Everything is on the line when it comes to the Stanley Cup Final. Every player is chasing their dream of winning hockey's Holy Grail and will stop at nothing to get the job done. This can especially be said of the men who patrol the crease.
This year's Final features one future Hall of Fame netminder Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils against Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings, who is scripting himself quite the year and career thus far. Both of these netminders have been outstanding in this year's postseason and will definitely be one of the main reasons why their team wins the Cup when all is said and done.
With that in mind, let's take a look back at some other great goaltending battles that took place in the Stanley Cup Final in years past.
2011: Tim Thomas (Bruins) vs. Roberto Luongo (Canucks)
Last year's Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks featured two All-Star netminders, two Vezina Trophy finalists who were looking for their first Cup.
The Canucks had Roberto Luongo between the pipes. Coming into the Final, Luongo had established himself as one of the league's elite netminders. Luongo had won over 300 career games, been a four-time NHL All-Star, and had been up for numerous NHL Awards in his career.
At the other end of the ice, Thomas scripted a masterful regular season for the Bruins and was already a Vezina Trophy winner in 2009, been a three-time NHL All Star, a Roger Croizer Saving Grace winner, and the 2009 William Jennings Trophy winner.
Luongo would go on to have an extremely inconsistent Cup Final, while Thomas would go on to win the Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy as the league's most valuable player in the postseason. There was also the side story of the "pumping tires" quote from Thomas directed towards Luongo.
2001: Patrick Roy (Avalanche) vs. Martin Brodeur (Devils)
When it comes to the greatest goaltenders in the NHL, two names that will usually come up in that discussion is Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur.
The two masked men squared off in the 2001 Stanley Cup Final and came into it with already very impressive resumes. Patrick Roy had already won three Stanley Cups (1986, 1993 and 1996), two Conn Smythe Trophies, three Vezina Trophies and was the winningest goaltender in NHL history at the time.
Brodeur, who grew up idolizing Roy, also had made quite the name for himself. Brodeur had won two Cups (1995 and 2000), a Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 1994, had made five NHL All-Star Games, and two William Jennings Trophies by having the league's lowest goals against average.
The two Quebec born netminder would go at it for seven games with Roy's Colorado Avalanche claiming the Cup at the final buzzer of Game 7.
1999: Dominik Hasek (Sabres) vs. Ed Belfour (Stars)
In the 1990's there is no doubt that goaltender Dominik Hasek was the best netminder in the NHL. Hasek won Vezina Trophies in 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, and 1999, a Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player in 1997 and 1998 and the Lester B. Pearson Award as the league's most valuable player as voted by the players in 1997 and 1998.
At the other end, Stars' netminder Ed Belfour was just as good as Hasek. Belfour had already won two Vezina Trophies (1991 and 1993), a Calder Trophy as the league's rookie of the year in 1991, and had already been to a Cup Final back in 1992 with the Chicago Blackhawks.
These two All-Star netminders would battle it out in a great six game series that ended with Brett Hull's controversial Cup-winning overtime goal in Game 6.
1984: Grant Fuhr (Oilers) vs. Billy Smith (Islanders)
It was really in the 1980's that the term "money goaltender" was developed.
The two goaltenders that made this term come to life was Edmonton Oilers netminder Grant Fuhr and New York Islanders' battling goaltender Billy Smith. Coming into the 1984 Final against Smith and the Islanders, Fuhr was just coming into his own. He had already been a two-time All-Star, had gotten the Oilers to the Final in the year before (lost to the Islanders) and was looking to get his name into elite status.
His counterpart, on the other hand, had already done quite a lot in the NHL. Smith helped the Islanders to four straight Cups, won a Vezina Trophy in 1982, a Conn Smythe Trophy in 1983, was the first goalie credited with a goal in 1979, and was selected to the NHL First All-Star Team in 1982.
This time around, it would be Fuhr and the Oilers that would beat Smith and the Islanders in five games to capture their first Cup.
1971: Ken Dryden (Canadiens) vs. Tony Esposito (Blackhawks)
In the postseason, there always seems to be the recurring theme of a rookie stepping up and becoming a big-game player.
This happened in 1971 when Ken Dryden burst onto the NHL playoff scene when taking on Tony Esposito in the 1971 Stanley Cup Final. Rogie Vachon was supposed to be the starter for the Habs but the team went with Dryden. The Canadiens were rewarded for it as Dryden went on to help the team win the Cup while he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the postseason.
In the other net was Tony Esposito. In the 1969-70 season, the Blackhawks claimed Esposito off waivers from the Canadiens and in his first season with the Blackhawks, he won a Vezina Trophy, finished runner up for the Hart Trophy and was named to the NHL's First All-Star team. In 1971, besides leading his team to the Cup Final, Esposito was one of the league's top goaltenders and helped his team win the West Division en route to the Cup Final.
Dryden and the Canadiens would go on to win the Final in seven games.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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