Top five goalies of the decade: King Henrik Lundqvist reigns

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. (Ben Margot/AP)

How do you weigh and compare the best goalies over the past 10 years?

No one goalie dominated the end of season awards for a prolonged time, the decade leader in wins never won the Vezina, and the best playoff performer of the 2010s wasn’t as glowing in the regular season. There were nearly 10 goalies worthy of consideration for a top five spot, with little space between most of them.

But in trying to parse out the best goalies over a 10-year period, we feel some level of consistency must be rewarded. Raw totals matter, but so do awards for outstanding achievement and some level of post-season success — whether team or individual. No one goalie scores perfect in all of these areas, but these five stood out the most for recognition.

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1. Henrik Lundqvist
Although the Rangers haven’t won a Stanley Cup with Lundqvist in net, he was the picture of consistency and excellence for most of the 2010s. Lundqvist finished six consecutive seasons with a .920 save percentage or better, and won the Vezina in 2011-12 with a career high .929 save rate.

Lundqvist’s 254 wins rank second-most in the decade, his 39 shutouts are second-most and his high danger save percentage is fifth. Lundqvist also has three of the top 11 playoff performances by save percentage among goalies who played at least 15 games, and led the Rangers to three conference finals in four years, including a Stanley Cup Final. But perhaps most impressive is Lundqvist’s 154.55 goals saved above average (GSAA), per Corsicahockey.com, which is far and away the best — about 64 more than the No. 2-ranked goalie.

2. Sergei Bobrovsky
Starting the decade as an undrafted free agent find by Philadelphia out of Russia, Bobrovsky leaves the 2010s as the only NHL netminder with multiple Vezina Trophy wins. Measuring by traditional stats, Bobrovsky stands up, ranking sixth in wins (268), tied for ninth in save percentage (.918) and 15th in GAA (2.50) while facing the fifth-most shots on net.

His underlying numbers stand the test of time, too. Bobrovsky finished the decade with the second-best high danger save percentage (.815) and third-ranked GSAA (88.84). The main knock against Bobrovsky has been his post-season play, where he was mostly awful until last spring. But in his final post-season of the decade, Bobrovsky earned his and Columbus’ first series win, sweeping the heavily favoured Lightning while posting a .932 save percentage.

3. Carey Price
Though Price’s standing in the “world’s best goalie” debate has taken a hit recently, he was a leading candidate for it through a large chunk of the decade. He finished with a top five league save percentage four times and was within the top five in Vezina voting four times, including winning it in 2014-15. His performance that season was so strong, in fact, that he became the first goalie in more than a decade to also win the Hart Trophy as league MVP.

Only one other goalie faced more shots than Price in the 2010s, and he ranked fourth in wins (277), save percentage (.919) and shutouts (41). Although the Canadiens have moved beyond the first round of the playoffs just twice — reaching the conference final once — in the past 10 years, Price has posted an impressive .922 post-season save percentage.

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4. Jonathan Quick
Don’t let these past two seasons let you forget that Quick seemed like one of the most unbeatable netminders in his prime years this decade. Though only finishing with a .920 or better save percentage twice, Quick comes out seventh in wins (258), second in shutouts (43) and third in GAA (2.36) among goalies with at least 200 games, winning the William Jennings Trophy twice.

But his real forte was the post-season. Quick won the Conn Smythe in Los Angeles’ first Stanley Cup victory, and he was just as important to their second win two years later. Only three goalies had more playoff wins, four had lower post-season GAAs and only one had more playoff shutouts than Quick.

5. Marc-Andre Fleury
Credit is due to the goalie with the most wins of the decade. Though it hasn’t always been a smooth ride for Fleury, unlike the other four goalies on this list, he didn’t miss the playoffs once and his teams moved past the first round five times. The most impressive part of Fleury’s decade, however, is how he’s ended it while moving into his 30s. The only two seasons in the 2010s that Fleury finished with a .920 or better save percentage have been in the past five years. His teams also went to three straight Stanley Cup finals, though Fleury himself didn’t play a significant role in the first one, as Matt Murray took over in Pittsburgh.

Of course, Fleury ended up in Vegas through the expansion draft, then led the Golden Knights to the final in their first season with a performance of historical proportions through three rounds. He and the team couldn’t keep it up to give Fleury his third straight Cup win, however, and first as the starter since 2009. Fleury also finished the 2010s third in regular season shutouts (42), and led all netminders with 11 playoff shutouts.

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