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Power Ranking Each Remaining Goaltender in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2013

Power Ranking Each Remaining Goaltender in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs

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    When the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010, goalie Antti Niemi was not the dominant reason that they were able to emerge with the silver chalice.

    Chicago was a puck-possession team that used its skills and abilities to make more plays in the offensive zone than its opponents on a consistent basis. Niemi played well and was an important contributor, but he was not the main reason the Blackhawks lifted the Stanley Cup for the first time in 49 years.

    When the Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings won in 2011 and 2012, respectively, you could not make the argument that the goaltenders were merely along for the ride. Tim Thomas and Jonathan Quick both won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Players in the postseason.

    Whether the goaltender is a Stanley Cup contender's MVP or merely a role player, he plays a key role in every playoff series.

    Here's our power rankings of the eight remaining goaltenders still playing postseason hockey.

8. Tomas Vokoun, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Dan Bylsma benched starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in the first round because the Penguins' starting goalie couldn't stop a beach ball.

    Bylsma was afraid that the Penguins were going to suffer another first-round defeat because of their defensive and goaltender deficiencies, and he inserted backup Tomas Vokoun into the lineup prior to the fifth game of the first-round series.

    Vokoun has exceeded expectations. He helped the Penguins survive the first round by closing out the Islanders in six games. He has helped them secure an advantage over the Senators in the second round.

    Vokoun's performance has been spectacular since taking over from Fleury. He has a 1.61 goals against average, and his .949 save percentage leads all goalies in the postseason.

    If he can keep it up, the Penguins have a great shot at reaching the Stanley Cup Finals.

7. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings

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    It's testimony to the strength of the goalies who are still playing that Howard rates as seventh on this list.

    He was huge in the Red Wings' first-round series against the Anaheim Ducks, and he came through with a big effort in Game 2 against the Chicago Blackhawks, giving the Red Wings a key road victory and serving notice that Detroit was not just going to fade away.

    Howard has quick reactions and excellent anticipation, but he can be worn down if the Red Wings defense puts him in a shooting-gallery mode.

    Howard needs the Red Wings defense to play at a high level if he is going to be consistently effective. Howard has a 2.58 GAA and a .916 save percentage, but he can make the key save at the big moment for head coach Mike Babcock.

6. Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Corey Crawford has been one of the better goalies in the league all season.

    He proved himself in the regular season and was quite sharp in the opening-round victory over the Minnesota Wild. Crawford is athletic, agile and acrobatic, and that allows him to make a series of standout saves that keep the opponent off the board.

    Crawford's numbers have been eye-opening during the postseason. He has a 1.64 GAA and a .937 save percentage as well as one shutout. He has carried the Blackhawks' goaltending chores by himself in the postseason, after splitting the chores with Ray Emery during the regular season.

    There are still questions about Crawford's play in the clutch. Last year, he gave up three overtime goals in the Blackhawks' first-round loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. Two of those goals were quite soft.

    While he looks much better this year and has given a strong indication that he is a better goalie than he was last year, he has not proven it conclusively.

5. Craig Anderson, Ottawa

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    All is not well in Ottawa. After drumming the favored Montreal Canadiens out of the playoffs in the opening round, the Senators were given a puncher's chance of extending and possibly beating the favored Pittsburgh Penguins in the conference semifinals.

    Their biggest strength was the goaltending of Craig Anderson, who was the NHL's leading goaltender in the regular season and was sharp against the Canadiens. Anderson was going to need to be at his best against the high-scoring Penguins.

    He has not been. Anderson gave up four goals in the opening 4-1 loss to the Penguins, and he was driven from the net in the second game of the series, a 4-3 loss to the Penguins. Anderson gave up three goals on 21 shots and looked shabby.

    Anderson bounced back in a big way in leading the Sens to a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 3.

    Anderson's GAA is 2.17, and he has a .940 save percentage.

4. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

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    Tuukka Rask was the unsung hero of the Boston Bruins' first-round victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    While the Bruins' incredible seventh-game, third-period comeback was one for the record books, it was Rask who allowed his team to make the comeback after making key saves in one-on-one situations that could have put the game away.

    Rask has been steady all season, and he has continued with his dependable play in the postseason. While the Rangers earn the check mark in the goaltending department with Henrik Lundqvist, don't sell Rask short. He does not make many mistakes, and he can make a lot of spectacular saves that can spur his team.

    Rask has a 2.32 GAA and a .928 save percentage in the postseason. He is also 3-0 in playoff overtime games.

3. Antti Niemi, San Jose Sharks

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    Antti Niemi proved he was capable of winning a Stanley Cup in 2010 with the Chicago Blackhawks.

    While the Blackhawks did not think he was worthy of an arbitrator's award following the Stanley Cup victory, he was given the freedom to go out and make his own deal.

    That was embarrassing for Niemi, but he found a willing suitor in the San Jose Sharks and he has been a thorough pro in the three seasons that have followed. He has been very sharp in the Sharks' playoff efforts this year, recording a 2.06 GAA and a .926 save percentage.

    Niemi does not get down on himself after tough games. He may have given up the tying and winning goals to the Los Angeles Kings in the second game of the conference semifinal playoff series, but he came back with a steady performance in Game 3 and earned a 2-1 overtime victory to help the Sharks regain their footing in the series.

2. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

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    "The King" is widely acknowledged to be the best goalie in the NHL.

    That may be selling him short. He may be the best goalie in the world. He gives the Rangers an opportunity to win when they are not at their best, and that if they play their opponents even, Lundqvist is going to give them an edge most of the time.

    He refused to yield in the first-round series against the Washington Capitals when he shutout the Caps in Games 6 and 7 to allow the Rangers to advance.

    However, he has not been at his best in the conference semifinals, as he has given up eight goals to the Boston Bruins in the first two games of the series.

    Lundqvist is smart, athletic and explosive in his movements. He has a 2.10 GAA and a .935 save percentage along with his two playoff shutouts.

1. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

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    After bringing home the Conn Smythe Award last year, Jonathan Quick is once again on top of the goalie rankings in this year's Stanley Cup playoffs.

    After starting off the first round with a pair of painful, one-goal defeats, Quick backstopped the Kings to six straight playoff victories that allowed them to eliminate the St. Louis Blues in six games and take a 2-1 lead over the San Jose Sharks.

    Quick leads all Stanley Cup playoff goalies with a 1.60 GAA, and he also has a .947 save percentage to go with two shutouts.

    More than the numbers, head coach Darryl Sutter knows that Quick is going to make the save in nearly all crucial game situations.

    That gives the Kings the confidence to skate hard and go for it offensively when the opportunity presents itself because they know that Quick will come through if they allow an odd-man rush nearly every time.

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