You’re only going to go as far as your goalie takes you in the playoffs. Today, we’re looking at the fourth 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
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings: Quick just feels like he is a factory out there. Each and every night, you know if you’re playing against LA, you’re going to need a heck of a lot of help. Quick only has one win on the road thus far in the playoffs, and that could be a bad sign if this team makes the Western Conference Finals, but going into a Game 7, is there any other goalie that you’d rather have than this one? Quick has the best save percentage (.947) and the best GAA (1.54) in the postseason, and in a lot of cases, it really isn’t all that close. Right now, Quick is the best goaltender that hockey has to offer.
Antti Niemi, San Jose Sharks: It’s a bloody shame that either Quick or Niemi has to get bounced out of this postseason in the second round. These two goalies have both been remarkable, particularly on their home ice here in this series and in these playoffs. Niemi has led his team to a 5-0 mark at HP Pavilion this year, but his task in the end is going to be to win a Game 7 at Staples Center, an incredibly difficult task. Still, Niemi hasn’t had to face more than 31 shots in a game this entire series, and he has only had one game, a lousy Game 2, in which he allowed more than two goals. To think that either of these teams is going to get beyond two goals in Game 7 of this series is almost ludicrous, and whichever goalie gets to the Western Conference Finals is going to be the one that we want to play night in and night out in all likelihood.
Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks: Crawford had a couple rough games in the middle of this series against the Red Wings, but he’s back to being a dominating net minder once again. Crawford has stopped 96.2 percent of his shots over the course of the last two games, going 25-of-26 in each effort. It is going to take a huge effort to get Crawford past the Red Wings, knowing that he is going to have had to claw out of a 3-1 series deficit to get the job done, but any time you have a goalie with a 1.66 GAA for the playoffs, you have a chance, especially when you’ve got a team as strong as the Blackhawks are from top to bottom.
Goalies To Fade
Tomas Vokoun, Pittsburgh Penguins: We still really don’t trust Vokoun, and this is the second time that we are putting him in the “Goalies to Fade” category. Vokoun really hasn’t had a great game since Game 3 against the Senators, and he has allowed at least two goals in four straight and five out of six since taking over as the team’s starting goalie. The good news for Pittsburgh is that it has the offense to get the job done to protect him. If you want proof of that, look no further than the 13 goals that the team scored in the final two games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals to advance without all that much hassle. The tasks though, are only going to get harder for Vokoun as the rest of this postseason wears on. There are still eight more games that have to be won to win the Stanley Cup.
Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins: We have to put some goalies here in the “fade” category whether he really want to fade them or not, and Rask is one of those guys. Remember that this is the first postseason in which he has started that he was expected to really make a huge run here in the playoffs. Rask has done okay at this point, but he has the second lowest save percentage and the second lowest GAA of any of the goalies that are still standing at this point. Now, he comes across his most difficult task of taking on the Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals. If you couldn’t tell based upon these last two goalies that we listed, we aren’t all that keen to back either one of these men right now. ‘Over’ might be the word in this series.
Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings: We love you, Howard, but man! You have to be a heck of a lot more consistent than this in order to make us a goalie we want to back in the playoffs. Over the course of three games in the middle of the Western Conference Semifinals, Howard allowed just a total of two goals. He has allowed eight goals in Games 1 and 5 against the Blackhawks. Granted, there is no shame about allowing that many goals to a team that has one of the best offenses in hockey, but this is a continuing theme. Howard has now allowed at least four goals four times here in the playoffs, and for 12 games, that just isn’t good enough.
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.