NHL Power Rankings: Goalies Gone Wild Edition

Look back at some of the best saves from the past week including a couple fantastic sprawling saves from Anaheim's John Gibson and Montreal's Carey Price.

With the races at both the top and bottom of the NHL standings tightening during the home stretch, things have gotten mighty interesting. (Buffalo GM Tim Murray’s memo to new goalie Anders Lindback: Stop winning, will ya?)

There is still plenty of time for juggling amongst the playoff matchups, but already we’ve seen some coaches speak out on the competition.

Anaheim bench boss Bruce Boudreau said of the charging L.A. Kings this week, “We hope they don’t make it.” And the recent lights-out play of Jonathan Quick has to be part of the reason for his comment.

Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice called the St. Louis Blues — our new No. 1 — “the best team in the league.” The Blues should finish top-five in goals against for the fourth consecutive season.

And last month Washington’s Barry Trotz named Montreal’s brick wall, Carey Price, the best player in the NHL.

Point is, goaltending matters — no more so than heading into the playoffs — and this season has been filled with some wonderful stories between the pipes.

Hence, the NHL Power Rankings: Goalies Gone Wild Edition.

Rank Team
1

Brian Elliott broke the Blues’ franchise mark for shutouts Tuesday with his 21st and was the rare NHLer who jumped at the chance to fill in at the All-Star Game. Still more trusted than Jake Allen, but like the rest of the team, he’s reached a point where he’ll be judged on playoff results alone.

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2

Scott Darling, who won the backup job from Antti Raanta (partly due to his cap-friendly contract), has a .936 save percentage and just shutout the red-hot Rangers Wednesday. If Corey Crawford goes down or gets shaky, it won’t faze the ‘Hawks.

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3

Among goalies with at least 20 games played, place-holder Cam Talbot ranks fourth in save percentage with .928 — a better mark than Henrik Lundqvist’s .922. Imagine what the Rangers could get for their superb backup in an off-season trade.

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4

Frederik Andersen was solid to start the season, but rookie John Gibson has picked up the torch. In his last seven outings, he’s backstopped the Ducks to big wins over Montreal, Minnesota, Nashville, Dallas and L.A. twice.

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5

Ben Bishop gets more “run support” than any other goaltender in the league and should post back-to-back 35-win seasons. Can’t wait to see that glow-in-the-dark mask light up the post-season.

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6

Barry Trotz, P.K. Subban, Steven Stamkos… a lot of “best player in the league” endorsements for Carey Price, whose grip on the Vezina is so tight, many are thinking Hart. Leads all in wins, GAA and save percentage. Second only to Marc-Andre Fleury in shutouts.

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7

What is it about Minnesota goalies? Last year, Josh Harding was arguably the best tale of perseverance and excellence in the NHL; this year, it’s Devan Dubnyk and his top-three .928 save percentage. Not saying he’s the only reason, but you can pinpoint the Wild’s turnaround to the date of the Dubnyk trade.

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8

Jonathan Quick has a record of 13-3-2 in his last 18 games with three shutouts. The dude is doing his part to play in spring. Meanwhile, backup Martin Jones is the new Jonathan Bernier; he turns RFA this summer.

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9

Andrew Hammond is not only the proud owner of a free-McDonald’s-for-life card, he became just the second goaltender in NHL history to allow no more than two goals in each of his first 12 career starts (Bruins’ Frank Brimsek, 1938).

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10

No goaltender has seen more action than Braden Holtby (62 games). He’s been fantastic (.924 save percentage), but you gotta think fatigue will play a factor eventually here. He’s on pace to play 74 games, something no goalie has done since 2010-11 (Cam Ward).

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11

The 2014 Vezina champ is rounding into form at the perfect time. Tuukka Rask has won four of six and allowed more than two goals just twice in his last 11. Be afraid.

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12

Eddie Lack has been such a champ in relief since fancy free-agent acquisition Ryan Miller went down with a knee injury, we make see the Swede start Game 1 of the playoffs for Vancouver. The Canucks’ crease: Never boring.

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13

Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury has enjoyed an excellent season (NHL-high nine shutouts), but backup Thomas Greiss — who looked fantastic last year with Arizona but has just eight wins in 18 appearances — has been just OK. There isn’t the built-for-playoffs depth here that existed when Tomas Vokoun was around.

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14

“Pekka Rinne is [bleeping] me right now in fantasy,” confided a friend. Yes, the probable Vezina finalist is second only to Carey Price in wins with 37, but he’s lost 10 of his last 13.

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15

Once rookie Michael Hutchinson started slipping, the Jets went back to Ondrej Pavelec, who came up with crucial back-to-back-to-back W’s over Tampa Bay, San Jose and St. Louis, posting a .955 save percentage in those games. Shaky in February, Pavelec has been fantastic in March.

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16

Bubble team Calgary has been given solid support by Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo. The latter is free agent who could walk in light of third-stringer Joni Ortio’s brilliant five-game appearance mid-season.

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17

A very average season for Red Wings No. 1 Jimmy Howard, who has lost for of five and posted save percentages in the .800s while taking those L’s. Petr Mrazek (14-6-1) has been a solid second option here.

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18

Jaroslav Halak has been a great addition (34 wins already), but the Islanders’ offence has died up of late: four consecutive games in which they’ve managed just a single goal.

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19

Semyon Varlamov, surely not to blame for the Avs’ fall from excellence, has quietly had a decent season: .923 save percentage, five shutouts. Even quieter? The nice job by seldom-used 22-year-old back Calvin Pickard: .932 save percentage in 13 starts. Could make Team Young Guns in the 2016 World Cup.

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20

Dallas’s go-to, Kari Lehtonen, hasn’t put up numbers this bad since, well, ever. Though far from atrocious, injuries and heavy use appear to be exacting a toll on the 31-year-old No. 1. And backup Jhonas Enroth (1-5-0, .873) was doing better in Buffalo.

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21

The brilliant marketing stroke of the Panthers to hold a tryout for their emergency backup this week helped soften the blow of Roberto Luongo’s injury. But Lu is back and winning.

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22

The Sharks’ goaltending is okay but unspectacular. A prediction: San Jose misses the playoffs, ending a 10-season streak; Antti Niemi signs elsewhere as a free agent; and the Sharks acquire another goalie (Dubnyk? Talbot? Anderson? Lehner?) to compete with Alex Stalock.

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23

When healthy, Steve Mason gives great value (.925 save percentage behind a so-so defence). But backups Ray Emery (unlikely to be re-signed when he turns UFA this summer) and Rob Zepp have failed to deliver.

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24

Goalie Bob has won four of his last five starts and still turning in quality effort despite the Blue Jackets’ lost season.

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25

With the Devils a non-factor in the post-season race, the stellar work of Cory Schneider goes unsung. Despite playing the second-most games, the guy has the second-best save percentage but the third-worst offence in front of him.

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26

Yes, the Hurricanes aren’t a good hockey team, but many — myself included — thought this would be the year Anton Khudobin seized a starting role. Give Cam Ward credit for not going out without a fight.

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27

The poor Oilers’ inability to start a dependable No. 1 netminder for the duration of a season has long passed comical. With Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth saving less than 90 percent of the shots they face, expect more turnover at the position this summer.

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28

This is pretty incredible, kinda like Dubnyk on a smaller scale with no playoff implications. Anders Lindback’s save percentage as a Dallas Star: .875. Lindback’s save percentage as a Sabre: .934.

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29

Rough western swing for Jonathan Bernier, whose negotiating power keeps dwindling. The Oilers scored four goals in the first 11 minutes of a game versus the Leafs for the first time in franchise history. There is an excuse: He is playing behind “a junior team” (his words).

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30

Andrew Hammond has as more wins (12) than Mike Smith (11) this season despite playing in 38 fewer games. This is all you need to know.

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*Stats pilfered with love from NHL.com and SN Stats.