The NHL awards are coming up in June and the Stanley Cup playoffs are into the final four. You might say that the NHL is still in the “Goaltender Era” where scoring is down (or at least not where it should be) and it is not uncommon to see a 2-1 or 1-0 win. Ah the goaltender, the last line of defense in hockey. As a kid collecting hockey cards, how many of you always treasured your goalie cards? There is something about goaltenders that everyone seems to be intrigued by.
The thing is the goaltender, not unlike a quarterback in football can steal or win a game by themselves. A team can ride a hot goaltender into the playoffs and go deep. Why do you think so many goalies have won the Conn Smythe trophy as the leagues playoff MVP? The goalies are dominating the game. So let’s take a quick look at the leagues top goaltenders, the masked men who face 100 mph slapshots, crowded creases and are the last line of defense in hockey.
Top 10 NHL Goalies for 2012
- Johnathan Quick – Los Angeles Kings. Be Quick or be dead. The Kings were one of the lowest scoring teams during the regular season, yet have been nearly unbeatable in the post season. Johnathan Quick lead all goaltenders with 10 shutouts during the regular season. Translated that means Quick did not let in a goal one in every seven games that he played. Unbelievable. He faced nearly 1,900 shots and had a save percentage of .929%. There is a reason that Johnathan Quick is our pick to win the Vezina trophy as the league’s best goaltender.
- Henrik Lundqvist – New York Rangers. Thirty nine wins a .930 save percentage and game seven victories over Ottawa and Washington. King Henrik continues to shine in the Big Apple. Is there anything this man can’t do?
- Pekka Rinne – Nashville Predators. Playing in 73 of 84 regular season games for the Preds, Rinne faced nearly 2,200 shots and still had a save percentage of .923. He also chipped in five assists to lead all goaltenders.
- Mike Smith – Phoenix Coyotes. Left for dead, placed on waivers Smith started the season in Phoenix not knowing what to expect. 2,066 saves and 8 regular season shutouts later, Smith has the Phoenix Coyotes in the NHL’s final four for the first time in the team’s history.
- Roberto Luongo – Vancouver Canucks. This guy needs out of Vancouver. Luongo would excel on a team like the Oilers, where his 31 wins in 55 games would be welcomed. Some mishaps in last year’s final against the Bruins aside, Luongo is still one of the best in the game.
- Carey Price – Montreal Canadiens. Price has a tough gig in Montreal but has dealt nicely with the pressure that goes along playing in Montreal. He’s only 24 and is just entering his prime. On any other team Price would have 35-40 wins per year every year.
- Martin Brodeur – New Jersey Devils. The winningest goalie in the history of the NHL continues to shine in this spring’s playoffs. ‘Nuff said.
- Tim Thomas – Boston Bruins. Personal opinion aside Thomas’ quirky style saw him compile another 35 wins for the Bruins this season. Thomas was the reason the Bruins won the Stanley Cup last year.
- Brian Elliott – St. Louis Blues. Nine shutouts in 38 game. A league leading .940 save percentage. What more could you ask?
- Miikka Kiprusoff – Calgary Flames. Kipper played in 70 games won 35 of them and had a respectible .921 save percentage. Not bad for a veteran who faced over 2,000 shots this season.