Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

2010 NHL playoffs: Ranking the goaltenders

As we head into the 2010 NHL Playoffs, every series we break down always comes back to one thing: goaltending. Even the most offensively gifted team in the playoffs needs exceptional goaltending to get through four rounds of hockey; just ask the Pittsburgh Penguins how important Marc-Andre Fleury was to them last season.

It’s no fluke that the top nine goaltenders in the NHL are all in the playoffs.

With that in mind, here are our rankings of the starting goaltenders for each team headed into the playoffs. Well, projected starters at least. Joel Quenneville may pull a fast one on us.

Note: Rankings based on overall experience, past playoff performance and this season’s performance.

#1 - Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres

2009-10 season: 41-18-8, 5 SO, 2.22 GAA, .929 SV%

Playoff Experience: 20-14-0, 1 SO, 2.22 GAA, .922 SV%

The NHL’s best goaltender heading into the playoffs, and has proven already he is capable of carrying a team on his shoulders when it counts the most.

#2 - Ilya Bryzgalov, Phoenix Coyotes

2009-10 season: 42-20-6, 8 SO, 2.29 GAA, .920 SV%

Playoff Experience: 9-5-0, 3 SO, 2.25 GAA, 9.22 SV%

Has been a rock for the Coyotes for three seasons, and now gets the chance to leading them into the playoffs. Will get major consideration for the Vezina, after a tremendous season between the pipes.

#3 - Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils

2009-10 season: 45-25-6, 9 SO, 2.24 GAA, .916 SV%

Playoff Experience: 98-78-0, 23 SO, 1.98 GAA, .920 SV%

Arguably the best goaltender in the history of the NHL is back in the playoffs, and it’s surprising to not think he’d be at the top of this list. Despite the Devils winning the Jennings trophy, it feels as if this may be the season the great one starts to falter.

#4 - Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks

2009-10 season: 40-22-4, 4 SO, 2.57 GAA, .913 SV%

Playoff Experience: 11-11-0, 1 SO, 2.09 GAA, .930 SV%

Had a bit of an inconsistent season this year and -- for him -- some disappointing numbers. He’s still one of the best goaltenders in the NHL when he’s on top of his game; can he carry that over to the playoffs?

#5 - Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose Sharks

2009-10 season: 44-16-10, 3 SO 2.43 GAA, .922 SV%

Playoff Experience: 32-31-0, 6 SO, 2.23 GAA, .915 SV%

Nabokov had one hell of a season with the Sharks, but until he and the team prove they carry over the success to the playoffs he won’t be any higher on this list. Fair? Probably not.

#6 - Craig Anderson, Colorado Avalanche

2009-10 season: 38-25-7, 2.64 GAA, .917 SV%

Playoff Experience: None

Could this be a bit high for Anderson? Sure. But he’s the reason the Avalanche are even in the playoffs this season, and he’ll be the reason why the succeed -- or fail.

#7 - Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins

2009-10 season: 37-21-6, 1 SO, 2.65 GAA, .905 SV%

Playoff Experience: 31-18-0, 3 SO, 2.45 GAA, .908 SV%

The defending Stanley Cup winning goaltender should be a bit higher, most likely, except Fleury hasn’t exactly wowed me this season. Ha and the Penguins have been inconsistent late in the season, and have to show me they can flip the ‘on switch’.

#8 - Jose Theodore, Washington Capitals

2009-10 season: 30-7-7, 1 SO, 2.81 GAA, .911 SV%

Playoff Experience: 19-27-0, 1 SO, 2.79 GAA, .912 SV%

He’s had a great season so far, but has struggled mightily in the playoffs. It’s expected he’ll get the nod this year for the postseason, but I’m guessing he has a very short leash. Caps fans will riot if this team loses to the Canadiens.

#9 through #16 after the jump.

#9 - Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings

2009-10 season: 37-15-10.3 SO, 2.26 GAA, .924 SV%

Playoff Experience: None

It’s amazing to think that he is this high, after just one season and no experience. But he’s calm, collected and cold as ice between the pipes.

#10 - Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

2009-10 season: 32-16-5. 7 SO, 2.53 GAA, .911 SV%

Playoff Experience: None

Rinne has had a solid season with the Predators, but needs to prove himself in the playoffs. He’s been too consistent the past two season to just write him off, and it’s exciting to get to see what he can do in the postseason.

#11 - Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

2009-10 season: 22-12-5, 5 SO, 1.97 GAA, .931 SV%

Playoff Experience: None

A very small sample size, but some incredible numbers and success this season. Can he carry an undermanned Boston team past the first round, though?

#12 - Jaroslav Halak, Montreal Canadiens

2009-10 season: 26-13-5, 5 SO, 2.40 GAA, .924 SV%

Playoff Experience: 0-1-0, 0 SO, 1.85 GAA, .906 SV%

A lack of experience keeps him low on the list, but that’s not to say he doesn’t have the chance to do something special in the postseason. He’ll have to be otherworldly, however, against the Capitals

#13 - Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

2009-10 season: 39-34-7, 4 SO, 2.54 GAA, .907 SV%

Playoff Experience: None

I’m worried that Quick won’t have the energy left to continue to carry the Kings after the season, as he’s was relied heavily upon during the season just to get to the playoffs.

#14 - Anti Niemi, Chicago Blackhawks

2009-10 season: 26-7-4, 7 SO, 2.25 GAA, .912 SV%

Playoff Experience: None

Prove to me you can get it done in the playoffs.

#15 - Brian Elliott, Ottawa Senators

2009-10 season: 29-18-4, 5 SO, 2.57 GAA, .909 SV %

Playoff Experience: None

He’s been good down the stretch, and he’ll have to be even better now that it really counts.

#16 - Brian Boucher, Philadelphia Flyers

2009-10 season: 9-18-3, 1 SO, 2.76 GAA, .899 SV%

Playoff Experience: 11-8-0, 1 SO, 2.06 GAA, .916 SV%

He has not started a playoff game since 2002, and has not started more than twice in a playoff series since 2000. Can he continue to work his magic for the Flyers?