Chicago Blackhawks: The 10 Best Playoff Goalies in Team History

Joe Favia@joe_faviaCorrespondent IIApril 16, 2011

Chicago Blackhawks: The 10 Best Playoff Goalies in Team History

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Many players have played between the pipes for the storied Chicago Blackhawks.

    Some have shined under the bright lights; others have faltered and crumbled. But when it truly counts is the postseason, where a goalie's legacy is made one way or the other.

    The Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup four times since they broke into the league in the 1920s, and all four times they had a different netminder.

    Some goalies came and went, while others have their banners hanging in the rafters at the United Center.

    The good ones are still revered in Chicago to this day and celebrated for their numerous accomplishments in net.

    Young Corey Crawford has yet to fully set his playoff legacy down in his first experience as the Blackhawks' starting goalie. Perhaps in a short amount of time, he can grace the list and prove himself to be one of the greats.

    This is a list of the top playoff netminders for the Blackhawks through the years.

Honorable Mentions

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Darren Pang

    Al Rollins

    Mike Karakas

    Sam Lopresti

    Alfie Moore

10. Dominik Hasek

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    The list of goalies that had legitimate time in net for the Blackhawks during the playoffs is not that long as you may think.

    Since 1930, around 19 goalies have started the majority of playoff games for the Blackhawks in the postseason.

    So, naturally one of the greats of all time barely gets on the list despite not having a lot of time starting in a Blackhawks uniform.

    "The Dominator," who is a future Hall of Famer, got his start in the NHL with the Blackhawks but spent much of three seasons backing up Ed Belfour.

    Hasek would show signs of his future brilliance in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 1992 against the Penguins in a losing effort.

9. Jocelyn Thibault

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    Widely popular during his five seasons as the Blackhawks goalie, Jocelyn Thibault was the starter when the Blackhawks made the playoffs in 2002.

    They would be bounced out quickly in the opening round, but it still was a nice change of pace during a dry spell in Blackhawks history.

    He did not have a lot of success in that playoff run, but he would carry his success that season into an All-Star year the following season.

8. Denis DeJordy

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    Denis DeJordy holds the distinction of being the man who was around in between the two great goalies in Blackhawk history in Glenn Hall and Tony Esposito.

    He was the backup when they won the Cup in 1961 and handed the starting spot to Esposito when it was time.

    Along the way, he shared the Vezina Trophy with teammate Glenn Hall in 1967.

    His best playoff run was in 1968, when he started in net, and the Blackhawks made it all the way to the conference finals.

7. Nikolai Khabibulin

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    If this was a list of the best Lightning all-time playoff goalies, Nikolai Khabibulin would for sure be atop the list.

    But, it is not, and Khabibulin only had one run in the playoffs with the Hawks, and it was quite successful.

    The prized free-agent signing after the NHL Lockout was this Russian goalie. He was coming off the Stanley Cup victory with Tampa Bay, and a lot of Blackhawks fans were expecting good things right away.

    It took Khabibulin and the Blackhawks a few seasons to reach the playoffs. When they did, they went all the way to the conference finals.

    Khabibulin played his best hockey against the likes of Calgary, Vancouver and Detroit before an injury, and was a key reason that team went on a run.

6. Ed Belfour

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    Eddie "The Eagle" Belfour emerged on the scene in the late 1980s and quickly became one of the most popular and best goaltenders in the NHL.

    Belfour saw a lot of time in seven different playoff appearances for the Blackhawks. His best run was in 1992, when he was the starting goalie and the Blackhawks made it to the Stanley Cup.

    He was a two-time Vezina winner with the Blackhawks and would go on to winning a Cup with Dallas in his illustrious career.

5. Antti Niemi

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    Antti Niemi will forever mean a lot to Blackhawk fans everywhere and will not be seen as a "one-hit wonder."

    Niemi was in net for all 16 playoff wins last season as the Blackhawks cruised through the playoffs to the title win.

    He was the first Blackhawk goalie to get a shutout since Ed Belfour and the first to have two shutouts in one series since Tony Esposito.

    Though he was one of the many casualties of the salary cap purge of the offseason, he still created a lot of classic memories in Chicago.

4. Murray Bannerman

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    Following a legend in net in Tony Esposito, Murray Bannerman ended up carving his own place in Blackhawks history serving in net for many seasons throughout the 1980s.

    He got things going in his starting career in the playoffs in 1982. He led the Blackhawks to big wins on the road that led to a series win over the North Stars.

    His best year with the Hawks was in 1985, when he brought them to the conference finals.

    Bannerman would go on to play 40 games in net in the playoffs for the Blackhawks and become a fan favorite.

3. Chuck Gardiner

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    The goalie for the first Blackhawks team to capture the Stanley Cup was one of the game's all-time greats Chuck Gardiner.

    Gardiner was a two-time Vezina winner— the only goalie to be named captain—and lead his team to the Stanley Cup.

    He was terrific in the 1931 playoffs, but his greatness will always be remembered for his '34 campaign.

    He went 6-1-1 in eight games with a 1.33 goals against average. This was all while not revealing an illness.

    He was playing with a tonsillar infection that would weaken him during games, but he didn't allow it to affect his play. Gardiner would play with terrible illness throughout the playoffs.

    He ended up dying that year at the age of 29 from a brain hemorrhage brought on by the infection.

    He is still regarded as one of the greatest to ever play and is the first great Blackhawk.

2. Tony Esposito

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    Hall of Famer and legend Tony Esposito was a pioneer and terrific goalie throughout his oustanding career.

    He was in net for the Blackhawks during the playoffs in 14 different seasons.

    Esposito was a catalyst in bringing the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup twice in 1971 and 1973. He also was a three-time Vezina winner while wearing the Blackhawk uniform.

    His accomplishments are long and many, and his impact on the Blackhawks is still being felt to this day, but it is clear that "Tony O" was one of a kind.

1. Glenn Hall

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    Let the debate rage on who is the top goalie in franchise history when it comes to the playoffs.

    You can't go wrong when you are talking about "Tony O" and "Mr. Goalie" Glenn Hall. Both are Hall of Famers and have their names and numbers hanging high and proud in the United Center ceiling.

    But, Glenn Hall takes the top spot on this list because he revolutionized many aspects of the game in net.

    With his butterfly style, he brought the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup in 1961 and got the victory.

    His consistency and dominance—not only for the Blackhawks, but for several other teams—is admired to this day.