Guest Author - Kevin Thorburn
Which goalies make up the elite in the National Hockey League? This article will explain who comprise the top ten currently in the league and why they deserve this esteem.
One – Martin Brodeur – While he has been injured most of this season, he still represents the best in the league. He epitomizes consistency, refusing to have a bad season over his long career. Listing his accomplishments would take more space than this article will allow. Basically, any team with Brodeur between the pipes has at least an outside shot at a championship providing they make the playoffs.
Two – Roberto Luongo – Even playing with the inconsistent Vancouver Canucks has not harmed Luongo’s statistics considerably. In the prime of his career he is an exceptional goaltender to build a team around. It was no stunt that made the Canucks choose him as team captain, as he is the team’s leader and they triumph or crash depending upon his play.
Three – Carey Price – Price is the future superstar of the league. The Montreal Canadiens know what they have and are the envy of the league to have such a goalie to not only build for the future, but make the future now.
Four – Evgeni Nabokov – The San Jose Sharks are counting on a championship and with a healthy Nabokov in goal, they have to feel confident. He is cool and consistent and provides that stability every team yearns for at this position.
Five – Henrik Lundqvist – This stellar net minder with the New York Rangers is a workhorse and is counted upon to keep his team in the game each night. Still under-rated, it is difficult not to wonder what accolades he would receive behind a defence such as the Detroit Red Wings sport.
Six – Miikka Kiprusoff – Another workhorse, Kipper has shown some inconsistencies this season, but remains a tried and true backstop on a team and with a coach that demands perfection.
Seven – Marc-Andre Fleury – On a team that could, and should, become a dynasty, Fleury has already taken a lot of heat in his short career. Playing in such a spotlight does not seem to have hindered his ability as long as he is healthy. Fleury is a goalie a team can build around, but the only unfortunate thing for the Pittsburgh Penguins is that they need someone that can provide experience and stability for the young stars on the team.
Eight – Jean-Sebastien Giguere – There is no question that Giguere has struggled this season, but although this may cause the Anaheim Ducks some concern, they should not be too worried about his playoff play since he performs his best when the pressure is really on.
Nine – Steve Mason – Mason has outshone all his rivals this season and has virtually come out of nowhere to become one of the best in the league. The best goaltenders are not always spectacular or first round draft picks and he is making certain everyone knows this.
Ten – Pascal Leclaire – Surprised? Given his performance last year, you shouldn’t be. It is quite an enviable position the Columbus Blue Jackets are in with two young, budding superstar goalies. Without Leclaire’s injuries this season, Mason would not have had the opportunity to show his skills. Leclaire is somewhat reminiscent of Fleury in that he doesn’t have the experience he needs around him to garner him the respect he deserves. Of course, his NHL career has been overshadowed by his inability to remain healthy.