Every year I get asked the same question: If I had one game where I had to put everything on the line, who would be my goalie?
Well, mine would be Patrick Roy, but he’s long been retired and I’m not sure he can even touch his toes anymore.
So that begs the next question: who are the top three current goaltenders I want playing for my team. There are a lot of good NHL goalies, but for me these three guys have the ability to carry a team while handling the gruelling mental grind of the two month-long Stanley Cup playoffs.
These three can best handle the ups and downs of the roller coaster that every series presents.
3. Henrik Lundqvist
Find me a better and more consistent goalie over the past 10 years than The King. He’s been to a Stanley Cup Final and plays a competent style that night after night allows him to play well and be competitive.
He has one of the best goalie coaches in the NHL in Benoit Allaire, and not a lot phases him. His Olympic gold medal shows that he has the ability to win a one-game, winner-take-all competition, which in a Game 7, comes in handy.
2. Corey Crawford
Here’s a goalie that doesn’t get a lot of respect for what he does, which is win. During last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, in which he lost the starting job in the first round to Scott Darling, he didn’t crumble like a lot of goalies would have. Instead he got pissed off, dug in and never let Darling get the net back.
In the semi-finals against Anaheim, when Freddy Andersen couldn’t mentally keep it together, Crawford closed the door on his way to his second Stanley Cup. Not bad for a guy that rarely gets any credit on an offensive team that gives up its fair share of scoring chances.
1. Jonathan Quick
In the opening round of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, the San Jose Sharks had the Los Angeles Kings on the ropes and down 3-0 in the series. Nothing changed except for the play of Jonathan Quick, who just decided that San Jose wasn’t going to score on him anymore. It was an amazing display of goaltending for the next four games that I had never seen before.
When a player can win a series all by himself and change the course of a game or series with just their own particular play, that’s a special player. Quick has two Stanley Cups and a Conn Smythe Trophy (2012) in his back pocket. His Gumby-like style makes him unpredictable in his save selection, which keeps the shooters guessing.
So there you have it, these are the goalies I would want on my team going into this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. They all have one thing in common; they are mentally tough as nails.
Each has their own particular style, but all have the ability to change a series by themselves. If I’m one of their teammates, I feel pretty good looking back at my net knowing there’s a rock back there, one that’s been down that road, and has done it before.