In the playoffs, no position is more critical and yet more unpredictable than the goaltender. Even the briefest cold streak can be enough to knock a regular-season monster out of contention, while a sufficiently hot stretch can carry even the most mediocre teams to the Stanley Cup. Who have been the very best goalies in the modern era?
To answer that question, I studied the stats of the 276 goalies who have played at least a single playoff game since the 1967 NHL expansion. Scoring levels had to be adjusted for, and consistent career-long achievements had to be balanced against those with higher peaks over a fewer appearances.
Ultimately, there were 10 goalies who have achieved the majority of the following:
- Won a Stanley Cup
- Won a Conn Smythe as playoff MVP
- Won at least 60 percent of his games
- Posted an era-normalized career goals-against average of 2.30 or less
- Posted an era-normalized career save percentage of .920 or better (applicable only after 1984, when shot data for goalies was first recorded)
These 10 goalies were then ranked by both the sum total of their career accomplishments and the high-water mark of their best single-season performances.
There is a lot of room for opinions here, so be sure to weigh in with your own suggestions in the comments. Let's begin!
All raw statistics are from Hockey Reference; era-adjusted rankings are via writer's own original research.