2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Goaltender Power Rankings: 1st-Round Edition

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2013

2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Goaltender Power Rankings: 1st-Round Edition

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    Money goalie.

    It's a phrase that defines what all general managers and head coaches want to see from their netminders in the playoffs.

    When looking at the top goaltenders in the NHL playoffs, it's about consistency and the ability to come up with the big stop at the key moment in the game.

    A great playoff goaltender may not always be the most consistent in the regular season, but he knows how to play the game when the lights are brightest.

    Gerry Cheevers comes quickly to mind. When he was in goal for the Boston Bruins in 1970s, he often let in stoppable goals when the high-scoring Bruins led by three goals or more. But when they were in a tight game, Cheesy came up with a spectacular save.

    Here's our power ranking of the goalies who are competing in the first round of the playoffs.

16. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

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    Michel Therien has exploded in anger at Ottawa counterpart Paul MacLean on two separate occasions in the playoffs. When Lars Eller was injured after getting hit by Eric Gryba, Therien did not like MacLean's defense of the Ottawa blueliner.

    Therien was also angered by a late timeout called in the Senators' 6-1 victory in Game 3 in Ottawa.

    However, we theorize that Therien is not mad at MacLean at all. He is really angry at Carey Price, but he has transferred his anger to the Ottawa coach.

    Price was in a deep slump in the weeks prior to the playoffs and he has been off his game in the postseason. He was weak in the Game 1 loss and was simply awful in Game 3. Those two more than cancel out a good game in between.

    Price has hurt his reputation badly in recent weeks. He has a 3.69 goals-against average in the postseason and an .879 save percentage.

    If Price doesn't pick it up quickly, the Canadiens will find themselves on the golf course very soon.

15. Roberto Luongo-Cory Schneider, Vancouver Canucks

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    Just three games into the playoffs, the Vancouver Canucks are on the brink of elimination. While it's not all on the goaltending, it's difficult for the Canucks to feel confident that either Roberto Luongo or Cory Schneider will make the big save if the game comes down to it in a pressure situation.

    Luongo has had too many failures over the whole of his career. The Canucks came to the conclusion last year that if Luongo was going to show that he was a money goalie, he would prove it for another team. Mike Gillis never moved him and the Canucks suffered with goalie angst throughout the season.

    Schneider came back from a "body injury" in Game 3 in the Canucks series against the San Jose Sharks, but he looked awful. He let up five goals before he was pulled in favor of Luongo.

    Luongo has a 2.57 GAA and a .915 save percentage and it doesn't seem likely that he will keep the Canucks from getting swept by the San Jose Sharks.

14. Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Last year was a nightmare for Marc-Andre Fleury. His Pittsburgh Penguins got obliterated by the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the playoffs and Fleury was abysmal in net.

    The Penguins defense was dramatically better in the 2013 regular season and Fleury appeared to be a far more confident goalie than he was a year ago.

    However, in the opening round against the eighth-seeded New York Islanders, Fleury has not been good. In the second game, he gave up four questionable goals as the Islanders stole a game in Pittsburgh.

    Fleury gave up four more in the third game, but he was rescued by teammate Chris Kunitz's overtime goal. Fleury has a 2.55 GAA and a .923 save percentage and has been shaky at best in the first three games of the playoffs.

    It's hard for head coach Dan Bylsma and his teammates to have confidence in Fleury.

13. Evgeni Nabokov, New York Islanders

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    Evgeni Nabokov's stellar play in goal during the regular season is one of the primary reasons the Islanders earned their surprising spot in the playoffs this year.

    However, Nabokov appears to be in over his head against the explosive Penguins. He gave up four goals in the opener before he was pulled, gave up three more in the second game and five in the overtime loss in Game 3.

    Nabokov may be a bit tired from all the work he did in the regular season, but that's cold comfort to Islanders head coach Jack Capuano.

    He needs Nabokov to come back to form immediately. Nabokov has an inflated 4.77 GAA and a shocking .836 save percentage.

12. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings

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    The Red Wings earned their spot in the playoffs when they won their final four games in the last week of the regular season. Jimmy Howard's consistent play in goal was the backbone of those clutch performances.

    Howard has yet to play at that level in the postseason against the second-seeded Anaheim Ducks. He has struggled through the first three games, giving up 3.33 goals per game and registering an .885 save percentage.

    In the Red Wings 5-4 overtime win in Game 2, he had a 4-1 lead in the third period before giving up three goals in the final period. If the Red Wings had not scored on a power play in the first two minutes of overtime, Howard almost certainly would have been vulnerable to giving up the winner in the extra session.

    If that had happened, the Red Wings would likely be staring at a 3-0 deficit in the series.

11. James Reimer, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Like the rest of his teammates, James Reimer was shaky in goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first game of the playoff series against the Boston Bruins.

    After James van Riemsdyk had given the Leafs an early 1-0 lead, Reimer gave up a shaky goal to Wade Redden that triggered a Boston 4-1 victory.

    However, Reimer responded nicely in the second game and made a number of key saves while playing confidently. The Leafs stole home-ice advantage away from the Bruins with a 4-2 victory.

    Reimer is not likely to dominate the series, but he has a 3.00 GAA and a respectable .925 save percentage.

    Reimer is not a stellar goalie, but he is much improved this season and has given the Leafs a chance to compete with a playoff-tested team like the Bruins.

10. Josh Harding, Minnesota Wild

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    Josh Harding was supposed to be anchored to the bench as the Minnesota Wild's backup goalie behind starter Niklas Backstrom in the postseason.

    Backstrom suffered a lower-body injury (source: startribune.com) in warm-ups prior to the first game of the series and has not been able to take his usual spot in goal. Harding has played all three games and he has given the Wild more than they could have hoped for from a seldom-used backup.

    Harding has a 2.41 GAA and a .928 save percentage, numbers good enough to help the Wild as they try to hang in with the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks. Harding nearly stole Game 1 for the Wild and he helped earn their overtime victory in Game 3.

9. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

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    Tuukka Rask is capable of being a dominant goalie for the Boston Bruins. After giving up an early goal in the first game of the series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Rask shut the door on his opponents in a 4-1 victory.

    However, when the Leafs had a much better effort in Game 2, Rask gave up a crucial goal early in the third period to Phil Kessel on a breakaway. Kessel beat Rask between the legs with his quick release and the Leafs evened the series with a 4-2 victory.

    Rask knows that he must play much better if the Bruins are going to make a run at the Stanley Cup this year. He is certainly capable of doing it, but he has a 2.54 GAA and a .904 save percentage as the first-round series shifts to Toronto.

8. Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Corey Crawford had a stellar regular season for the Chicago Blackhawks, leading them to the Presidents' Trophy and teaming with backup Ray Emery to give head coach Joel Quenneville's team excellent play in goal.

    Crawford has been solid in the first three games of the playoffs with a 1.81 GAA and a .935 save percentage, but the final moment of Game 3 was not his best. That's when Minnesota's Jason Zucker fired a high, hard shot from a bad angle into the net to give the Wild a 2-1 overtime win.

    Crawford cannot be faulted for much more in the playoffs, but that overtime goal could give Crawford cause for concern. He gave up three overtime goals to Phoenix in last year's playoff loss and if he is thinking about his problems in the extra sessions, the Blackhawks may have an issue the rest of the way.

7. Jonas Hiller, Anaheim Ducks

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    The Anaheim Ducks had confidence in their ability at the goaltending position as the playoffs got underway.

    Head coach Bruce Boudreau knew that he was in good shape whether he decided to go with Jonas Hiller or Viktor Fasth in goal. Through the first three games, Hiller has been his choice and he has been quite good.

    The Ducks hold a 2-1 lead in the series. After they dropped a 5-4 decision in overtime in Game 2, Hiller responded with a road shutout over the Red Wings in Game 3.

    Hiller has a 1.99 GAA and a .922 save percentage through the first three games of the postseason.

6. Antti Niemi, San Jose Sharks

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    The San Jose Sharks don't get a lot of attention or respect. However, they are off to an excellent start in this year's postseason, racing off to a 3-0 lead over the stumbling Vancouver Canucks.

    Antti Niemi already has a Stanley Cup to his credit when he backstopped the Chicago Blackhawks to the title in 2010. Still, the Blackhawks let him go at the end of that season.

    He has been solid but not spectacular for the Sharks since then. Niemi has been on top of his game in this series, though, with a 1.62 GAA and a stellar .945 save percentage.

    Most observers will continue to overlook the Sharks and Niemi, but they just may shock the rest of the hockey world throughout the rest of the playoffs.

5. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

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    Jonathan Quick is the backbone of the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy last year and excels at making the big save at the key moment.

    However, Quick had two tough moments in the first two games of the Kings' playoff series against the St. Louis Blues. He gave up an overtime goal in the first game after he lost the puck behind his own net and Alex Steen of the Blues was able to put the puck in an unguarded cage.

    One game later, he gave up the game-winner in the final minute to Barret Jackman on a hard wrist shot.

    With the Kings under significant pressure, he threw a shutout at the Blues in the third game of the series. Quick has a 1.25 GAA and a shocking .959 save percentage in the first three games of the series.

4. Brian Eliott, St. Louis Blues

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    Brian Elliott's slow start in the regular season has been forgotten in St. Louis.

    That's because he is performing like one of the best goalies in the world as the playoffs have started.

    Elliott was actually quite strong in the final weeks of the regular season and he has done even better in the first three games of the postseason. Elliott has a miniscule 0.92 GAA and .962 save percentage.

    Elliott has a great glove and can make acrobatic saves, but he excels because his positioning is superb and he takes away openings from opposing shooters.

    The Blues are motivated after getting swept by the Los Angeles Kings in last year's playoff series. They have won two of the first three games this time around.

3. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

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    Henrik Lundqvist won the Vezina Trophy for his performance in goal last year and is considered by many to be the best goaltender in the NHL.

    However, it may not matter in this year's playoffs because the New York Rangers don't have many goal-scoring options. They have scored only one goal in the first two games against the Washington Capitals.

    Lundqvist blanked the Capitals through three periods in Game 2 of the series, but when his teammates couldn't even register a shot on goal in overtime, the Rangers eventually lost when Washington defenseman Mike Green was able to blast a power-play goal past the King.

    Lundqvist has a 1.90 GAA and a .941 save percentage through the first two games, and he is probably the only reason the Rangers have a chance to make a comeback against the Caps.

2. Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals

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    Braden Holtby is the real deal for the Washington Capitals. He announced his presence when the got the best of Tim Thomas in a first-round duel with the Boston Bruins in last year's postseason and then extended Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers to seven games.

    Holtby is surrounded by a much better team this year and is excelling through the first two games of the playoffs. He allowed one goal in a 3-1 victory in the first game of the series with New York and then registered a 1-0 overtime shutout in Game 2.

    Holtby has a 0.47 GAA and a .983 save percentage. While there's no way he can keep either of those figures at that level over the long haul, he is capable of playing the role of superstar goalie and taking the Capitals on a substantial playoff run.

1. Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators

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    Craig Anderson may be the most important player competing in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    He plays goal for the Ottawa Senators and if he does not play spectacularly, the Senators have little chance of advancing in the playoffs.

    The Senators may have put six goals up against the Montreal Canadiens in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series, but they are the lowest-scoring team in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    Anderson had the best save percentage in the regular season (1.69 GAA and .941 save percentage) and he stole a victory for the Senators in Game 1 when he stopped 48 of 50 Montreal shots. That spectacular performance is not shocking for Anderson.

    He is capable of shutting down any team and he could help the seventh-seeded Senators steal this first-round series. Anderson has a 2.01 GAA and a .949 save percentage through the first three games of the postseason.