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
season: 41-18-8, 5 SO, 2.22 GAA, .929 SV%
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
season: 42-20-6, 8 SO, 2.29 GAA, .920 SV%
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
#4 – Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks
season: 40-22-4, 4 SO, 2.57 GAA, .913 SV%
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
season: 44-16-10, 3 SO 2.43 GAA, .922 SV%
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
2009-10 season: 38-25-7, 2.64 GAA, .917 SV%
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.
Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins
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%
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
season: 32-16-5. 7 SO, 2.53 GAA, .911 SV%
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
season: 22-12-5, 5 SO, 1.97 GAA, .931 SV%
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
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
season: 39-34-7, 4 SO, 2.54 GAA, .907 SV%
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.
– Anti Niemi, Chicago Blackhawks
26-7-4, 7 SO, 2.25 GAA, .912 SV%
Playoff Experience: None
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
been good down the stretch, and he’ll have to be even better now that
it really counts.
#16 – Brian Boucher, Philadelphia Flyers
9-18-3, 1 SO, 2.76 GAA, .899 SV%
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?