NHL Goalie Report for 12/16/2013

Bet at 5dimesYou’re always going to want to make sure that you have a team on your side that is going to have a goalie you can trust. These are some of the best goalies in our estimation that you are going to want to be on the lookout for in NHL betting action this year!

1: Josh Harding, Minnesota Wild – We really can’t doubt anything which Harding is doing right now. He still has one of the best records in hockey at 17-5-3, he is tied for the league lead in shutouts with three, he has the second most wins in the league with 17, he has the best GAA in hockey at 1.50, and he has the second best save percentage in the league to boot. There simply isn’t a man who is doing more to keep his team in the playoff chase than what Harding is bringing to the table. Over the course of his last five games, Harding has allowed a total of just seven goals, and he is a 4-1 record, including winning three of those games as short underdogs. There just isn’t a man better in the league to put your money on right now than Harding.

2: Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning – We’re going to keep Bishop in as the #2 goalie to back this week, knowing what he means to the Lightning. The offense has been a wreck for Tampa Bay of late, and the only thing keeping it in the playoff race is the fact that it once again has a goaltender it can count on. He had a rough go of it against the Capitals last week, allowing five goals and allowing two out of three skaters to score in a shootout, but aside from that, he has been a rock since just before Thanksgiving. Since November 22nd, Bishop has played in eight games. He only has four wins to show for his work, but he has allowed one goal or fewer six times in that stretch, including posting a pair of shutouts. Considering how badly this offense has played, Bishop deserves the nod as the #2 goalie in the league thanks to his 17-5-2 record, .933 save percentage, and 1.97 and dropping GAA.

3: Ben Scrivens, Los Angeles Kings – Never would you have thought that near the halfway point of the season, the MVP of the Kings would be Scrivens in net. G Jonathan Quick remains out with a groin problem, and all Scrivens continues to do is be one of the best goalies in the game. He is only 2-3-2 in his last seven games, but when you go back and look at it, none of it is his fault. He’s tied for the league lead in shutouts with three, and he has the most shutouts per start of any man in the league. He hasn’t allowed more than three goals in any game which he has played this year, in spite of the fact that he has faced at least 39 shots in three of his last five games. That 1.66 GAA is flat out awesome, and Scrivens has the best save percentage in the NHL at .941. When Quick comes back, Scrivens will be put back on the bench, but he’ll remain on this list for sure as one of the best net minders in the league.

4: Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins – Rask has dipped a few spots over the course of the last month, but the fact of the matter remains that he would probably be the Vezina Trophy winner if the award was handed out today. The Boston net minder has a 16-8-2 record on the season, and his .932 save percentage remains one of the best in the league. The difference between Rask and some of the other goalies we’ve listed in front of him is that, unlike these others, he is the man that is tabbed with winning games, and he gets the job done. The Bruins have one of the best teams in the league, and they are going to be heading into the playoffs as division winners. The knock on Rask is that he is always a heavy favorite, especially at home, but he has a fantastic team in front of him that can get the job done as well. Rask had a streak of four straight games with two or fewer goals allowed before conceding four to the Canucks in a game he was yanked in on Saturday.

5: Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins – A few weeks ago, we dinged Fleury for ranking 17th in the league in save percentage. He’s up to 13th now, and he has a few backup goalies in front of him which really shouldn’t be qualified to be on this list to boot. No man has more wins than Fleury does in the league with 18, and he is tied for the league lead in shutouts as well. Our big concern with the Penguins and with Fleury is that he has some injuries which have been suffered in front of him. D Kris Letang is on IR, as is D Brooks Orpik. D Robert Scuderi is out at least another two weeks or so, while C Evgeni Malkin has a leg injury that could cost him some games this week as well. That’s a lot of star power. Granted, the Pens have plenty more where that came from, and perhaps we might even get a reprieve and get some good prices on them as well. If that’s the case, we’re all the more confidence that Fleury can get the job done.

6: Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens – Our biggest gainer of the week is Price, who came from off the board last month when we addressed the best goalies in the game to one which is now sixth best in our eyes. Price has a 15-10-2 record, which doesn’t really tell the whole story of his season. His 2.00 GAA and .935 save percentage are the numbers to really look at. The veteran net minder went a stretch of 10 straight games allowing two goals or fewer before allowing four in a bad game against the Kings on December 10th, and since that point, he has allowed just two goals on 48 shots. Few have been as resilient in the face of adversity this year than Price has, as other goalies who were in good form and not getting wins as he was at the start of the year would have checked out and dropped off the face of the earth. Price has kept fighting though, and he is rightfully taking his place as one of the best 10 goalies to bet on right now.

7: Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks – The raw numbers for Crawford really aren’t all that special. He has a 2.47 GAA and a .907 save percentage, which are amongst the worst numbers of any goalie we’re going to see on this list. The biggest concern that we have is how well G Antti Raanta has been playing with both Crawford and G Nikolai Khabibulin out of the lineup. It’s proof that perhaps it’s not Crawford, but the rest of this Chicago team which is that tremendous. Regardless of whether Crawford is really that good or not, he has a history of being one of the better and more productive goalies in the league, and we expect that he is going to continue that when he is healthy again going into the new year. Even with all of this time off, Crawford is still second in the league in wins with 17, and that 17-6-3 record speaks volumes about his success in spite of his suspect numbers.

8: Antti Niemi, San Jose Sharks – Niemi doesn’t have those raw numbers you’d like to see either, especially with a .915 save percentage. He has logged three of his last five games with a save percentage of .833 or worse, and that has dinged him just a bit, but just like Crawford, the facts remain true: He has 17 wins on the season, and he has a tremendous team in front of him. The Sharks have only been beaten once at home with Niemi in net since November 7th, and that came in a shootout loss to the Islanders in a game which should have been won in regulation. It’s not always pretty, but like Crawford, it’s tough to argue with the wins that are coming, and for as long as the Sharks remain solid, Niemi remains one of the best 10 goalies to bet on in the league.

9: Jonas Gustavsson, Detroit Red Wings – Gustavsson checks in this week on the list of the Top 10 goalies to back, but we aren’t sure he is going to be capable of staying with the way his team is playing around him. The bottom line with the Wings is that they have far too many injuries to compete against the big boys, and they enter this week having scored just five goals in their last five games combined. Gustavsson has had to be in net to replace the injured G Jimmy Howard, and the truth of the matter is that he has done enough, in our eyes, to take the job on a full-time basis. Gustavsson is 8-2-2 with a 2.09 GAA and a .926 save percentage, and the only game in which he has allowed more than two goals since Thanksgiving came against the Penguins at home, and there’s never shame in all four goals to one of the best offensive teams in the league.

10: Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks – The world has been tough on Bobby Loo, and most figure that he is done being a competent goalie. However, when you look back at the numbers and remove the name, you see 16-8-5, a .921 save percentage, three shutouts, and a 2.19 GAA. On top of that, Luongo has five straight wins to his credit on the NHL betting lines, and he has posted a .976 save percentage in those five games. It doesn’t get much better than that. The Canucks still have their issues, and we know that come playoff time, Luongo and the boys are probably set to falter once again. However, that doesn’t remove the facts that these numbers warrant Luongo being a great goalie to bet on with regularity, especially while he is hot.

Adam Markowitz

is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.

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