You’re only going to go as far as your goalie takes you in the playoffs. Today, we’re looking at the second week of NHL betting action in the postseason and analyzing which goalies have been the best and which have been the worst in the second season to help you handicap the NHL playoff odds for the second halves of all of these great series.
Goalies To Back
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings: Last week when we addressed the topic of goaltenders, Quick and the Kings were down 2-1 in their series to the Blues, and we weren’t all that sure that the defending Stanley Cup champs had any bite to them. However, over the course of his last four games, Quick has gone 4-0, and he has only allowed a total of six goals in those outings. Perhaps his biggest effort came at home in the close out Game 6 in which he stopped 21-of-22 shots, including a tremendous flurry of chances down the stretch in the third period to ensure that the men in black and silver would advance into the second round of the playoffs.
Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators: Even when the series between the Senators and the Canadiens was a close one, we warned that Anderson was a goalie that was catching some fire that you might want to back. Now, we look a whole heck of a lot smarter having done so. Not only does Anderson have the third best goals against average in the playoffs amongst goalies with more than two appearances, but he also has a .950 save percentage, tied for the best mark in the league with G Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks. Crawford probably deserves an honorable mention here, as he is not included on our list, but we still think what Anderson did in the opening round against Montreal was far more impressive than what Crawford accomplished against the lowly Wild.
Tomas Vokoun, Pittsburgh Penguins: Vokoun came off of the Pittsburgh bench to replace G Marc-Andre Fleury (more on him in a moment), and he allowed three goals in just two games against the Islanders. In that stretch, he posted a shutout and an overtime victory, and it appears as though the job is his for the time being in the Steel City. The main reason to back Vokoun is the team in front of him, as Pittsburgh probably has the best team in the NHL. However, a 1.41 GAA and a .957 save percentage in two starts is awfully impressive as well, and it definitely isn’t something to rest on.
Goalies To Fade
Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins: As promised, here’s some more about the Canadian net minder. Fleury simply looks like he has lost it at this point. He allowed six goals, three of which were incredibly weak in Game 4 against the Isles, and all of a sudden, he looks more like a chump than a man who has two Stanley Cups to his credit. If Fleury gets back his job from Vokoun, something that we think is a big time “if,” we know that we don’t want to back him until he really proves that he has the goods to stand in the pipes and face shot after shot for the full 60 minutes.
Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings: Howard faced a ridiculous offensive onslaught over the course of this opening round series against the Ducks. He deserves credit for having won four games out of seven, including three in overtime, but his numbers are simply the worst amongst undisputed starting goalies left in the playoffs. Howard has a 2.74 GAA and a .911 save percentage. Both numbers are awfully suspect for this time of year, and if they don’t improve and improve steadily in the second round, the Blackhawks are going to have a field day and probably easily romp into the Western Conference Finals.
Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins: Rask has faced 206 shots on goal over the course of the first six games of the playoffs, and he really has only had one bad game in the bunch, neither of which was in his last two. However, we are really starting to wonder about these Bruins and whether they have the makeup of a team that can win the big time game. This club floundered down the stretch of the season all year long, including losing a game against Ottawa on the final day of the regular season which would have ultimately given the team the No. 2 seed had it gotten just a single point. Now, the B’s have squandered two chances to close out the hated Maple Leafs. Rask has allowed two goals in both games, and though the fault wouldn’t belong to him if this series were to be lost, it is still damning for a man that is playing in his first full series as a postseason net minder in quite some time to ultimately blow a 3-1 series lead.
Aaron Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.