A few days ago, Rogers Sportsnet had an intermission feature where the panelists ranked their top eight goalies who’ll participate in the Western Conference playoffs. The results were interesting, and I’ve decided to do the same thing for both conferences…
Eastern Conference 1. Ryan Miller, BUF… The Vezina favorite has been solid in two career postseasons, and was dynamite at the Olympics. 2. Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT… ‘Flower’ has 30 playoff wins in the last two years (tops in the league), and now has a Cup on his resume. 3. Martin Brodeur, NJ… There’s no denying Brodeur’s playoff struggles in the last few years. But I have a feeling this year will be different. 4. Henrik Lundqvist, NYR… If the Rangers sneak in, I don’t think anyone wants to face ‘King Henrik’ – when he’s on. 5. Jaroslav Halak, MTL… Halak has only made a couple cameo appearances in the playoffs, but has been dominant at times for Montreal. 6. Tuukka Rask, BOS… Rask is only 23, but leads the league in GAA and save percentage. Would that success carry over to the playoffs? 7. Brian Elliott, OTT… Like his team in front of him, Elliott is fairly streaky. But he possesses the skills to steal games. 8. Jose Theodore, WSH… Theodore is awfully fragile. He can look great and abysmal in the same game, and there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to hold onto that #1 spot. 9. Brian Boucher, PHI… Given the Flyers’ goalie troubles this year, they’ll probably be an early exit with Boucher between the pipes.
Western Conference 1. Roberto Luongo, VAN… Ranked number one by default, but will have to prove it if the Canucks wish to be the last ones standing. 2. Ilya Bryzgalov, PHX… ‘Bryz’ will be a Vezina finalist, and played well in limited playoff appearances with Anaheim. 3. Pekka Rinne, NSH… Nashville’s sophomore stand-out has turned it on since the Olympics, and will thrive in a playoff setting. 4. Evgeni Nabokov, SJ… ‘Nabby’ has yet to silence his critics as he’s let in costly/untimely goals in his postseason career. 5. Jimmy Howard, DET… The Calder candidate has been clutch all year for the Wings, filling in for playoff vet Chris Osgood. 6. Jonathan Quick, LA… Quick hasn’t played as well lately, but can steal games when he’s on top of his game. 7. Antti Niemi, CHI… The Finnish youngster has taken the reins as the #1 in Chicago, but is untested in the playoffs. 8. Craig Anderson, COL… Like most on this list, Anderson has never played in the playoffs. He’s also running out of gas in his first year as a starter.
How would you rank this year's playoff netminders??
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