Want some fuel for the “Goaltending is less predictable than the weather” bluster?
One month into the season, the Vezina finalists from last year ranked 13th (winner Igor Shesterkin), 23rd (runner-up Jacob Markstrom) and 24th (third-place Juuse Saros) in save percentage.
And Martin Jones was ahead of them all.
Saros has really picked it up since then, Shesterkin is hanging in and Markstrom just seems to be having a year from hell.
But, as we all know, things can change quickly in the crease. With that in mind, hurry up and read this power ranking that offers insight into the goaltending story for all 32 teams this season.
1. Boston Bruins (21-3-1) Linus Ullmark is unbeaten at home (9-0-0), leads the league in wins (15) and has a better goals-against average (1.82) and save percentage (.939) than any goalie who’s played 10 games. Next question, please.
2. New Jersey Devils (21-4-1) If we told you before the season that a Devils goalie would be having a fantastic year, you’d probably have bet on it being a Mackenzie Blackwood bounce-back. Nope. UFA signing Vitek Vanecek has been a revelation. Wipe away an 0-2-0 start and Vanecek is 12-1-1 with a .932 save percentage.
3. Toronto Maple Leafs (16-5-5) Nobody is going to do backflips until this team wins a playoff round, but it’s fair to say the early returns on GM Kyle Dubas’ new battery of Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov are as good as any Buds supporter could have hoped.
4. Vegas Golden Knights (19-8-1) Logan Thompson is firmly in the Calder Trophy race thanks to his strong performance in Year 1 of being an NHL No. 1.
5. Carolina Hurricanes (14-6-6) Frederik Andersen has been out for a month and isn’t expected back until at least next week. Antti Raanta has an .886 save percentage in his past seven appearances. Enter Pyotr Kochetkov, who’s been doing a solid job holding the fort in Carolina.
6. Winnipeg Jets (16-7-1) Connor Hellebuyck has the second-best five-on-five save percentage in the league. He’s recaptured his Vezina form from three years ago.
7. Seattle Kraken (15-7-3) Martin Jones has faltered recently, so the team needs Philipp Grubauer to get into a groove after returning from a lower-body injury a couple weeks back.
8. Tampa Bay Lighting (15-9-1) Andrei Vasilevskiy is well into the realm where, even when he’s got a pedestrian .909 save percentage, his name always leads the “best goalie in the world” debate.
9. Dallas Stars (14-7-5) Jake Oettinger, before leaving an Oct. 29 game versus the Rangers with a lower-body injury: 5-1-0, .960 save percentage. Jake Oettinger since returning on Nov. 11: 4-2-3, .895 save percentage.
10. Pittsburgh Penguins (14-8-4) Tristan Jarry has been fantastic in his past eight starts (7-0-1, .943) and his .919 save percentage overall is exactly what he posted last season when he finished seventh in Vezina voting. Casey DeSmith has been a very capable backup.
11. Detroit Red Wings (13-7-5) Ville Husso’s .913 five-on-five high-danger save percentage is the best mark in the league.
12. Edmonton Oilers (15-12-0) Who knows how things play out with the struggling Jack Campbell, but it’s Stuart Skinner’s net right now — and the 24-year-old is likely in the rookie-of-the-year conversation with Thompson, too.
13. New York Islanders (16-11-0) The Islanders are the only team with two goalies who boast a save percentage above .920. In fact, only two other teams have two guys above .910 and at least five games played (the Devils with Vanecek and Akira Schmid; the Leafs with Murray and Samsonov). Ilya Sorokin is squarely in the Vezina conversation and Semyon Varlamov will probably do just fine if he makes it to the open market this summer, even considering he’ll be 35 by then.
14. Colorado Avalanche (13-10-1) The defending champs have had a tough go this year, largely because of the injury bug. That said, new guy Alexandar Georgiev has given them everything they could have hoped for. His five-on-five numbers basically rival any goalie in the league.
15. Calgary Flames (13-10-3) Jacob Markstrom has just not been himself this season. Luckily, Dan “Darth” Vladar has stepped up of late.
16. Los Angeles Kings (14-10-4) Goaltending — and the lack thereof — has been the story of the season in L.A., where the Kings waived Cal Peterson last week before sending him to the AHL. There’s a hard (and fairly low) cap on where this team can go if it can’t get this sorted.
17. Nashville Predators (12-9-2) He started slow, but Juuse Saros has been rounding into form for nearly a month and has a .930 save percentage in his past seven outings.
18. Minnesota Wild (13-10-2) Other than the Los Angeles Kings, you could make a case no playoff/playoff bubble team has received less from their goalies than the Wild.
19. New York Rangers (13-10-5) Igor Shesterkin led the league in save percentage last season; this season he ranks 21st. It’s worth noting — as many have — average Shesterkin is still a guy you want, and watch out if he gets his groove back.
20. Florida Panthers (12-10-4) Though he was yanked in his most recent outing, it seems like it’s Spencer Knight’s net now. Can he run with it?
21. Washington Capitals (12-12-4) The Caps cleared the crease in the summer and while nobody is standing on his head exactly, Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren have been an upgrade on Vanecek and Samsonov. That said, those other guys are thriving in their new homes.
22. Vancouver Canucks (12-12-3) Since Thatcher Demko went down, the Canucks have scored 16 goals in three games and given up 13. Neither trend can last. Spencer Martin and Collin Delia will have to kick a few more pucks out for this team to survive the month or so Demko is out.
23. Montreal Canadiens (13-11-2) This is one where the vibe kind of doesn’t match the stats. Both Jake Allen and Sam Montembeault have had signature performances in Habs wins, yet overall Montreal has the third-worst five-on-five save percentage in the league. To be fair, those goalies are often playing behind three or four rookie defencemen.
24. Buffalo Sabres (12-13-1) Craig Anderson, 41, has done everything Buffalo could realistically have asked for. Eric Comrie was struggling before he went down with an injury and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen hasn’t looked great in the recent run he’s received. The crease may be the last piece of the puzzle Buffalo needs to figure out.
25. St. Louis Blues (12-14-0) A few days back, coach Craig Berube was telling Jordan Binnington to cool it with the hot-head stuff and just stop the puck. That’s about all you need to know right now. At this point, we can say when Binnington is dialed in, he’s solid. When he’s not …
26. Ottawa Senators (10-14-1) Cam Talbot and Anton Forsberg have been just fine; no more, no less.
27. Philadelphia Flyers (9-13-5) Carter Hart’s stats have cratered along with his team’s results. Give the guy a break, though; Philly’s underlying numbers are pretty gruesome.
28. San Jose Sharks (8-16-5) San Jose is one of only two teams — along with Chicago — to use four goalies this season. James Reimer, who’s dinged up, is a trade candidate.
29. Arizona Coyotes (7-13-4) Karel Vejmelka is doing all he can to keep the Yotes in games.
30. Anaheim Ducks (7-17-3) He doesn’t get much help, but John Gibson hasn’t had a save percentage over .904 since 2018-19. He’s at .897 this season.
31. Columbus Blue Jackets (8-15-2) After allowing nine versus Buffalo on Wednesday night, the Blue Jackets officially have the worst five-on-five save percentage (.893) in the NHL.
32. Chicago Blackhawks (7-14-4) Having your top two goalies — Petr Mrazek and Alex Stalock — out with injuries isn’t the worst thing in the world when you’re gunning for a No. 1 draft pick. Arvid Soderblom is going to see his share of rubber in the coming days and weeks.