2010 NHL playoffs: Ranking the goaltenders

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As we head into the 2010 NHL Playoffs, every series we break down
always comes back to one thing: goaltending. Even the most offensively
gifted team in the playoffs needs exceptional goaltending to get through
four rounds of hockey; just ask the Pittsburgh Penguins how important
Marc-Andre Fleury was to them last season.

It’s no fluke that the
top nine goaltenders in the NHL are all in the playoffs.

With that in mind, here are our rankings of the starting goaltenders
for each team headed into the playoffs. Well, projected starters at
least. Joel Quenneville may pull a fast one on us.

Note: Rankings based on overall experience, past playoff
performance and this season’s performance.

#1 – Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres

2009-10
season: 41-18-8, 5 SO, 2.22 GAA, .929 SV%

Playoff
Experience: 20-14-0, 1 SO, 2.22 GAA, .922 SV%

The NHL’s best
goaltender heading into the playoffs, and has proven already he is
capable of carrying a team on his shoulders when it counts the most.

#2 – Ilya Bryzgalov, Phoenix Coyotes

2009-10
season: 42-20-6, 8 SO, 2.29 GAA, .920 SV%

Playoff
Experience: 9-5-0, 3 SO, 2.25 GAA, 9.22 SV%

Has been a rock
for the Coyotes for three seasons, and now gets the chance to leading
them into the playoffs. Will get major consideration for the Vezina,
after a tremendous season between the pipes.

#3 – Martin
Brodeur, New Jersey Devils

2009-10 season: 45-25-6, 9
SO, 2.24 GAA, .916 SV%

Playoff Experience: 98-78-0, 23 SO,
1.98 GAA, .920 SV%

Arguably the best goaltender in the history
of the NHL is back in the playoffs, and it’s surprising to not think
he’d be at the top of this list. Despite the Devils winning the Jennings
trophy, it feels as if this may be the season the great one starts to
falter.

#4 – Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks

2009-10
season: 40-22-4, 4 SO, 2.57 GAA, .913 SV%

Playoff
Experience: 11-11-0, 1 SO, 2.09 GAA, .930 SV%

Had a bit of an
inconsistent season this year and — for him — some disappointing
numbers. He’s still one of the best goaltenders in the NHL when he’s on
top of his game; can he carry that over to the playoffs?

#5 – Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose Sharks

2009-10
season: 44-16-10, 3 SO 2.43 GAA, .922 SV%

Playoff
Experience: 32-31-0, 6 SO, 2.23 GAA, .915 SV%

Nabokov had one
hell of a season with the Sharks, but until he and the team prove they
carry over the success to the playoffs he won’t be any higher on this
list. Fair? Probably not.

#6 – Craig Anderson, Colorado
Avalanche

2009-10 season: 38-25-7, 2.64 GAA, .917 SV%

Playoff
Experience: None

Could this be a bit high for Anderson? Sure.
But he’s the reason the Avalanche are even in the playoffs this season,
and he’ll be the reason why the succeed — or fail.

#7 –
Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins

2009-10 season:
37-21-6,
1 SO, 2.65 GAA, .905 SV%

Playoff Experience: 31-18-0, 3 SO, 2.45
GAA, .908 SV%

The defending Stanley Cup winning goaltender should
be a bit higher, most likely, except Fleury hasn’t exactly wowed me this
season. Ha and the Penguins have been inconsistent late in the season,
and have to show me they can flip the ‘on switch’.

#8 – Jose
Theodore, Washington Capitals

2009-10 season: 30-7-7, 1
SO, 2.81 GAA, .911 SV%

Playoff Experience: 19-27-0, 1 SO,
2.79 GAA, .912 SV%

He’s had a great season so far, but has
struggled mightily in the playoffs. It’s expected he’ll get the nod this
year for the postseason, but I’m guessing he has a very short leash.
Caps fans will riot if this team loses to the Canadiens.

#9 through #16 after the jump.

#9 – Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings

2009-10 season: 37-15-10.3 SO, 2.26 GAA, .924 SV%

Playoff
Experience: None

It’s amazing to think that he is this high,
after just one season and no experience. But he’s calm, collected and
cold as ice between the pipes.

#10 – Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

2009-10
season: 32-16-5. 7 SO, 2.53 GAA, .911 SV%

Playoff
Experience: None

Rinne has had a solid season with the
Predators, but needs to prove himself in the playoffs. He’s been too
consistent the past two season to just write him off, and it’s exciting
to get to see what he can do in the postseason.

#11 – Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

2009-10
season: 22-12-5, 5 SO, 1.97 GAA, .931 SV%

Playoff
Experience: None

A very small sample size, but some incredible
numbers and success this season. Can he carry an undermanned Boston
team past the first round, though?

#12 – Jaroslav Halak, Montreal Canadiens

2009-10 season:
26-13-5, 5 SO, 2.40 GAA, .924 SV%

Playoff Experience: 0-1-0, 0 SO,
1.85 GAA, .906 SV%

A lack of experience keeps him low on the
list, but that’s not to say he doesn’t have the chance to do something
special in the postseason. He’ll have to be otherworldly, however,
against the Capitals

#13 – Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

2009-10
season: 39-34-7, 4 SO, 2.54 GAA, .907 SV%

Playoff
Experience: None

I’m worried that Quick won’t have the energy
left to continue to carry the Kings after the season, as he’s was relied
heavily upon during the season just to get to the playoffs.

#14
– Anti Niemi, Chicago Blackhawks

2009-10 season:
26-7-4, 7 SO, 2.25 GAA, .912 SV%

Playoff Experience: None

Prove
to me you can get it done in the playoffs.

#15 – Brian
Elliott, Ottawa Senators

2009-10 season: 29-18-4, 5 SO,
2.57 GAA, .909 SV %

Playoff Experience: None

He’s
been good down the stretch, and he’ll have to be even better now that
it really counts.

#16 – Brian Boucher, Philadelphia Flyers

2009-10 season:
9-18-3, 1 SO, 2.76 GAA, .899 SV%

Playoff Experience:
11-8-0, 1 SO, 2.06 GAA, .916 SV%

He has not started a playoff
game since 2002, and has not started more than twice in a playoff series
since 2000. Can he continue to work his magic for the Flyers?

Sounds like Blues will be more aggressive

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 06:  Head coach Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues watches from the bench during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on January 6, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Blues defeated the Coyotes 6-0.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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With their former captain now a member of the Boston Bruins and their coach on year-to-year deals, it’s appropriate to say that the St. Louis Blues are in a period of transitions.

It’s also a convenient choice of words, as it sounds like the Blues are going to change the way they transition on the ice.

That’s the indication given by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and players like Chris Porter approve.

“The play in the neutral zone will fit this team great with the speed and the size that they already have in place,” Porter said. “I don’t think it’s a huge adjustment for the guys, I think it’s just a little tweak here or there.”

Perhaps hiring Mike Yeo had something to do with taking a more modern approach?

Either way, getting more aggressive makes a lot of sense for the Blues, at least on paper.

With David Backes and Troy Brouwer out of town, younger and speedier players get to take more of a role. Some Blues fans will probably view this tweak – big or small – as a long time coming.

Of course, there’s a give-and-take when it comes to situations like these, and becoming more attack-minded sure makes retaining Kevin Shattenkirk that much more important. The underrated blueliner still expects to be moved despite being named an alternate captain, yet you wonder if these changes might prompt GM Doug Armstrong to try to pull some strings to keep him around.

(Giving Alexander Steen a contract extension means that much less room for the likes of Shattenkirk.)

Even if the Blues eventually need to part ways with Shattenkirk, there are some other nice assets who can use this change as a catalyst to push this team up another level.

In an ideal scenario, the Blues would enjoy those improvements and keep Shattenkirk to reap those rewards.

Update: Clarke MacArthur suffers concussion

BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 8: Clarke MacArthur #16 of the Ottawa Senators skates with the puck during the game against the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center on October 8, 2015 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Brenner/ Getty Images)
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Update: As many feared, Clarke MacArthur suffered a concussion. The Ottawa Senators announced that he will be “evaluated daily.”

***

Rough news for the Ottawa Senators on Sunday: forward Clarke MacArthur needed help off the ice following a big hit during a team scrimmage.

The hit was delivered by Patrick Sieloff, prompting an immediate response from Bobby Ryan, according to The Hockey News’ Murray Pam.

MacArthur has been hoping to return to NHL action after some serious concussion issues, so this is a troubling situation. More than a few people wonder if this might end his career.

Update: Here’s a GIF of the hit.

Robin Lehner certainly has swagger

ANAHEIM, CA - FEBRUARY 24:  Robin Lehner #40 of the Buffalo Sabres stretches during the first period of a game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on February 24, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Robin Lehner is a big goalie, and barring possible language barrier issues, sure seems to have a pretty big personality.

That at least seems to be the case with the Buffalo Sabres’ top guy, who provided the Buffalo News’ John Vogl with a great quote:

“There’s a lot of pressure on me, and that’s fine. … I know I’m a good goaltender,” Lehner said.

Hey now.

As much as the Sabres feel like a work in progress, acquiring Lehner was one of GM Tim Murray’s boldest moves. Murray was able to observe Lehner in Ottawa, and despite some struggles, the big Swede (6-foot-5, 240 lbs.) was sneaky-good in 2015-16.

Twenty-one games serves as a limited sample size, yet a .924 save percentage seems quite promising. His 107 career regular season games are spread over six seasons, so to some extent, the 25-year-old is still something of an unknown entity.

If nothing else, it looks like he could provide some Bryzgalovian entertainment.

Back in March, Ben Scrivens admitted he was happy to avoid a fight with a guy he called a “bit of a psycho.”

Sounds like a guy to watch.

Team Europe is happy to play underdog role

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TORONTO (AP) When the World Cup of Hockey started, Team Europe was not picked as a team to beat.

In fact, the unique team made up of eight nations outside of the continent’s traditional hockey powers was expected to be out of the best-on-best tournament.

Team Europe had other plans.

The blended group of players opened the tournament with a 3-0 win over the U.S. and then beat the Czech Republic in overtime to seal a spot in the semifinals before losing to Canada.

“I know nobody really expected us to be here right now,” Danish and Detroit Red Wings forward Frans Nielsen said Saturday. “But when you look in the room and go over the team, there’s not a lot of players better than (Anze) Kopitar in this tournament. We got (Marian) Hossa. We got some good guys on the backend and good goaltending.”

The Europeans will face Sweden on Sunday for a spot in the best-of-three finals against the winner of Saturday night’s Canada-Russia game.

When Team Europe players have faced Sweden for their countries – Switzerland, Denmark, Slovakia, France, Germany, Slovenia, Austria and Norway – in previous, they didn’t have a legitimate chance to win.

They do now.

A veteran group of skaters and a star in Kopitar along with Slovak and New York Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak give them a shot on any sheet of ice.

“He’s the kind of goalie that almost every night, he gives you a chance to win,” said Nielsen, who played with Halak in New York. “And, he’ll make that save when you need it.”

Team Europe coach Ralph Krueger said he’ll likely save his rah-rah speeches for another team because this one simply doesn’t need it.

Krueger began to sense something special was in store for Team Europe nearly a year ago when several candidates to be on the team met when Boston and the New York Islanders played. When the entire group gathered nearly three weeks ago in Quebec, Krueger got even more excited about the natural chemistry the team already had from their shared experiences.

“We didn’t have to do a lot of extra team-building,” Krueger said. “It just happened with a combination of leadership and personalities and character and will – of pure will – of these eight nations that are forever underdogs, forever going home when the final four is staged, forever watching other teams play in finals of best of best. That opportunity has fueled the fire that taken us here.”

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