You’re only going to go as far as your goalie takes you in the playoffs. Today, we’re looking at the third 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 rest of these great series.
Goalies To Back
Tomas Vokoun, Pittsburgh Penguins: We don’t really believe that Vokoun is going to be able to keep this up for the whole postseason, but in his first five games in net for the Pens, he is 4-0-1, and if not for a total breakdown by his defense, he would be 5-0 with two shutouts. Vokoun has been amazing in net, stopping shot after shot, especially in this series against the Senators. He has the second best GAA of any goalie that has played at least 100 minutes in the playoffs at 1.61, and he has a .949 save percentage, which is easily the best of the bunch that are still playing. Of course, Vokoun is helped out dramatically by the best offense in hockey, though that was tested in Game 3 versus Ottawa when Pittsburgh only gave him a goal of support. Still, just the fact that Vokoun nearly made that goal stand up was impressive in its own right.
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings: Could there be a second straight Conn Smythe Trophy going to Quick? If the Kings ultimately win the Stanley Cup, it would be really tough to argue with that fact. The net minder for LA has been out of this world at times, going 6-1-2 with a .947 save percentage and a 1.60 GAA on a team that hasn’t done a whole heck of a lot offensively in these playoffs. Quick has posted a pair of shutouts, including the shutout that opened Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals against San Jose. This is a man that when he gets going, is one of the elite net minders in the league, and he is proving it again versus the Sharks.
Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings: The holistic numbers for Howard in the postseason aren’t all that remarkable, but his numbers over the course of the last two games have been outstanding. Howard was particularly sharp in Game 3 against the Blackhawks, stopping 39-of-40 shots that he faced. He also stopped 19-of-20 in a Game 2 win on the road in the Windy City. Howard now has 19 career playoff wins under his belt, and he still has the ability to carry this team on his shoulders. There are probably better goalies, but there aren’t many that have the ability to catch fire the way that Howard does, and we’re wondering if he only is just getting started.
Goalies To Fade
Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers: It’s really tough to complain about the work that Lundqvist has put in, but we have to complain about someone, and this is the man that we are going to do so about. The Swedish goalie still only has three overtime wins to his credit in the postseason in 13 games that have gone to the extra frame, and it almost seems like the tighter games get in these playoffs, the worse shape that he is in. Granted, the shutout in Game 7 against Washington was a thing of beauty, especially knowing that the game was played on the road, but so far in this series against Boston, the Rangers’ goalie has been nowhere to be found. In Game 2 in Beantown, the wheels absolutely just came off for Lundqvist, and the Bruins netted five goals.
Antti Niemi, San Jose Sharks: Niemi did get the win in overtime in Game 3 against the Kings, but we just don’t know if we totally trust him at the moment. He has only had one game since Game 1 of the playoffs against the Canucks in which he had better than a .935 save percentage, and that came in Game 3 against LA. In the middle, he allowed at least two goals in all five games, and though it isn’t a humongous sin to allow just two goals in a playoff game, the deeper you go into the playoffs, the more those goals seem more and more difficult to get. The Sharks are going to need better play out of Niemi, especially going against Quick and the Kings.
Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks: Again, it’s a little tough to nitpick against a guy who did post a 1.94 GAA in the regular season and has done better than that in the playoffs, but we are starting to become at least a little bit worried about Crawford. He has allowed seven goals combined in his last two games, getting the loss in both outings against the Red Wings. Now, those questions are starting to creep into the backs of people’s minds whether Crawford really has the goods to win a Stanley Cup, knowing that he really doesn’t seem to have the pedigree of a championship goalie. We’re going to find out over the course of these next several days against the Red Wings, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the Presidents Trophy holders are on their way out of the playoffs because of the play of their net minder.
Andrew 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.