We took a stab at the 2013 current slumping goalies - don’t worry, we aren’t complete A-holes – which leads us to our 2013 top goalies. It was a difficult list to make, because as you may already know, there are a ton of goalies playing with surprise this season.
Some goalies are the sole reason why their teams are even in playoff contention and other goalies are just going along for the ride as they are getting stellar defense in front of them.
With that being said, it’s safe to say none of our top 8 slumping goalies made it on our 2013 top goalies list.
Hope you enjoy the list and be sure to take our poll at the bottom!
1. Tuukka Rask – Boston Bruins
Some might say Rask had big shoes to fill this season, replacing Tim Thomas, but Rask has had a history of replacing Tim Thomas. In both the seasons following Thomas’ Vezina winning campaign’s Rask took the job from him while Thomas was still on the team.
Any worries before the season about Rask’s ability as a starter have been stomped out by Tuukka’s stellar play. Rask’s .930 Save percentage, 1.89 GAA, and 10-1-2 record are jaw dropping. And, if you take out one bad game against the Sabres, Rask would have a .942 save percentage, 1.55 GAA, and an undefeated record. Pretty amazing.
2. Craig Anderson – Ottawa Senators
There is no arguing with Anderson’s stats. He leads in Save percentage (.952%) and GAA (1.49). His turn around from somewhat mediocre goalie waiting to be replaced by the younger players behind him to a leading Vezina candidate is one of the biggest surprises of the season.
The only reason he comes in at number 2 is partly because of his injury and partially because his back up, Ben Bishop, has played equally well in Anderson’s absence. Is it just the system?
Maybe, maybe not, but there is no denying Anderson has been one of the best goalies in the league this season.
3. Pekka Rinne – Nashville Predators
Rinne has been the only player keeping that team a float during some pretty tough times. While he doesn’t lead in Save percentage (.926%) or GAA (1.90) he does lead in shut outs with 3 and means more to his team than almost any goalie in the league.
4. Carey Price – Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens have been one of the most surprising teams this season; going from worst to first in the East.
What’s not surprising is the Habs getting world class goal-tending from Carey Price. With a .925 save percentage and a 1.90 GAA are some of the best in the league.
Whether Montreal can keep up their surprisingly strong play is going to be one of the stories for the remainder of the season, but they will definitely having strong goal-tending through the rest of the regular season and beyond.
5. Antti Niemi – San Jose Sharks
They have only content consistent play from one player and that’s Antti Niemi.
Niemi’s .930 save percentage and 1.95 GAA are arguably better than a couple players on the list. But while Nashville and Montreal have stayed well within the playoff picture, San Jose’s stock has been dropping like a rock. It’s not Niemi’s fault, the Sharks inability to score has lead to a lot of 1-0 or 2-1 losses, but I couldn’t put him ahead of goalies keeping their teams in the win column.
6. Viktor Fasth – Anaheim Ducks
Fasth was brought in to back up Jonas Hiller but following Hiller’s struggles (he really hasn’t been the same player since suffering from vertigo earlier last season) and Fasth’s own outstanding play have lead to Viktor taking over the starting job.
Whether Fasth can keep up his great play for the rest of the season is the big question. But even if he can’t keep up his game-breaking play he shouldn’t have any trouble keeping Anaheim in the playoffs.
7. Kari Lehtonen – Dallas Stars
It may be a little silly to say a player is one of the best “right now” when he hasn’t played in nearly two weeks but Lehtonen has proved to be one of the top goalies in the league this season.
His .934 save percentage and 2.12 GAA are great numbers but his really telling stat is his record. Lehtonen is 7-2-1 which is pretty good, but without Lehtonen in the line up Dallas’ record is only 3-6-1.
Lehtonen is the only reason that team even has a chance at the playoffs and is the only goalie in the league more important to his team than Pekka Rinne.
8. Corey Crawford/Ray Emery – Chicago Blackhawks
This one is kind of a cheat, but both of these goalies have played very well on an incredible team. There is an old saying that says “if you have two starting goalies you have no starting goalies” but like the Blues last season Chicago is excelling with two number one goalies. If either or both keep their play up the Blackhawks could have a great seasons. (I want to point out how brave I am for saying that a team which has yet to lose in regulation will have a “great season”).
I used the word “surprising” a lot in this article because a lot of goalies this season have had unexpected success. But equally as surprising are the goalies who have had unexpected struggles.
Henrik Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick have both had terrible starts and have left the Rangers and Kings currently on the outside of the playoff bubble. Mike Smith who was the best goalie in the second half of last season has had a slow start, Ryan Miller has Buffalo sitting with the second worst record in the league, and Jimmy Howard bares little resemblance to the All-Star he was last season.
In fact if there was an All-Star game this season only 1 (Carey Price) of the 12 goalies who have participated in the last three All-Star games would even be in the All-Star discussion.
Surprising season indeed.
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