NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011: Power Ranking the Goalies

PJ Sapienza@@pjsapiContributor IIIApril 19, 2011

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011: Power Ranking the Goalies

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Playoff hockey often comes down to which team has the hot goalie. A goalie on a hot streak can carry his team to victory.

    In past seasons, goalies have taken their teams on some pretty improbable runs through the playoffs.  Which goaltenders are poised to take their team on a deep run this year?

    As we are just past the midpoint of the first round of the playoffs, it is time to power rank the goalies.

18: Dan Ellis, Anaheim Ducks

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    Ellis made the start in Game 1 when Emery was ruled out due to injury.  He gave up four goals in just under 41 minutes before he was pulled.  Instead of grabbing a chance at more playing time, he will ride the bench.

17: Sergei Bobrovsky, Philladelphia Flyers

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    Bobrovsky played well in Game 1 despite a 1-0 loss.  He stopped 24 of 25 shots during that game. Bobrovsky was pulled in Game 2 after giving up three goals in the first 12 minutes of the game.  Despite leading the team throughout the season, Bobrovsky has now lost his starting spot as Brian Boucher was given the starting nod in Game 3.  He doesn’t have a long enough track record to show, if given the chance, whether he is able to rebound under such pressure.

16: IIya Bryzgalov, Phoneix Coyotes

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    Bryzgalov has had a rough series so far.  He has given up four goals in all three games and has a save percentage of .881.  That is the lowest of any keeper with at least two games played in these playoffs.  With his long history and Stanley cup winning experience, the Coyotes were hoping for a more steady and solid performance from Bryzgalov. 

    The hope was that as the series turns to Phoenix, he would find his play in front of the home crowd.  That did not happen as the Wings scored twice in the first couple of minutes and pulled away for a 4-2 win.  The Coyotes and Bryzgalov, now just hope to avoid being swept at home.

15: Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks

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    The defending Stanley Cup champs let their goalie from last year go due to salary cup issues.  Crawford has since taken over that starting spot and now feels the full pressure of leading the Blackhawks to a repeat.  In all fairness, going up against the high powered Vancouver Canucks is no easy task.  Still, his goal against average is 3.09 which is well above that of the man he replaced.  The team is now facing being swept out of the playoffs.  They will need a stellar performance in Game 4 to prevent that from happening.

14: Ray Emery, Anaheim Ducks

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    Emery didn’t start Game 1 due to injury but was forced into action when Ellis gave up four goals in 41 minutes.  His performance hasn’t been all that great.  He’s given up seven combined goals in his two starts and has 3.09 goals against average in the playoffs.  If the Ducks are to have a chance to get past the Predators then Emery will need to stand strong for them.

13: Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins

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    When you lead the league in goals against during the season and are the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy then starting with two losses, especially at home, is unacceptable.  Thomas had 2.00 goals against during the season with a .938 save percentage. 

    Those numbers have dropped to 2.54 and .890 respectively through the first two games.   A win in Game 3, in which Thomas gave up two goals, has his team breathing again.  He will need to return to his regular season form and fast if Boston is to see the second round.

12: Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres

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     If only it were a one game series.  In game 1, Miller looked dominate in stopping all 35 shots, earning the playoff shutout on the road.  Since then he has given up nine goals in the past two games and has seen his team fall behind 2-1 in the series.

11: Antti Niemi, San Jose Sharks

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    Niemi had a good first game where he stopped 33 of the 35 shots he faced in leading the Sharks to a 3-2 overtime win.  Game 2 was a different story though as the Kings were able to score four goals on only 23 shots. 

    Niemi and the Sharks are kindred spirits; the Sharks are trying to finally make the finals after years of being upset, while Niemi is trying to show that the Blackhawks made a mistake in letting him go.  The pressure is high on all parties and the more games like this that get out of hand, the more likely it is that Niemi and the team will panic.

10. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

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    Rinne had a great regular season in which he finished third in goals against average.  His average has jumped .5 a game in the playoffs.  His save percentage has taken a huge drop going from .930 to .887.

    The Predators are not an overly powerful offensive team so the assumption was that Rinne would need to stand tall for the Predators to secure their first ever series playoff win.  The opposite has happened, though, as the team has scored at least three goals in every game.   Despite Rinne’s slide his team is up 2-1 in the series.  With Rinne though, a shutout performance could be right around the corner.

9: Dwayne Roloson, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Roloson has been decent in goal but not spectacular.  In the team's two losses he allowed three goals.  In their lone win, he only gave up one goal.  Despite the scorers that the Lightning have, the Penguins defense has done a good job in containing them.  It appears that Roloson will need to step up in order for his team to advance.

8: Brian Boucher, Philladelphia Flyers

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    Boucher has been called on yet again to come to the rescue.  Last year he came in to help lead the team to the Stanley Cup Finals before injuries knocked him out.  He can’t seem to hang on to the starting job though as last year and this he kept finding himself bounced around the bench.  He entered Game 2 in relief of starter Bobrovsky and was able to hang on for the win. In Game 3 he allowed only 2 goals and helped the Flyers take a 2-1 series lead.

7: Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Fluery would be higher if not for giving up five goals in Game 2.  He posted a shutout in Game 1 where he stopped all 32 shots he faced.  In Game 3, he was able to hold the high-scoring Lightning to only two goals, which helped his team take a 2-1 series lead. 

6: Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings

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    Detroit fans were very wary of Howard entering these playoffs.  His regular season numbers dropped from last season and there were prolonged bouts of inconsistent play.  Thus far, he has been solid in goal, which is all the Red Wings ask of him. 

    In Game 1, with the team down 1-0, the Red Wings spent much of their first period fighting off power plays.  Howard stood strong in net, allowing the Wings to gather themselves before coming back to win the game.  Game 2 saw a big lead almost fall apart late as the Coyotes were able to score three power play goals. 

    In Game 3, the Wings scored two quick goals to start the game. The Coyotes sent a barrage of shots at Howard towards the end of the first period trying to get back into the game however he held strong making several great saves.  Howard and the Red Wings now head into game four looking for the sweep.

5: Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

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    If not for being down 2-1 in the series, Lundqvist would rank higher. Coming into the series, it was known that if the Rangers had any hope of pulling off the upset, Lundqvist was going to have to stand on his head.  He has held up his end of the deal. 

    If not for an offensive blackout by his teammates in the first two games in which they combined for only one goal, his team could be leading the series.  He has stopped 70 of the 76 shots he has faced through three games.  He will continue to keep his team in the game but the issue will be if they can give him enough goal support.

4: Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

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    The top four goalies are just about a toss up right now as each is playing very well.  Quick only has two games on his playoff resume so far this season and that is what earns him the fourth spot.  With a 1-1 series and his team heading home for the next two games, Quick will be looked upon to continue his excellent play.  He followed up a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 1 with an impressive 34 save shutout in Game 2 that evened the series.

3: Michal Neuvirth, Washington Capitals

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    The young net minder has done very well under the pressure of being the top seeded team in the east.  He has only allowed four goals over the three games, including one shutout.  His impressive .951 save percentage has his team holding a 2-1 series lead against the Rangers.

2: Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

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    Price gets the second spot over Neuvirth based on his two road wins against Boston.  Those wins have allowed the underdog Canadiens to take a 2-1 series lead.  He has lead the way with an incredible .955 save percentage while only allowing 1.34 goals against.  He could easily play the role of goalie who gets hot and pulls his team through a couple of upsets this year.

1: Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks

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    Luongo has led the charge as the Canucks have the defending champs on the verge of a sweep.  The 3-0 series lead is even sweeter as the Blackhawks have knocked the Canucks out of the playoffs the last two seasons. 

    Luongo posted a shutout in Game 1, which really set the tone for the series.  He has a .944 save percentage so far and will be looking to close the series out in Game 4.  The Canucks entered the post season as the favorites to win the Cup, based on their excellent season.  So far Vancouver, and especially Luongo, has lived up to the hype and has not crumbled under the pressure.