Midseason NHL Goaltending Report

Scott ZweibelContributor IJanuary 16, 2009

Here we are, lumbering up to the All-Star break with a new regime of goalies as the statistical leaders in the NHL.

For years, we have watched as the same names dominate the ranks. Marty Brodeur (on IR), Roberto Luongo (injury), Miikka Kiprusoff (ranked No. 27 in GAA), Jean-Sebastien Giguere (ranked No. 37), and Marty Turco (ranked No. 40) have all fallen injured or caught the "bad-goal" bug.

In Kipper's defense, he does lead the league in wins, but then again he has started 41 of 43 games for the Flames this season. The new list is highlighted with young kids and "comeback kids," names that were once though to be relegated to backups or call-ups.

All goaltender rankings are based on the formula of:

((Win %) / (Goals Against Average) X (Save Percentage))


On to the Rankings

Sitting at first and second in my goalie rankings is the Bruins tandem of Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez. With a combined goals-against average of 2.02 and a save percentage of .933, these once-discarded goalies are proving themselves worthy.

A close third in the ranking is Steve Mason. The Columbus rookie has grabbed the spotlight from Pascal Leclaire. He has been nothing short of stellar for the offensive-minded Blue Jackets with six shutouts in 26 appearances, a 1.80 GAA, and a lofty .936 save percentage. Look out now, but Mason has set the bar high for the Calder Trophy (sorry Berglund, Versteeg, and Wheeler).

At fourth sits another cast-away netminder, Ty Conklin from the Red Wings. Conklin has amassed 16 wins, a 2.20 goals-against and has outplayed Chris Osgood when given the nod in net.

Coming in fifth place (the only guy you would really expect to see in a top goalie ranking) is Evgeni Nabokov. While the Sharks have been simply devouring the rest of the NHL, the little Russian goalie has put together a respectable 2.46 GAA, .909 save percentage, and 23 wins—all despite an injury stint earlier in the season. Nabby grabbing the fifth spot on the list is mostly on the merit of his overall win percentage.

There has also been a long list of goalies we would normally see performing well, but have not done their part this season. First off, Turco, sitting uncomfortably at 34th in my rankings. Turco has looked lost at times, and currently sports an uncanny 3.17 GAA. He is normally reliable playing the puck, but has given up some ugly goals so far.

The next netminder on the "not list" is JS Giguere. "Giggy" has not been with the program so far this season, his above 3.0 goals-against average, barely .900 save percentage, and spotty play has forced the Ducks to fly with Jonas Hiller more often than not.

In the middle of the road is a laundry list of goalies who just need to step up in order to push their teams deep in the playoffs (or get there at all). Yes, Jose Theodore, I am speaking directly to you.

As a Caps fan, it is thrilling to watch Ovie and the boys put up truck loads of goals on a regular basis. On the flip side, Jose "Three-or-more" has had some difficult games and can turn what would normally be a blowout into a high scoring shootout.

Staying in the Southeast, Cam Ward elevating his game will be the deciding factor in the Hurricanes grabbing a playoff berth. Guys like Antero Niittymaki in Philly, Carey Price in Montreal, and Henrik Lundqvist in New York (Rangers) have the luxury of talent-heavy teams. However, it takes a great goalie to win the Stanley Cup, so these netminders will need to lock down their games for the stretch run.

Other questions lingering about the crease:

  • How effective will Roberto Luongo be after his lengthy injury?
  • Will Marty Brodeur be able to help the Devils this year?
  • Khabibulin and Huet...who grabs the No. 1 spot?
  • Can Marc-Andre Fleury carry the Pens to another Cup final?
  • Who makes a trade to shore up their goaltending at the deadline?

Those answers will shake out soon, and plenty new questions will follow. It will be interesting to see if the young goalies stay atop the rankings, or will a veteran find their way to the top.

As always...enjoy the game!