The goalie is the last line of defense in hockey. He is the difference between a win and a loss. Some goalies are surefire Hall of Famers, while others are downright awful.
In the NHL playoffs, sixteen goalies, and their NHL teams are fighting for the greatest trophy in sports, the Stanley Cup.
Of the 16, only four remain.
This article will rank the sixteen goalies in the NHL playoffs based only on their performance. So if anybody has an issue with this or says their goalie is better than another, then I will just point out their playoff performance.
The way that we will calculate the goalies is through one formula: the Earned Goal Average (EGA), which calculates the total number of goals allowed divided by the length of the series.
The lower the EGA, the better.
To provide an example: Craig Anderson allowed 14 goals in his series, which lasted seven games. This means he allowed two goals per game giving him a 2.00 EGA.
*note: Because two teams used more than one goalie, their stats will be combined and they will be given a combined EGA.
Without further delay...
Penguins fans can defend the former first overall pick all they want, but nothing is going to change.
Despite the fact that he is very experienced in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and despite the ring from when the Penguins defeated the Red Wings, there is no excusing 30 goals allowed in five games, which accounts for Fleury's whopping 5.00 EGA.
That's a full goal behind the second-worst postseason netminder.
In a series in which the winning team scored at least three goals, Fleury's only saving grace was Game 4, in which his team backed him up with a 10-goal aggravated assault on an equally incompetent, yet slightly better netminder, Ilya Bryzgalov.
Speaking of which...
Bryz ended his postseason with 44 goals allowed in 11 games, for an (still bad, but better than Fleury's) EGA of 4.00. The fact that he made it through two postseason rounds is a miracle in and of itself.
In the conference quarterfinals against Pittsburgh, Bryz allowed 26 goals total, a miracle considering Pittsburgh's ten-goal outburst against him in Game 4.
Bryz only allowed 18 more goals in the postseason, but in five games the Flyers were eliminated, gentleman-style, by the New Jersey Devils.
If the Flyers want to compete in any future postseasons, a good idea would be to get rid of the man in the black pads.
That and get a new group of stars.
It's kind of surprising (and a bit refreshing) to know that no goalie in the playoffs has an EGA in the three level. But after the uninspiring performances of Fleury and Bryzgalov there is the average performance of Chicago's Corey Crawford.
Crawford let 17 goals by him in six games, giving him an EGA of 2.83. Suffice to say, his Blackhawks were facing a very effective Phoenix Coyotes team led by goalie Mike Smith.
While nothing can be done to alter Crawford's performance, maybe a little more help from the Kane-and-Toews show would have gotten them farther.
Any season where the San Jose Sharks do not advance past the first round is a disappointment, considering that they are one of the premier teams out west.
Suffice to say, Antti Niemi must be unhappy with both his and his team's performance.
Niemi, who let 14 goals past him in five games, was credited with a 2.80 EGA, which was better than his Chicago counterpart by .03 of a goal. It was a relatively low scoring series for the Blues, Niemi's opposition, but in that series, every goal counted.
Jimmy Howard's third full season in Detroit ended with disappointment as the Red Wings failed to advance to the conference semifinals for the first time since the post-lockout 2005-06 season.
Still, Howard managed a respectable, if still-out-of-the-top ten 2.60 EGA, allowing 13 goals in five games.
You can't fault Jimmy for it, though, as Nashville really came out strong, anchored by their top-notch goalie.
Still, if it wasn't Howard's fault, does that mean that the Red Wing philosophy is starting to fall apart?
The Florida Panthers were one of two teams that used two goalies in the playoffs this year, so I am combining their stats and treating them as one goalie.
Between Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen, the Panthers allowed the New Jersey Devils to score 18 times in seven games, giving the two a combined 2.57 EGA.
Not bad considering that Theodore hasn't been good since his days in Montreal and Clemmensen has been a career backup.
Both served as replacements for the departed Tomas Vokoun, who bolted for NHL Southeast division rival Washington.
Brian Elliott and the St. Louis Blues had a great season, finishing in first place in the Central Division and earning the number-two seed in the playoffs. In the postseason, he allowed 22 goals in nine games, giving him a 2.44 EGA.
Elliott was able to defend the goal with ease against the San Jose Sharks, in a series which was more of a defensive struggle.
However, against the Los Angeles Kings, he had the task of facing Jonathan Quick, who has basically been a brick wall this postseason. Had the Blues not faced the Kings, they might have gone further.
Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider both played this postseason, but unlike Florida where Scott Clemmensen had to replace Jose Theodore due to injury, Schneider replaced Luongo due to the latter's supposed "ineffectiveness."
Combined, the two netminders allowed 12 goals in five games for a 2.40 EGA.
Even though the Canucks played Jonathan Quick and the Kings, I am not giving them a free pass, like I did Brian Elliott. The reason is that Vancouver was a number-one seed, and Luongo was supposed to be the goalie he was last year.
Unfortunately that never happened, and Los Angeles out-defended Vancouver.
Let me begin this slide by apologizing to all those Devils fans and hockey fans in general.
Even if Brodeur is a surefire Hall of Fame candidate, his postseason has been average at best.
Brodeur allowed 28 goals in 12 games in the first two rounds of the playoffs, giving him a respectable 2.33 EGA.
Although Brodeur has been playing teams with substandard goalies this postseason (Theodore, Clemmensen, Bryzgalov), you have to admit that—if this really is his final season—he should be careful against the New York Rangers.
Last season, Tim Thomas was on top of the world as he and the Boston Bruins bested the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Final and won, prompting Vancouver to riot.
This year, Thomas could only watch as the Washington Capitals scored a sudden-death goal in overtime to advance.
Regardless, Thomas allowed 16 goals in the seven-game series, giving him a 2.29 EGA. All in all, Thomas matched up evenly with his opposition, a rookie who only had eight regular-season games under his belt.
It was just sudden death that killed him.
For a guy who had little experience prior to the playoffs, Braden Holtby held his own quite well in 14 postseason games against two of the top goalies in the NHL.
In both seven-game series, Holtby allowed a combined 30 goals for a 2.14 EGA. His netminding, while shaky in some games, almost always kept the Capitals in the contest.
It's too bad that he was in Hershey for the majority of the year, as Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth both had the job before him.
Ottawa's Craig Anderson hung tough as a scrappy Senators team took the New York Rangers to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
In fact, of all the goalies whose teams did not make it past the quarters, Anderson was probably the best.
Anderson allowed 14 goals in seven games for a 2.00 EGA. Considering he went up against star Brad Richards and faced off against one of the best in Henrik Lundqvist, it comes as a surprise that he didn't do worse than expected.
Pekka Rinne is one of the best goalies in the NHL. There is no doubt about that.
Unfortunately, due to a couple of factors that were out of his control (as well as a weak start by him), the Predators could not make it to the conference finals against the Los Angeles Kings.
Pekka let in 21 goals in 11 games for a flashy 1.91 EGA. His best work was in the conference quarterfinals against the Detroit Red Wings.
Unfortunately he couldn't replicate that performance against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Pekka is a great goalie, and—if he gets a better team around him—he could find himself in the Stanley Cup Final.
Ordinarily when people think of the Phoenix Coyotes, they think of a financially unsound team playing in a climate not suited for professional hockey.
Mike Smith and Co. pretty much have shot that image out of the water this postseason.
In the first eleven games this postseason, Smith has allowed 21 goals in 11 games, giving him a 1.91 EGA, which ties him with Pekka Rinne.
The reason why Smith is ranked higher than Rinne is because both teams met in the semifinals with Smith's Coyotes dispatching the Predators rather easily.
Even I can't argue with this ranking, and I despise the Rangers.
Henrik Lundqvist is the best playoff goaltender in the Eastern Conference.
With 26 goals allowed in 14 games, Lundqvist's EGA currently stands at 1.85. This comes as a bit of a shock, considering the Rangers took 14 games to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Maybe it's the fact that he has an excellent offense and defense around him, or maybe it's because he is a brick wall, but Lundqvist may find himself facing the Western Conference champion's goalie in the Stanley Cup Final.
The best goaltender this postseason is none other than Connecticut product Jonathan Quick.
Quick has let only 15 shots by him in nine games, giving him a microscopic EGA of 1.67—an amazing feat considering Quick and the Kings have had to face the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks and the second-seeded St. Louis Blues, and are currently facing the Phoenix Coyotes, the third seed in the Western Conference.
If Quick can dispatch the Coyotes as quickly as he did his first two opponents, then his Kings may find themselves hoisting the Stanley Cup in June.