Columbus, Ohio (WGR 550) – Things haven’t gone real well for Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen since being recalled from the Rochester Americans on Nov. 17. The 23-year-old is 2-2-1 this season with a 3.98 goals-against average and an .863 save percentage.
After having a tough first period on Sunday against the San Jose Sharks, Luukkonen seemed much more comfortable in the final 40 minutes of play, giving up just one goal.
Luukkonen has only played 18 games in the NHL, yet, some are already calling him a bust and not leaving any room to the belief he still could develop.
Keep in mind, it took Linus Ullmark more than six years of development before he was finally a No. 1 goalie in the NHL.
Luukkonen lost games to the Tampa Bay Lightning last Monday and the Colorado Avalanche this past Thursday. Those two teams have won the last three Stanley Cups, and he says he took a lot out of those games.
"When we play against teams like Tampa Bay, Colorado, these top teams with the best players of the game, I feel like just how well they score, how well they use their chances and how much time, how little you have to do wrong for them to get a scoring chance. I think that's a lot of learning for me," said Luukkonen. "How fast these guys play, how well they use their scoring chances. So I think it's been a good learning experience on that side too."
Luukkonen spends a lot of time going over film with goaltender coach Mike Bales, and it isn’t all just what’s going wrong. There’s a lot of positive reinforcement that goes on too.
"The goals are most of the things that we look at, but I think also, for us, it's overall how the game looks," Luukkonen said. "How are you reading the play? How are you reading when the situation is happening on their own? Are you reading it right? Are you too far out of the crease already? So there's a lot that goes into that, and we kind of try to look the game as the whole picture to how confident you look, how well you're reading the game overall, too."
Luukkonen says his confidence is still good, and he’s excited for his next game. He feels his overall game has been there.
Dylan Cozens was named the NHL’s "Second Star of the Week" on Monday. The team was off then, so on Tuesday, Cozens said it was nice to be recognized.
"It’s pretty cool, I guess," said Cozens after practice. "Lots of credit to my teammates, because I couldn’t have got that without them. So it’s all them."
Girgensons – Krebs – Okposo
Mittelstadt – Jost – Olofsson
Peterka – Cozens – Quinn
Skinner – Thompson – Tuch
Power – Jokiharju
Samuelsson – Dahlin
Bryson – Fitzgerald