No Stanley Cup victor ever reached hockey's pinnacle without a steadfast goaltender between the pipes, the kind that acts as an impregnable barrier even in times of great distress, weak defense or a long scoring drought.
That is to say, great goaltending can cover a multitude of sins and propel a hockey team to a long and profitable postseason run.
Goaltending, the last line of defense, is so much more than that—it can make the spectacular save seem routine, reverse a team's fortunes and even provide hope in the face of the fiercest opponent.
The most recent example came during Jaroslav Halak's incredible 2010 playoff performance, posting a 2.55 goals against average and .923 save percentage during the Canadiens' improbable run to the Eastern Conference Finals as an eight seed—the last team invited to the dance.
Both Washington and Pittsburgh, the No. 1 and No. 4 seeds respectively that season, and two high octane offenses, were thwarted by Halak before the Canadiens finally fell victim to the Philadelphia Flyers—just one step short of a Stanley Cup berth. Thus proving one important truth about the NHL playoffs—a great goaltender can rise up and steal a series from any opponent.
Here is a list of this year's mostly likely candidates to steal a series win for their team.