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Tough start between the pipes
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - For three of the NHL's best goaltenders - Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick and Mike Smith - the 2013 opening weekend turned into a horror show from which they will have to quickly turn the page and try to regain their form from last season.

Lundqvist, the 2011-12 Vezina Trophy winner, opened the season with two consecutive losses (to Boston and Pittsburgh), yielding seven goals on just 52 shots. That's a far cry from last season when the New York Rangers' stud posted a 39-18-5 record with a 1.97 goals against average (GAA) and a .930 save percentage.

Quick, last season's Conn Smythe Trophy winner, stumbled out of the gate as well, letting five goals past him, including three in the first period, on the day the Los Angeles Kings received their championship rings.

Meanwhile, Smith who was coming off a very successful season in which he went 38-18-10 with a stellar 2.21 GAA and a .930 save percentage, gave up a league- worst 10 goals in two Phoenix Coyotes contests.

What do these three goaltenders have in common?

None of them managed to get any ice time while the players were locked out.

Lundqvist had been talking to Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League, but never could come to an agreement. The closest he came to playing in a game was the Operation Hat Trick charity event.

Quick spent the offseason recovering from back surgery. He was supposed to play for Manchester of the AHL to help in his recovery, but lockout rules spoiled those plans.

Smith, in final year of his deal with Phoenix, thought about Europe, but never did anything about it.

For fantasy owners who spent a high draft pick on a star goaltender, this isn't what they wanted to see from their "big guns" right out of the gate.

The three weren't the only goaltenders to stumble out of the gate, however, just the most notable. Checking the bottom of the leaderboard, we find Braden Holtby (6.00 GAA), Jimmy Howard (7.32), Cory Schneider (11.11) and Cam Ward (12.00). Only Schneider played a "real" game during the lockout.

It's certainly far too early to panic, but it is worth noting the slow start by some of the league's biggest names. Hopefully, with a condensed season, they will get enough work to round into playing form a little faster than in previous seasons.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at

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