Goaltending is a very important part of a team’s success in the playoffs. A goaltender’s play can easily make or break how a playoff series plays out. The National Hockey League has a number of very good goalies, but who would you choose if you had your pick? After taking a look at the current sixteen goalies that are starting for their teams in this years playoffs, here is my top five:
5 - Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins
It was difficult not picking him number one after winning the Stanley Cup last season, but that goes to show the quality of the goalies left in the playoffs. Thomas has been very solid again this season, playing 59 games and winning 35 of them. The season did not start as well as expected, but the play of the Bruins turned around, and so did the play of Thomas. The very unorthodox style that Thomas plays opens himself up to the chance of being inconsistent or streaky. He is a clutch performer who gets into the game and shows his intensity. The more he gets fired up or aggravated, the better he plays.
4 - Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
I am a firm believer that the performance of Lundqvist will determine the success of the Rangers in this year’s playoffs. He had a great regular season this year posting an impressive 39 wins in 62 games. He also saved 93% of the shots he faced, the highest success rate of his career. The Rangers had a much better season defensively, allowing the fewest goals in the Eastern Conference, and the play of Lundqvist had a great deal to do with this. The biggest knock on Lundqvist is the lack of success that he has had in the playoffs.
3 - Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators
If there was one goalie to build a team around, I think I would choose the 6 foot 5 Rinne. I did not think that he could play better that he did last season, but he did. This year he won 43 games, which is ten more that last year. He is calm in the net, and his size basically fills up the whole net. The Finnish goalie quietly gets the job done, and will definitely give the Predators a chance to go deep in this years playoffs.
2 - Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
This may be a little risky to put Quick so high up on this list. Although after watching him this season I have noticed how calm, and in control he has been. I like his style in the net, he plays his angles very well, and has also showed great control with his rebounds. His 1.95 goals against average this season is his career best. Even when the Kings were in a tail spin this year Quick was solid. His lack of playoff success, and inexperience does scare me, but I would feel real comfortable with him in net for the playoffs this season.
1 - Jaroslav Halak, St. Louis Blues
When I look back at the trade that sent Halak to St. Louis from Montreal, I shake my head. This was truly the start of the Montreal Canadiens free-fall. Halak is a proven performer, that showed that again this year. After splitting time with goalie teammate Brian Elliott, Halak was still able to rack up 26 wins in 46 games. He also earned six shutouts in the 46 games. This guy can win a series single handedly, he has proven this before. In 2010 he lead the Canadiens to the Eastern Conference finals. I would build my team around this guy, and would love to have him in net for the playoffs.
It is not always easy to narrow these selections down. This is who I would want in net for the playoffs this season, and not necessarily who I would build a team around. I also can think of a couple of goalies not in the playoffs that would be in the running for this. Let me know your know your thoughts. Enjoy the playoffs, it is a great time of year.