The goalie played a (expletive) game again,’ last year’s winner, Igor Shesterkin, said after the New York Rangers’ 5-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils this week. ‘I’m ashamed.’
Markstrom sits with a 8-6-2 record, 2.97 goals-against average and .889 save percentage. He says he knows he needs to be better.
‘Work harder,’ he said. ‘Work harder. Stop more pucks.’