You’re only going to go as far as your goalie takes you in the playoffs. Today, we’re looking at the first 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
Brian Elliott, St. Louis Blues: Elliott probably isn’t the most talented goalie in these playoffs, but what he does have on his side is the best defense in hockey. Head Coach Ken Hitchcock really is setting Elliott up to succeed, and there is no doubt that he is embracing that role and simply doing his job. The Blues have allowed just one goal in all three games against the Los Angeles Kings, and they are clearly going to win this series if that keeps up. This isn’t just some short term success thing either. St. Louis has held six straight teams to just one goal, and since trading for D Jay Bouwmeester and D Jordan Leopold, the team has held squads down to just 1.40 goals per game.
Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators: Anderson’s stats aren’t the best in the world right now, as he has a 2.01 GAA, but the fact of the matter is that his defense has really laid him out and left him in some awful positions over the course of the last few days against the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs have fired a whopping 114 shots at Anderson in the first three games of this series, and that really makes the net minder look a heck of a lot better. The whole story tells you that Anderson has a .949 save percentage in the second season, and when you look at it that way, there aren’t many net minders that you’d rather have on your side.
Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals: Holtby really made a name for himself last year when he went 7-3-4 in the playoffs with a 1.95 GAA in spite of the fact that he had only made 21 career appearances prior to the second season. This year, the 23-year old was the primary net minder for the Caps, and he has made it stick thus far in the playoffs. He has stood toe to toe with G Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and has looked the part of the better man. Holtby has allowed just one total goal in two games thus far, and he has stopped 59-of-60 shots to post a .983 save percentage. Of course, there is a point that Holtby is going to give up some goals in this series, but with the way that he is playing right now, there is no doubt that he is the man to watch out for in the second season.
Goalies To Fade
Whoever is in goal for the Vancouver Canucks: With apologies for the crude nature of this comment, you’re an absolute idiot, Alain Vigneault. No coach manages to do less with more in hockey than him, and he made a horrid mistake by letting G Cory Schneider sit on the bench in Games 1 and 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the San Jose Sharks. Not surprisingly, G Roberto Luongo, who has struggled to get wins in his entire playoff career, lost both of the games at home, and when Schneider was inserted, he was run after allowing five goals. The Canucks are toast, and there is no way that they are going to be able to get back on the horse.
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens: The Habs haven’t done Price any favors, but this is a man that is used to being the best goalie on the ice for the most part when he is out there. Though Anderson had the better numbers of these two net minders this year, few really thought that Price was going to get outplayed as badly as he has. Game 2 was a rock solid game for the Montreal keeper, but in the end, he has been crushed for 10 goals otherwise in the first two games of this series. We just don’t see how he is going to get off of the mat in a series which seemingly has gotten out of hand for Montreal in spite of the fact that the deficit is only two games to one.
Josh Harding, Minnesota Wild: The fact that Harding is playing in this series has to be scary in itself for Wild fans. Harding only played in five games all season long, yet he was forced into action when G Nicklas Backstrom got hurt in the pre-game skate before Game 1 of the playoffs. Harding, to his credit, hasn’t done poorly, as he does have an overtime win to his credit, and his 2.42 GAA isn’t the worst in the league by any stretch of the imagination. However, he has let in some suspect goals and hasn’t gotten a lot of help from his defenders either. We just don’t know if we want to see him on our side when we are betting on Minnesota.
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.