30 Greatest Playoff Goalies in NHL History

Tab BamfordSenior Writer IApril 26, 2012

30 Greatest Playoff Goalies in NHL History

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    This year's postseason has already seen some incredible performances between the pipes from Pekka Rinne, Mike Smith and others. Maybe not so much from Ilya Bryzgalov and Marc-Andre Fleury, but in many of the other series, goalies have been the centerpiece.

    Throughout history, there have been a number of goalies who have carried their team to the Stanley Cup. Some have been good enough to carry a team further than they should have gone, and been rewarded for their efforts. In total, a goalie has been awarded the Conn Smythe 15 times, four of which went to the netminder on the second place team.

    Patrick Roy won the Conn Smythe three times and Bernie Parent won it twice. Other goalies, like Terry Sawchuk, Jacques Plante, Ken Dryden and Eddie Belfour, were good enough on more than one occasion.

    For this list, we limited each goalie to their best postseason performance. So only one appearance from these great Hall of Famers and surprising stars who had a stretch of brilliance one spring.

30. Cam Ward, 2006

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    The 2006 Conn Smythe winner, Ward went 15-8 with two shutouts and a stunning .920 save percentage as the 'Canes made a magical run.

29. Antti Niemi, 2010

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    Niemi, who went undrafted and didn't even have the top spot on Chicago's depth chart locked-up until late in the regular season, went 16-6 with two shutouts, as the Blackhawks captured their first Cup in 49 years.

28. Roger Crozier, 1966

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    Crozier played for a surprising champion in Detroit and was the first goalie to be awarded the Conn Smythe. He was 6-5 in that postseason with one shutout but was voted the postseason's most valuable player in spite of the Wings losing in the Finals.

    He was the first player to win the Conn Smythe in a losing effort.

27. Kirk McLean, 1994

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    McLean was a great Vancouver goalie who didn't quite do enough to win the Cup (sound familiar?). In 1994, he went 15-9 with four shutouts and a .918 save percentage, but the Canucks lost in Game 7 of the finals (sound familiar?).

26. Chris Osgood, 1998

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    Osgood went 16-6 in 1998 on a Detroit team loaded with Hall of Famers, but he played as well as anyone with two shutouts and a .918 save percentage.

25. Glenn Hall, 1961

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    In 1961, Hall allowed only 26 goals in 12 games, winning the eight required of a champion. He had two shutouts for Chicago that spring before the Conn Smythe was being awarded.

    He won the postseason Most Valuable Player award as a runner-up with St. Louis seven years later.

24. Bill Ranford, 1990

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    In 1990, Ranford led the Gretzky-less Oilers to the Cup and was presented the Conn Smythe Trophy. He was 16-6 with one shutout and a .912 save percentage that spring.

23. Ron Hextall, 1987

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    As a 23-year-old rookie, Hextall went 15-11 and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy despite being on the losing end of the finals.

22. Turk Broda, 1949

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    Broda allowed only 15 goals in nine games for Toronto in the 1949 playoffs, winning eight of nine decisions.

21. Bill Durnan, 1944

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    In his first NHL postseason with the Habs, Durnan went 8-1 and allowed only 14 goals in nine games. He had one shutout in the postseason that year.

20. Johnny Bower, 1963

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    In 1963, Bower was incredible for the Leafs. He went 8-2 with two shutouts and allowed only 16 goals in 10 playoff games.

19. Billy Smith, 1982

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    Smith had a few special springs in the early 1980s, but his best came in 1982 when he led the Islanders to their third of four straight Stanley Cups (and yes, he won the Conn Smythe in 1983).

    Smith won 15 of 18 starts in 1982 and had the lowest goals against average of his career.

18. Gerry Cheevers, 1970

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    In 1970, blessed with one of the best teams in the history of the game in front of him, Cheevers went 12-1 on the way to winning the Cup.

17. Gump Worsley, 1968

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    Worsley was undefeated in the 1968 postseason, allowing only 21 goals with one shutout in 12 games with the Habs.

16. Miikka Kiprusoff, 2004

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    Kiprusoff might not have won the Cup in 2004, but it wasn't his fault.

    Five shutouts and a .928 save percentage may have won him the Conn Smythe in any other year in the decade, but the Bolts were too much that year.

15. Mike Vernon, 1997

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    Vernon had a couple good postseason runs that included 16 wins, but his job in 1997 will live in Detroit fans' minds forever.

    He won the Conn Smythe after posting three shutouts and a .927 save percentage while losing only four times between the end of the regular season and this photo being taken.

14. Tim Thomas, 2011

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    Yes, just last spring Thomas posted one of the best postseason save percentages since the NHL started keeping the statistic (.940) with four shutouts and won the 16 required games to lift the Cup. He also (obviously) won the Conn Smythe Trophy last year.

13. Bernie Parent, 1975

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    Only two players have ever won back-to-back Conn Smythe Trophies: Mario Lemieux and Bernie Parent. In 1975, Parent went 10-5 with three shutouts for the Flyers in one of the iconic postseason performances in Flyers history.

12. Ed Belfour, 1999

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    Belfour is another netminder who had some incredible playoff runs in his career, but we'll reserve his "best" for the 1999 playoffs, when he won 16 games.

    He had a .930 save percentage and three shutouts that year, and finished the playoffs with a win.

11. Patrick Roy, 2001

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    Roy had a number of fantastic postseasons, but 2001 may have been his finest.

    He was 16-7 with a .934 save percentage and four shutouts on his way to winning the Cup with Colorado.

10. Mike Richter, 1994

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    He won't pay for dinner in the Big Apple for the rest of his life.

    Richter was fantastic in the 1994 postseason, leading the Rangers back to the Cup. He won the required 16 games against only seven losses, and had four shutouts.

9. Ken Dryden, 1977

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    As part of one of the great teams in NHL history, Dryden was 12-2 with four shutouts and only 22 goals allowed in the other 10 games played during the 1977 postseason run for the Habs.

8. Nikolai Khabibulin, 2004

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    The only thing more awesome than Khabibulin's postseason in 2004 were the awesome NHL radio microphones.

    In all seriousness, "The Bulin Wall" was unreal in 2004, but is often overlooked because of performances in 2002 and 2003 by a few other netminders. He had five shutouts and allowed only 40 goals in 23 playoff games in leading Tampa to the Cup.

7. Dominik Hasek, 2002

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    He dominated the 2002 postseason for Detroit, setting a then-NHL record with six shutouts in a single postseason and allowing only 45 goals in 23 games.

6. Charlie Gardiner, 1934

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    In 1934, Gardiner went 6-1-1 in eight postseason starts with two shutouts. One of the most remarkable games in early Stanley Cup history was the deciding game of that year's Finals, which was won when Mush March broke a 0-0 tie in the second overtime.

    More amazing, Gardiner played the second half of the regular season and playoffs with a series of sicknesses that ended his life just weeks after skating off the ice a champion.

    Gardiner is the last goalie to serve as captain on a Stanley Cup Champion.

5. Jean-Sebastian Giguere, 2003

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    Giguere won the Conn Smythe in spite of his team finishing second in the finals. He was incredible that postseason, chalking up five shutouts and among his 15 wins, but was just barely outplayed by the guy on the other end of the ice and the deeper Devils.

4. Martin Brodeur, 2003

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    In 2003, while Giguere won the Conn Smythe for the losing Ducks, Brodeur set the record for shutouts in a single postseason with seven.

    He went 16-8 that year, allowing only 41 goals in 24 games.

3. Dave Kerr, 1937

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    Kerr was fantastic in the 1937 postseason, allowing only 10 goals in nine games (including four shutouts).

2. Jacques Plante, 1960

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    In 1960, Plante won the required eight games in the minimum number required, posting four shutouts and allowing only 11 goals in the other four games.

1. Terry Sawchuk, 1952

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    How about this for a postseason: eight games, eight wins, four shutouts, five goals against.

    Ridiculous.

    There have been some amazing postseasons from legendary netminders, but none touch what Sawchuk did in 1952.