NHL Playoffs 2012: Ranking the Remaining Goalies
The NHL goalie is one of the toughest positions in sports, and it will only become tougher as the Stanley Cup playoffs continue. Much of a team's success relies on its goaltender's ability to stop the puck, but thankfully for the teams who remain, these eight netminders are some of the best in the game.
1. Henrik Lundqvist
The only goalie who’s a Hart Trophy finalist this season, Lundqvist is simply the best at his position. The Swedish goaltender has never had fewer than 30 wins or a GAA higher than 2.43 in his seven seasons in the league. The only knock against Lundqvist is that he’s played poorly against the Capitals in his career, but he’s one goalie you shouldn’t bet against.
2. Pekka Rinne
Rinne is one of the main reasons Nashville has been able to make the playoffs year in and year out despite working with one of the lowest budgets in the league. Rinne led the NHL in wins this year with 43 and tied Jonas Hiller for the most games played. Very few teams rely on their goalies as much as Nashville does, who is without a go-to goal scorer on its roster.
3. Jonathan Quick
Despite being 29th in the league in goals, the Kings were still able to reach the postseason because of the incredible season Quick had for them. The 26-year-old netminder led the league in shutouts and is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy this year. He continued his great play in the first round, with a 1.59 GAA and .953 save percentage.
4. Brian Elliott
Going into this season, people expected very little from the goalie who struggled so much last year with the Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche. However, Elliott had by far his most impressive season in the league with the St. Louis Blues this year, leading the NHL in save percentage and GAA. He has continued his excellence in the playoffs, posting the second-highest GAA and fourth-highest save percentage.
5. Mike Smith
No one expected much from the Phoenix Coyotes this season, but thanks to dominant play by Smith, they were able to win their first playoff series since moving to Arizona. Smith was a surprise this season, posting the highest save percentage and lowest GAA of his career. He has stepped up his game even higher in the playoffs, posting a .950 save percentage against Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and the rest of the Chicago Blackhawks.
6. Martin Brodeur
Brodeur clearly isn’t playing like he's the same goalie who led Team Canada to a gold medal in 2002 and the Devils to a Stanley Cup the following year. However, as he showed in the first-round series against the Panthers, he’s still one of the elite goalies in the league. Although the Panthers aren’t the most offensively-gifted team in the league, Brodeur played very well against them, posting a .922 save percentage and 2.06 GAA.
7. Braden Holtby
Although Holtby was the main reason the Capitals were able to upset the Bruins, he is still only 22 and is very inexperienced. He only played seven games for the Capitals in the regular season, and although he always posts big numbers when he plays, it’s far too early to call him the real deal.
8. Ilya Bryzgalov
In prior seasons, Bryzgalov has been a dominant goalie, but he was just never able to find his groove this season. He managed only a .909 save percentage during the regular season, and although he played against a very talented Penguins team in the first round, his 3.89 GAA and .870 save percentage made him one of the worst goalies in the playoffs.