2010 NHL Playoffs: Ranking the Goalies Heading into Round Two
There were lists ranking the goaltenders heading into the playoffs, but those lists were based on names and performances during the season.
But, of course, we all know the playoffs are a totally different game.
Most of these goaltenders haven't played badly (it's tough to get to the second round with a sieve in net), but some have been significantly better than others.
As we all know, the team with the best goaltender doesn't necessarily win the cup each year—but the past Stanley Cup winners' goalies have gotten hot at the right time. Any team could ride a hot goalie all the way to a championship.
Who knows? Maybe some of these top goalies will fall from grace, and won't be able to replicate their first-round form, or vice versa.
Maybe goaltenders who weren't stellar will be able to flip the switch and stand on their head going into Round Two.
But that's just the excitement of the playoffs.
8. Roberto Luongo
As I said, I don't think there's a unanimous decision about which second-round goaltender has been the worse, because in order for a team to move on, your goalie has to be pretty good.
Game Six was Luongo's best in the series against Los Angeles, but aside from Game Six, he looked less than stellar.
He scooped the puck off of his goal line in Game One, and then saw his Canucks finish the game off in overtime.
The next four games weren't his best.
Luongo got chased in Game Three after giving up four goals on 16 shots.
Luongo is often considered one of the top goaltenders in the league, and this is part of the reason when his performance can be criticized.
Many just assumed he would play great because of his gold medal triumph, but a 0.893 save percentage is far from great.
7. Marc-Andre Fleury
Fleury was a big reason the Penguins were able to capture the cup last year. He really stepped up his play when he needed to.
If the Penguins want to hoist the Stanley Cup again this year, Fleury will need to be better.
Fleury bounced back from his mistake-riddled game one, and only allowed one goal in Game Two.
The next four games saw the Penguins go 3-1. Some shaky goaltending from Brian Elliot got him replaced by Pascal Leclaire for Game Five, which the Senators won.
Leclaire played solid in that Game Five, giving the Senators hope. The Penguins' firepower was too much for him in Game Six though, and Pittsburgh took it in overtime.
Next round, the Penguins will face a very hot goalie (that's for later though).
While Fleury won't have to steal games, the Penguins might not see the third round if Fleury doesn't play at least mediocre.
6. Antti Niemi
If Fleury was inconsistent, then there aren't many words that could describe Niemi's first-round performance.
He played pretty well in Game One, despite one really soft goal, but his Hawks fell to the Predators.
Niemi went on to blank the Preds in Game Two. The next game, he sported a save percentage of 0.866. These inconsistencies can be expected of a rookie goaltender in the playoffs, but the Hawks could ask more of him.
He leads the playoffs in shutouts with two, but the final two games of the series Niemi's save percentage was in the 800s.
The Blackhawks' scoring ability was enough to propel them to win those two games, despite questionable outings from Niemi.
If Luongo plays like he did in Game Six, Niemi will have to play like he did in his two shutouts, or the Hawks may find themselves on the golf course pretty soon.
5. Jimmy Howard
As we get higher on this list, it gets harder to put goaltenders at the bottom.
Overall, Jimmy Howard played well for the Redwings, and I'm sure having a team like the Redwings in front of you doesn't hurt.
Howard was also quite inconsistent. He had a few bad nights, but he also had a few good nights. He recorded one shutout in Game Four, which knotted up the series at 2-2.
Next round, the Wings will take on the San Jose Sharks, who undeniably have more firepower up front than the Coyotes.
The Sharks may be infamous for choking, but there is potential for the big stars like Thornoton, Heatley, and Marleau, amongst others to get to the rookie goaltender.
4. Evgeni Nabokov
As I touched on last slide, the Sharks are infamous for choking in the playoffs, despite holding excellent regular season records.
Nabokov isn't the sole reason they've choked in the past, but he has been a factor.
But in Round One, Nabokov played well. Surprisingly, the two worst games Nabokov played ended up as wins for the Sharks, and Nabokov was far from horrible in the two games the Avalanche won.
Craig Anderson stole the show, as the Sharks peppered him practically all series, but some criticized Nabokov for not being able to stop Boyle's Game Three overtime blunder, in which he scored an own goal as he was trying to harmlessly pass the puck behind the net.
Players like Setoguchi and Pavelski stepping up and giving him some offensive support helped, but most of these games were very close, with three of the games going to overtime.
So it's not like Nabokov always had a big lead to work with. Simply put, Nabokov got the job done.
3. Tuukka Rask
Outplaying likely Vezina winner Ryan Miller is no small feat, but that's exactly what Tuukka Rask did.
With Marc Savard still out with injury, the Boston Bruins didn't have a lot going for them up front and would need solid goaltending.
Rask never allowed more than three goals. He only had a save percentage below 0.900 once in Game Two, where he had a 0.897 in a Boston win—that was also the only game that Rask faced less than 30 shots.
He was getting worked, and showed that his great regular season was no fluke.
Now that the Bruins are getting Marc Savard back, they can expect to have some more offensive production.
The way Rask has played, that can be a scary thought for opposing teams.
2. Brian Boucher
Wow, just wow.
Anyone who says they knew Brian Boucher would be this good in the playoffs is straight lying.
Boucher was big in that last regular season game against the Rangers that put the Flyers in the playoffs. Before that game though, he was a part of the reason the Flyers needed to clinch a playoff berth on the very last day of the regular season.
In the first round, Boucher by far outplayed the legendary Martin Brodeur, and made saves he had no business making.
One save sticks out in my head.
Kovalchuk, who the Devils payed a hefty price for, skated right into the slot and ripped a shot, only to see Boucher throw up his glove and make an unbelievable save.
This save was the story of the series. Kovalchuk, along with some other New Jersey forwards, was frustrated by the stellar play of Boucher, and just couldn't find ways to consistently get the puck behind him.
Now that the Flyers are without Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne, Boucher will have to play as good—or what seems impossible—better, to get past the Bruins.
Especially in the Game Four overtime, Rask was outstanding, and really frustrated the Sabres shooters. He made a great diving save. On the other end of the ice, Miller made two game-savers just as remarkable as Rask's.
There's no telling how far Rask could carry the Bruins, but if they can score 15 goals against Ryan Miller without Marc Savard, then Rask could carry them all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.
1. Jaroslav Halak
I'm sure no one really expected Jaroslav Halak to make this list.
I expected to put Varlamov near the bottom of the list, but after three godly performances, he has his Habs in the second round.
Halak was the only goalie heading into Round Two who didn't start every one of his team's games, and was pulled—just like Luongo, who makes No. 8 on this list.
Montreal started Price in Game Four. Maybe they saw that Halak was tired.
Well if he was, that rest did him wonders.
With the Capitals up 3-1 in the series, Halak allowed only one goal in each of the last three games.
He posted a save percentage of 0.977 in those last three games, and faced a whopping 134 shots.
Three goals allowed on 134 shots? I'd say that's pretty good.
But now we look on, and the Habs face off against the other (and better in my opinion) poster boy of the NHL, Sidney Crosby.
I believe the Penguins have a team better suited for the playoffs than the Caps, but that doesn't matter if Halak can perform like he has the past week.
Replicating that kind of form is no easy feat.
But neither was knocking off the President Trophy winners. If Halak can play out of his mind like he did in Round One, watch out for the Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Final.