Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning Discuss Toughest Goalies in the NHL
We often wonder who is the toughest goaltender to face in the NHL.
We can look at the stats: who has the lowest GAA and the highest save percentage, which was the Boston Bruins' Tim Thomas in both categories last year.
We can look at wins, which the Montreal Canadiens' Carey Price had the most in 2010-11.
We could also look at most shutouts, a category that New York Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist led last season.
Or we could ask players for their opinion, since they're the ones whose opinion truly means something.
I had the opportunity to talk to three members of the Tampa Bay Lightning to find out their opinions on the matter.
Here's who Ryan Malone, Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos chose as the toughest goaltenders in the NHL.
Ryan Malone: Dwayne Roloson
Ryan Malone's first choice was his teammate, Tampa Bay Lightning starting goaltender Dwayne Roloson.
"Dwayne Roloson is definitely one. I’m glad he plays on our side," he said.
He should be glad he doesn't have to face Roloson.
After all, in 34 regular season games with the Lightning last year, Roloson went 18-12-4, with a GAA of 2.59, save percentage of .912 and four shutouts.
It was during the playoffs though that Roloson was truly magnificent. In 17 playoff games, Roloson went 10-6, with a GAA of 2.51 and save percentage of .924.
Roloson seems poised for another big year in net for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Ryan Malone: Marc-Andre Fleury
The other goaltender Ryan Malone chose was former teammate, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
"(He) is pretty acrobatic. I think he’s the one I have the hardest time scoring on right now," he said.
During the 2010-11 regular season, the Tampa Bay Lightning evenly split their four games against the Pittsburgh Penguins, going 2-2.
In those four games against the Lightning, Fleury posted a GAA of 2.02 and a save percentage of .922.
The two teams faced each other in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, a series which Fleury began with a shutout.
Eventually, the Lightning got the better of Fleury and the Penguins in seven games, but it is a new year and Fleury will continue to be a tough goalie to face.
Vincent Lecavalier: Carey Price
Other than teammate Dwayne Roloson, the first goaltender that Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier chose was Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens.
"He’s starting to become one of the top five best in the league," he said.
During the 2010-11 regular season, Carey Price led the league in wins, going 38-28-6.
During the playoffs, Price was second in league standings with his GAA of 2.11 and save percentage of .934.
In the four-game season series, each team earned two wins apiece. Price went 2-1-1, posting a GAA of 2.98 and save percentage of .920.
As Price gets more experience, he'll be even tougher to face in the future.
Vincent Lecavalier: Tomas Vokoun
"In the past few years, he’s played very well against us," Lecavalier said.
Last year, Vokoun played three of the six games against the Lightning, going 2-0-1. In those three games, Vokoun posted a GAA of 1.26, save percentage of .954 and had one shutout.
After years of being dominated by the Capitals in the regular season, last season the Lightning took two of the six games in the season series from the Capitals, shutting them out in both victories.
In the playoffs, the Lightning swept Washington. Now that Vokoun plays for Washington, that could impact how the Lightning fare against Washington this season.
"He’s a great goalie; he’ll definitely help their team," Lecavalier said.
The Lightning will face Vokoun and Washington almost immediately this season, heading to Washington to take on the Capitals on October 10 for their third game of the season.
Steven Stamkos: Tim Thomas
Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos has already scored 119 goals in his three-year NHL career, with 96 of those goals coming in the past two years.
It seems like it would be easy for the 2010 Rocket Richard co-winner to get past most goaltenders, but Stamkos could think of a few goalies he finds difficult to face.
The first was the Boston Bruins' Tim Thomas.
"You’ll think you have an empty net and he’ll come across," Stamkos said. "He never gives up on plays; he’s a competitor. We saw that first hand in the playoffs last year."
Stamkos certainly isn't alone in finding Thomas a tough opponent; after all, Thomas led the league's goaltenders in GAA and save percentage last season, posting a GAA of 2.00 and save percentage of .938 as he led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup.
In the 2010-11 regular season, Thomas played in three of the four games in the series against Tampa and won all three with a GAA of 1.67 and save percentage of .950.
In the playoffs the two teams faced each other in the Eastern Conference finals, with Thomas and the Bruins getting the best of the Lightning in the seven-game series.
The 2011 Vezina Trophy winner will probably continue to be one of the most difficult goaltending opponents this season as well.
Steven Stamkos: Martin Brodeur
After Tim Thomas, Steven Stamkos said one of the toughest goaltenders to face is still New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur.
"You got Marty Brodeur, who’s obviously a veteran, but he still makes some saves that kind of make you wonder," Stamkos said.
The NHL's all-time wins leader and all-time leader in shutouts stats speak for themselves.
He hasn't posted a save percentage less than .900 since his rookie season in 1991-92 and hasn't posted a GAA more than 3.00 since then either.
In the four games the two teams played last season, Brodeur started in three and recorded the win each time, posting a GAA of 2.00 and save percentage of .929.
Like Stamkos alluded, even though Brodeur is nearing the end of his career, he can still be a dominant goaltender.
That, along with his experience, makes Brodeur still one of the toughest goaltenders to face in the league.
Steven Stamkos: Roberto Luongo and Miikka Kiprusoff
Being in the Eastern Conference, Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning only play one game per season against each Western Conference team, which can be good when they don't have to face the West's toughest goaltenders often.
"We don’t get to see the guys out West too often, but you got (Roberto) Luongo and (Miikka) Kiprusoff," Stamkos said.
The Lightning didn't face Luongo last season, instead facing Cory Schneider, but Luongo was one of the most dominant goaltenders during the regular season with a GAA of 2.11 and save percentage of .929.
The Lightning were one game away from facing Luongo and the Canucks in the Stanley Cup finals, which would have been another difficult series and tough goaltending to go up against.
Tampa did face Kiprusoff and the Calgary Flames last season and Kiprusoff got the best of them, only allowing two goals and posting a save percentage of .917.
While they don't face each other often, that can make it even more difficult to get the best of these goaltenders, something that could come up if they face either team and goaltender in the Stanley Cup finals.
Steven Stamkos: Henrik Lundqvist
Another tough goaltender that Stamkos and the Lightning face four times a year is the New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
"He’s pretty solid; I have a tough time beating him," Stamkos said.
Well, Stamkos can't feel too bad about that, because he's certainly not alone.
Last season, Lundqvist posted a GAA of 2.28 and save percentage of .923. He also led the league in shutouts with 11.
The Lightning beat the Rangers in all four games of last year's season series against the Rangers, but two of those wins came in overtime and Lundqvist still posted a GAA under 3.00.
With a changed roster, the Rangers are expected to do well this season, which mean the Lightning could face them in the playoffs. Even though he and the Rangers couldn't best the Washington Capitals, Lundqvist still posted a GAA of 2.25 and save percentage of .917.
He's definitely a tough goaltender to face.