The National Hockey League has a long, rich history of world-class goaltending. The league and its observers have been trying to find ways to increase goal scoring for some time now. Some of the ideas that have been bandied about and experimented with have been smaller nets, smaller goaltender equipment and larger offensive zones. One thing that has not been mentioned by many people is that maybe shooters are not scoring at a high rate because the league's goaltenders are the best they have ever been.
Coaching, new techniques and lighter equipment have contributed to this. The days of putting the kid who is the weakest skater between the pipes are over. Today's goaltenders are some of the best athletes on their respective teams. They need to be great skaters, quick, agile and physically strong to withstand the speed and rigors of the position.
We have the pleasure of watching world class athletes such as Pekka Rinne, Antti Niemi, Jonathan Quick, Roberto Luongo and Miikka Kiprusoff in the Western Conference. In the East, fans have grown accustomed to the outstanding performances of Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Miller, Cam Ward, Marc-Andre Fleury, Carey Price and Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas.
It is no coincidence that three of those goaltenders—Miller, Price and Thomas—play their trade in the Northeast Division. It is the division where the top starting and backup goaltenders, as a group, reside.
Let's examine who they are and how the teams in the division obtained the best goaltending in the NHL.