Alex Stalock has faced some serious adversity throughout his NHL career, most notably missing significant time a few years ago because of myocarditis that threatened his playing career. Earlier in the season, he was also sidelined with a concussion and oculomotor dysfunction that probably made him do some reflecting.
When healthy though, Stalock has legitimately been one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, and he showed why again on Monday after stopping all 35 shots in a 5-0 win over the Ottawa Senators at the United Center for his second shutout of the season. He saved a ridiculous 3.08 goals above expected, per Natural Stat Trick.
"Every time he comes in, he brings so much energy for our team," said Seth Jones, who had two goals in the win and extended his goal streak to three games. "He’s vocal, whether it’s on the ice or between periods in here in the dressing room. Just a fun guy to play in front of. He brings the energy and enthusiasm every night."
Stalock upped his save percentage to .921, which ranks No. 5 among goaltenders with at least 15 appearances. He also has a quality start in 10 of 14 starts this season for a quality start percentage of .714, which ranks No. 3 among netminders with at least 10 starts. The other two ahead of him? Linus Ullmark at .895 and Filip Gustavsson at .778, per Hockey Reference.
(A quality start is defined as a game where a goaltender finishes with a save percentage that's above the league average or at least an .885 save percentage in games with 20 or fewer shots).
Stalock has been excellent. But he's not surprising himself with his play.
"I hope not," Stalock said. "I hope that's not the case. I try to play as confident as I can. The last couple years have been kind of a mess health-wise, but I feel in good shape, back to physically able to perform at the level I want to, and just having fun."
Given all he's been through, Stalock said he "absolutely" appreciates moments like Monday even more. He was named the No. 1 star of the game, and deservedly so.
"You never know when your last game is going to be," Stalock said. "You don't realize it when you're a young pro and you think you have so much time, but you get older and you've been with veterans before and you've seen their careers wind down, and you still talk to them and stay in touch. You can't take any day for granted at this point."