Pascal's pop procures pile of pucks

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:13 AM ET

Jerard Leclaire's Montreal mailbox is being stuffed with vulcanized rubber these days.

Jerard, father of Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Pascal Leclaire, receives a puck from each of his son's shutouts. Pascal has four shutouts in his six starts this season.

"It's silly for me to keep (the pucks)," Pascal said. "(Collecting things) is more old people's stuff."

"Silly" is a good term to describe Pascal Leclaire's opening month of the season. He owns a 1.34 goals-against average, a .950 save percentage, and is just one shutout shy of the team record of five set by Marc Denis in 2003-04.

Leclaire's sizzling start is a prime example of how topsy-turvy the goaltending stats around the league are.

Entering play yesterday, Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins (1.20) and Leclaire owned the top two goals-against averages in the NHL.

Leclaire had just 59 NHL starts and one shutout before this season. He has suffered through a variety of leg injuries including season-ending knee surgery a year ago.

As for Thomas, he was supposed to be the backup to off-season acquisition Manny Fernandez, but has been spectacular thus far.

Meanwhile, the Big Three -- Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo and Miikka Kiprusoff -- are far down the goals-against average rankings. Luongo (3.01) is 24th, Kiprusoff (3.16) is 26th and Brodeur (3.51) is 28th.

Rankings are based on goalies who had played in at least four games as of yesterday.

THE HIGHLIGHT REEL

Hockey often is shunned on ESPN, but the sport has copped Highlight of The Night honours twice in the past eight days.

On Oct. 19, Chicago Blackhawks rookie Jonathan Toews turned a number of Colorado Avalanche defenders inside out as part of an amazing individual effort that resulted in a goal.

It was Rick Nash's turn on Thursday. With the puck coming directly off the backboards, Nash completed, in the words of one Columbus reporter, a backhand-switch-to-forehand-between-the-legs-wrister-roofjob that cleared St. Louis Blues goalie Hannu Toivonen and nestled under the crossbar.

"You practise it (but) you never think you'll use it in a game," said Nash, adding that it "came natural."

Said astonished teammate Michael Peca: "I've only done that in street hockey, or when there is a six-year-old in goal."

CROSS-CHECKS

Toews, teammate Patrick Kane, the Edmonton Oilers' Sam Gagner and the Bruins' Milan Lucic are all teenaged rookies who are not expected to be returned to their junior teams. Just another example of the banner crop of freshmen in the league this year ... Entrepreneur Boots Del Baggio, who has shown interest in purchasing the Nashville Predators, recently took the team, coaches and general manager David Poile out to dinner in San Jose, then held a reception for the team after its game against the Sharks. Coincidence? We think not.


Videos

Photos