Power Ranking the Goalies in the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs so Far

Lyle Richardson@@SpectorsHockeyFeatured ColumnistApril 25, 2016

Power Ranking the Goalies in the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs so Far

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    In the Stanley Cup playoffs, goaltending often means the difference between success and failure for NHL teams. With the opening round of the 2016 postseason nearly completed, it's time to rank the efforts of the 22 netminders who've seen action thus far. 

    Several of the goaltenders in this ranking, such as Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning (pictured above), were key factors in helping their clubs advance to the second round. Others, such as New York Rangers starter Henrik Lundqvist, had a first round they'd rather forget. 

    Performance, minutes played and the impact of their efforts upon their respective clubs factored into this ranking. As always, you can express your views in the comments section below. 

22-17: Steve Mason-Antti Niemi

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    22. Steve Mason, Philadelphia Flyers: The Washington Capitals lit up Mason (pictured above) like a Christmas tree. He gave up 12 goals in three games, posting a playoff-worst .852 save percentage before giving way to Michal Neuvirth.

    21. Antti Raanta, New York Rangers: Relieved an injured Henrik Lundqvist in Game 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He also replaced the struggling King Henrik in Games 4 and 5, but could do little to prevent his club's first-round elimination. 

    20. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings: Following a poor Game 2 performance against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Howard was replaced by Petr Mrazek for the rest of the series. He finished with a bloated 3.59 goals-against average.

    19. John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks: The 22-year-old continues to struggle in playoff action. After dropping the opening two games against the Nashville Predators, Gibson made way for Frederik Andersen. 

    18. Jeff Zatkoff, Pittsburgh Penguins: Zatkoff surprised NHL fans with a convincing win in Game 1 against the New York Rangers. But after giving up four goals in Game 2, he became Matt Murray's backup for the remainder of the series.  

    17. Antti Niemi, Dallas Stars: Replaced Kari Lehtonen in Game 4 against the Minnesota Wild and backstopped the Stars to a 3-2 win. After giving up 5 goals on 24 shots in Game 5, he returned to backup status in Game 6.

16-11: Henrik Lundqvist-Kari Lehtonen

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    16. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers: Sidelined in Game 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins by an eye injury, Lundqvist played well in the next two games. His uncharacteristically bad performances in the next two games finished the Rangers, leaving King Henrik with a playoff-worst 4.39 goals-against average.

    15. Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild: He wasn't the only reason the Wild fell to the Dallas Stars in six games, but Dubnyk didn't help matters. His 3.34 goals-against average and .877 save percentage aren't the type of numbers sported by playoff winners.

    14. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings: The usually reliable Quick had a forgettable series against the San Jose Sharks, winning only once in five games. His .886 save percentage ranks among the worst of the 2016 playoffs. 

    13: Kari Lehtonen, Dallas Stars: Consistency was an issue for Lehtonen against the Minnesota Wild. After playing well in the opening two games, he gave up four goals in a Game 3 loss. Returning between the pipes in Game 6, he allowed four goals in a nail-biting 5-4 series clincher.

    12: Petr Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings: Mrazek was called in to replace Jimmy Howard as the Wings' starter following Game 2 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was superb in the next three games.  However, his third-period miscue behind his own net in Game 5 led to the Wings' elimination. 

    11: Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators: Rinne posted a .931 save percentage in carrying the Predators to a 2-0 series lead over the Anaheim Ducks. His steadily declining performance over the next three games, however, helped push the Predators to the brink of elimination. 

10. Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    The Chicago Blackhawks rallied from a 3-1 series deficit against the St. Louis Blues to force a seventh and deciding game in their opening-round matchup. Though the Hawks were ultimately eliminated, goaltender Corey Crawford played a significant part in that comeback. 

    Heading into Game 7, you wouldn't find Crawford's 2.46 goals-against average and .911 save percentage among the top 10 netminders. The 31-year-old had his struggles in this series. However, when the Blackhawks needed him most, Crawford came up with a big save or a strong period to give his teammates a chance to win.

    A prime example was Crawford's performance in Game 6. After giving up three first-period goals, he slammed the door on the Blues. The Blackhawks rallied to win 6-3, setting the stage for the crucial seventh game.

9. Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers

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    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    The New York Islanders needed six hard-fought games to eliminate the Florida Panthers. Veteran goaltender Roberto Luongo was among the reasons the Panthers were such a tough opponent. 

    The 37-year-old Luongo showed his age at times, particularly during the Panthers' losses in Games 1 and 3. In the other four games, however, he gave up only six goals. In consecutive double-overtime 2-1 losses in Games 5 and 6, he fought off fatigue and turned aside a combined total of 89 shots. 

    Luongo finished the 2016 playoffs with a 2.05 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage. Even in defeat, that was a solid effort. It's good enough to put Bobby Lu among the top-10 goalies of the opening round. 

8. Brian Elliott, St. Louis Blues

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    The St. Louis Blues needed the full seven games to oust the Chicago Blackhawks. Goaltender Brian Elliott was a key factor in why they got that far. He was among the playoffs' busiest goalies, facing a playoff-leading 254 shots.

    In the first four games against the Blackhawks, the 31-year-old Elliott was superb. He had a 35-save shutout effort in Game 1. His save percentage never went below .929 as he helped the Blues gain a 3-1 series lead. 

    Elliott subsequently struggled in Games 5 and 6, contributing to the Blues facing a Game 7 scenario. He came big in the finale (31 saves, .939 save percentage) to help his club eliminate the defending Stanley Cup champions. 

7. Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    In the opening round of the 2014 playoffs, goaltender Martin Jones was the Los Angeles Kings' backup as they overcame a 3-0 series deficit to knock out the San Jose Sharks in seven games. This year, he helped the Sharks avenge that humiliation by backstopping them to a five-game elimination of the Kings. 

    This was the 26-year-old Jones' first NHL series in the starter's role. At times his inexperience showed, particularly in Games 1 and 5. However, he shrugged off the pressure and come through with a solid effort. Jones finished with a 2.18 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.

    Those numbers pale in comparison to others on this list. Nevertheless, his play helped the Sharks achieve a cathartic first-round triumph over the club that embarrassed them two years ago. That's worthy of top-10 recognition.

6. Frederik Andersen, Anaheim Ducks

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    The Anaheim Ducks turned to Frederik Andersen after John Gibson struggled against the Nashville Predators in the first two games of their opening-round series. The move helped change the momentum of the series, as the Ducks rolled to three straight wins. 

    Andersen's steadying influence played a significant part in the Ducks' turnaround. He was stellar in his three appearances, including a 3-0 shutout in Game 3. The 26-year-old's 1.00 goals-against average and .966 save percentage put him near the top of the playoff leaderboard

    Should the Ducks complete the comeback and oust the Predators, Gibson better get used to backup duty. Andersen will be a lock for the starter's job in the second round. 

5. Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Pittsburgh Penguins backup goaltender Matt Murray showed considerable promise filling in for sidelined starter Marc-Andre Fleury in 13 regular-season games. His three-game opening-round performance against the New York Rangers indicated he had little difficulty adjusting to playoff pressure. 

    Returning from injury into a series tied at a game apiece, the 21-year-old's efforts were a big factor in the Penguins' march to victory. His best effort was a 31-save shutout in Game 4. After giving up two first-period goals in Game 5, he ultimately made 38 saves in a 6-3 series-clinching win. 

    Murray emerged from the series with a 1.33 goals-against average and a sparkling .955 save percentage. Those numbers place him among the top five goalies thus far. His play buys more time for Fleury to recover from concussion symptoms. It also suggests the kid is closer to becoming a full-time starter. 

4. Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Ben Bishop's stellar goaltending played a substantial role in the Tampa Bay Lightning's five-game ouster of the Detroit Red Wings. Though the Wings peppered the 6'7", 216-pounder with 160 shots, he allowed only eight goals and shut them out in the series-clinching fifth game. 

    With a 1.61 goals-against average and .950 save percentage, the 28-year-old Bishop is perched among the top 10 goaltenders. His worst save percentage through the series was .929 in Game 4. 

    Backstopping the Lightning to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, Bishop finished with a 2.18 GAA and a .921 SP with three shutouts. His play against the Wings, however, suggests he's in better form this year. 

3. Michal Neuvirth, Philadelphia Flyers

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    On the brink of elimination in their series against the Washington Capitals, the Philadelphia Flyers turned to backup Michal Neuvirth. Over the next three games, he was outstanding. He finished the series leading all playoff goalies with a 0.67 goals-against average and a .981 save percentage.

    Thanks to Neuvirth's heroics, the Flyers rallied with a 2-1 win in Game 4. He flat-out stole Game 5, turning aside 44 shots in a 2-0 shutout. The 28-year-old couldn't be faulted for his club's series-ending defeat in Game 6, giving up only one goal on 29 shots. 

    Considering an injury limited Neuvirth to just one start in a month leading up to this series, his performance was remarkable. Had he played in every game against the Capitals, perhaps the outcome would've been different.

2. Thomas Greiss, New York Islanders

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    Alan Diaz/Associated Press

    With starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak sidelined for the series against the Florida Panthers, the New York Islanders turned to backup Thomas Greiss. With only one NHL playoff game under his belt entering this series, the 30-year-old's inexperience could have worked against him. Instead, Greiss played with the poise of a postseason veteran.

    After giving up four goals in a 6-4 opening-game win, he gave up two goals or fewer in four of the next five games. He was outstanding in the Islanders' 2-1 double-overtime victories in Games 5 and 6. The highlight was a game-changing penalty-shot save on Panthers center Aleksander Barkov in the first overtime of Game 5. 

    Thanks to Greiss' efforts, the Islanders won their first playoff series since 1993. He finished the series with a 1.79 goals-against average and .944 save percentage, placing him among the top goalies in the opening round. 

1. Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby had a regular season worthy of a Vezina Trophy nomination. He was no less dominant in the Capitals' opening-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers. The 26-year-old gave up only five goals in those six games, two of them shutout victories. 

    With a 0.84 goals-against average and .968 save percentage, Holtby is among the top five netminders in both categories. After the Capitals lost Games 4 and 5, his steady presence and unflappable nature carried them to a series-clinching 1-0 win in Game 6.   

    Entering this series, Holtby already had a reputation as a strong playoff goaltender. The performance against the Flyers only enhanced his credentials. Having Holtby at his best bodes well for the Capitals' championship hopes this spring. 

    Player stats via NHL.com.


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