<
>

Lamothe's patience pays off

Perseverance is a wonderful trait.

I saw it firsthand on Monday in Edmonton, where Detroit Red Wings goalie Marc Lamothe played in just his third NHL game just days before his 30th birthday. When you are chasing a dream and loving the game, you can't quit, because you never know what is around the corner. Lamothe's family had flown in from Ontario for the game, but didn't know he was starting. The surprise got even better when he was selected as the No. 2 star in the 1-1 tie with the Oilers, after making 29 terrific saves.

Speaking of the Wings, GM Ken Holland had a chance to sit down with Rich Winter, Dominik Hasek's agent, to discuss details of the remaining portion of his contract. Obviously, the Wings are looking for a bit of relief in return. It's a difficult situation for Holland. He's a loyal GM and, while business is business, he knows there wouldn't have been a parade in 2002 if not for the Hasek's play.

Hasek has returned to the Czech Republic for the next week or so. He's aware of the fact that he may be perceived as a negative presence by hanging around the room and will take himself away from that environment if players and management are upset by it.

Curtis Joseph was on skates Monday for the first time since turning his right ankle over against the Sharks on Feb. 11. He looked good working with goalie coach Jim Bedard in Edmonton. Although there is no definitive timetable, Cujo could be ready in 7-10 days. He's had trouble with that ankle before, so they key will be monitoring it closely so it doesn't get worse. He is also breaking in a new set of white pads and is getting rid of the black and red ones that he originally borrowed from Lamothe during Lamothe's first stint in the NHL.

How about the 0-0 game on Long Island on Tuesday night? Rick DiPietro had 28 saves and Felix Potvin had 33 as both were stars of the game, despite the bad ice.

It was nice to see Philadelphia Flyers goalie Sean Burke come up big on Tuesday with 27 saves in a 3-1 over the Chicago Blackhawks. Flyers fans have to understand it's important to support the guy between the pipes. It was also the always emotional "first game against former team" for Alexei Zhamnov. All he did was respond with a goal and was named the second star.

The Blackhawks have named Stephane Waite, the brother of their 1988 first-round pick Jimmy Waite, as their goalie coach, at least temporarily. Waite worked with Jocelyn Thibault during the offseason, and the Hawks needed someone to help the development of their young goalies. Vladislav Tretiak will remain a consultant with the team, but he isn't able to be on hand consistently enough as he was recently named a senator in his native Russia.

Now it's time for the top goalies since the All-Star break. Keep in mind this is likely the last time you'll see goalies from non-playoff teams on the list, as we'll be focusing on ones who are responding to the pressure of the playoff race from here on out.

So let's get to this week's top five:



Darren Pang, a former goaltender with the Chicago Blackhawks, is a hockey analyst for ESPN. His goalie rankings appear every other week in Net Effect.