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Does your team need a star goalie?

Does your team need a star goalie?

Remember not to far back when if a team had the great puck stopper tending your cage you were favored to go a long way in the playoffs. With the likes of Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur, Ken Dryden, Dom Hasek, Ed Belfour, Terry Sawchuk and even Grant Fuhr to name a few goaltenders that you could count on to steal a series let alone just one playoff game? In this era, is it me or has the game of hockey completely gone in a different direction? Let’s use this year’s goaltenders for an example and try your best to pick a goaltender you have 100% confidence in, that can give you solid netminding to help your team win a Stanley Cup.

For me there is only one goaltender I would have complete 100% confidence in, going into the playoffs and that is Ryan Miller, but even with Ryan if you go back to 2006/2007 he was really not that stellar, although a huge difference depends on the team you are playing with for obvious reasons such as a defensive trapping style, that New Jersey or Nashville plays currently.

Let’s take a look at this year’s playoff goaltenders.

Ryan Miller – MVP type year and has had only 1 or 2 bad games the entire season. I have no issues hanging my hopes on this guy.

Martin Brodeur- Arguably one of the best goaltenders of all time. Has shown signs of aging, of course, and has not been stellar in previous playoff series in the past few years. Has won 4 Vezina trophies since the 2002/2003 season, but once again it’s his playoff performances.

Brian Elliott – Young and unproven, but how else is he supposed to prove to people he can play without actually playing? This goes for a lot for other young goaltenders in this year’s playoffs.

Marc-Andre Fleury- He was stellar last year, but this regular season he has been mediocre, Heck, he even made me lose my fantasy league he was so bad, and in Game 1 of this year’s playoffs against Ottawa he was horrific.

Brian Boucher- Has been up and down since replacing Ray Emery, and lost his job for a bit to Michael Leighton.

Pekka Rinne- Has been quite good, but once again, the youth factor.

Antii Niemi- See above, and also plays for a puck possession team. Even Huet had a good GAA and winning Percentage!

Jimmy Howard- A seasoned AHL goaltender who stepped in and took the reigns from one of the best “playoff goaltenders”. Once again, he is a rookie so we shall see…

Ilya Bryzgalov- MVP type year, does not have a ton of playoff exposure but was solid in the first game against Detroit this year.

Craig Anderson- Had a great year, but does he have what it takes to bring the Avs to the promised land?

Evgeni Nabokov- Always has a good regular season, but hey so do the San Jose Sharks! Nabby has been criticized for past poor playoff performances.

Tukka Rask- Yet another rookie stealing the reigns from last year’s Vezina winner.

Jaroslav Halak- Promising young goaltender that stole the show from Carey Price, so far so good.

Jose Theodore- Has probably been the best goaltender since the Olympic break, but do you want him as your goalie moving forward?

Jonathan Quick- His last name speaks for itself, the kid is fast and has some great games. Can he take you to the Cup though?

Roberto Luongo- Another one of the much talked about goaltenders, argued by many as the current best in the league and during the Olympics proved he can be stellar. However, he has been pulled in multiple games this year perhaps more than anyone and that’s playing for an excellent team. Also, look back to last years playoffs where he was close to awful.

So with the above 16 goaltenders how much confidence does one have in any of these guys? Has goaltending quality dropped or are we going through a time where the older goaltenders are diminishing away and seemingly a youth movement is occurring? In most cases every year there are 1 or 2 newcomer netminders that arrive, but looking at this year there are at least 10 goalies with limited or no playoff experience at all, and many questions on the goaltenders who do have past experience.

The old motto used to be “you build your team from the net out“.  Not too sure that is true anymore, simply because some teams can not do that because of the lack of quality goaltenders in their system such as Chicago, Ottawa and Philadelphia. Look at the Edmonton Oilers who are in full rebuilding mode. They have an aging Khabibulin and a couple of decent young goaltenders in the system but can they build off of those guys? Most certainly not! They need to build around guys like Hall/Seguin, or Gagner etc. simply because they have no choice. Chicago is a prime example of building a team around players with the likes of Kane, Toews, Keith and Seabrook through years of strong draft selections, Tampa is similar as they have a team of superstars up front with average goaltending, but have yet to find any success even after many years of great draft positions.

The final questions are: Has the NHL changed from building from the net out and headed towards team depth instead and can a team win with an average goaltender and a great team up front? The hack on many teams this year has been “they can’t win as they have no goaltending!” Yet that team has solid forwards and defensemen. Buffalo and New Jersey have great goaltenders but the depth of the squads is questionable so they play a tight system. Chicago, Washington, and San Jose (for example) have excellent depth up front, but questionable goaltenders.

It will be an interesting playoffs this year to see who is right and who is wrong about having to have a star netminder to win the playoffs. I am leaning towards the people who say team depth is more important, because really there are not a lot of “star” goaltenders out there. Will we see the next Roy or Brodeur come a long in the likes of Jack Campbell in a few years or current goaltenders right now or has the game changed so much that the goaltending position is not as big a factor as it used to be.

It will be an exciting ride I guarantee that.

Thanks for reading,


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An all around sports fan and has been a Chicago BlackHawks supporter longer then he can remember. Currently writes for Prosportsblogging.com on the Blackhawks and NHLHotstove.com on the Edmonton Oilers. (If you would like to email feel free to contact Trent at TKONHOCKEY@gmail.com )

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In response to “Does your team need a star goalie?”

  1. Shane Hoopfer Apr 16 20101:06 pm


    Wow. I was thinking about writing something similar. Must be that goalie wave length thing.

    if you look at the top 4 in each conference how many ‘elite’ goaltenders so you see? Miller is obvious and maybe Bryzgalov.

    i think the difference in today’s game as opposed to 10-20-30 years ago is the drop off from elite to good is not as dramatic as it once was.

    The biggest reason for that is the equipment. take a look at goaltenders in the 80′s to today standing in their nets. Even with the ‘reduction’ of equipment today the goaltenders are still huge.

    1. Trent Kondo Apr 16 20101:13 pm


      I think you should still write something up, i would enjoy reading it. It’s a very interesting situation on what has been trending over the years with goaltenders.

      You are so right about the equipment, look at Luongo who is tall but thin yet he looks like he about 350lbs in his equipment and then compare it to the Andy Moog era what have you and the skimpy little pads and shoulder pads they used to use.

  2. Ben Petrino Apr 16 20101:11 pm


    Jimmy Howard has been a godsend for the Wings but in past years you have Osgood, who is just okay, bringing them deep into the playoffs. It really matters what type of game you play. There are some goalies who thrive on the shots again, like Miller. I would say most goalies would like to get a moderate amount of work it, not get too pressured, and will make really solid stops. Yes, Washington’s goal situation isn’t great in Theodore, but healthy Varlomov is more than just an average goaltender. He proved that he could really play last year in the playoffs and would be the everyday starter this year of healthy.

    You’re so right about teams building off of offense because that is their only choice, but I think it’s also reflective of the organizations. Philly hasn’t had a superstar goaltender to mind for them. Also, there are teams who are drafting great young goaltending that needs to develop. You mentioned Quick, but the Kings have Bernier, who I’ve never seen play, is supposed to be some special. In general, teams work with what they’ve got and not having a superstar goaltender isn’t a problem for teams, just it’s good to have superstars at all positions if you want to be a winner.

  3. Shane Hoopfer Apr 16 20101:18 pm


    Varlamov is a better than average goaltender????

    Maybe in the KHL.

    1. Eric Cooney Apr 16 20102:12 pm


      I honestly don’t think we’ve seen enough of the guy to make an assessment either way yet. He could establish himself as a 1A keeper in the NHL, but I don’t think he’s won that title yet.

      1. Shane Hoopfer Apr 16 20102:26 pm


        I agree but calling him a top 15 goaltender in the NHL (better than average) is insane.

        1. Eric Cooney Apr 16 20103:20 pm


          I will agree with that. I would take these guys before him, in no particular order:

          Miller, Brodeur, Luongo, Nabakov, Kiprusoff, Lundqvist, Backstrom, Vokoun, Bryzgalov, Ward, Fleury, Rinne, Quick, Hiller, Anderson, Rask, Thomas, Halak. Hell, I’d even take Jonathan Bernier first, but I guess I’m biased.

          1. Trent Kondo Apr 16 20103:41 pm

            @ Eric, what about poor little Niemi :( lol

            Maybe if the Hawks make a huge run then Niemi may be put into some lists. That is if he stays our guy throughout the playoffs.

          2. Dan Rakusan Apr 16 20103:48 pm

            Brodeur no longer belongs on the A-list, in my opinion.

          3. Eric Cooney Apr 16 20103:51 pm

            I keep Brodeur in there due to his regular season, but his past few playoffs/the olympics have me questioning it as well. If I were writing that list in an order, he wouldn’t be #2. Because he’s been playing like a #2, and I don’t mean a backup…

        2. Dan Rakusan Apr 16 20103:44 pm


          I wouldn’t say he’s top 15, but Varlamov is also young and has better than average ability. I think you guys are taking the comment out of context…

          1. Eric Cooney Apr 16 20103:49 pm

            Oh no, I wasn’t trying to say anything about Varlamov, just a kind of side convo about who I would take if you were to ask me who I would want to be in net right here, right now. I totally think Varly will be a strong goalie, just isn’t quite there yet.

            @ Trent, I would put Niemi in there too, but I’ll reserve judgment until after the playoffs :)

            It will be interesting to see who the new guys are over the next couple of years with some goaltenders getting up there in years…

  4. Kevin Thurston Apr 16 20102:18 pm


    Varlamov is WAY too young to be written off. Funny, because the same thing has happened with Price in Canada. Price is still sucking his thumb as an NHL goalie and Montreal, being the wise sages of hockey they are, have all but chased him out of town.

    When Varlamov is 25+ he will start building a career as a premier netminder in this league.

    1. Dan Rakusan Apr 16 20103:47 pm


      Agreed. He could, of course, also regress and become a flop, like Vesa Toskala, but the reality is that he is a very highly skilled goalie. Same goes for Neuvirth in the Caps’ system. It’s hard to gauge the value of a goalie if he isn’t playing regularly, so I reserve judgement until the time where we can see Varly play more than a few games in a row. Goalie prime age is between 25-30, but only materializes into something of significance if the goalie is given a chance to “strut his stuff” on a regular basis.

  5. Trent Kondo Apr 16 20104:48 pm


    @ Dan I keep Brodeur on my A list still, arguments can be made that there are some better goaltenders but not many at this time. Tons of up and comers.

    I think my top 5 right now would be
    1) Miller
    2) Lundqvist
    3) Luongo
    4) Brodeur
    5) Bryzgalov
    Of course once can debate reasons for any of them not to be there. Such as Bryzgalov who really has done nothing prior to this year.

    @Eric, yes that is the safest way is to wait for judgment after the playoffs with Niemi and all of the other youngsters lol. I will do the same.

    1. Shane Hoopfer Apr 16 20104:53 pm


      Kiprusoff #2 He was a Vezina candidate this year if the Flames didn’t absolutely stink.

    2. Dan Rakusan Apr 16 20104:53 pm


      My top 5 would be:
      1- Lundqvist
      2- Backstrom
      3- Vokoun
      4- Rinne
      5- Miller

      I know it seems ridiculous, but I factor in teams who have lousy defence and not much support.

      1. Trent Kondo Apr 16 20105:02 pm


        @Shane yea I was thinking Kipper too couldn’t decide between him and Ilya but of course everyone’s picks will be different.

        @Dan IMO I don’t think your guys are ridiculous, that’s a great point about poor D, many people don’t take that into consideration. Makes you wonder how good these guys stats would be on a defensive squad.

        1. Shane Hoopfer Apr 16 20105:07 pm


          Ya I don’t think people outside of Calgary realize just how bad the Calgary Flames are right now.

          If you replaced Kiprusoff with say a Vokoun for example, I honestly believe the Flames would have been second last in the Western Conference and bottom 5 in the NHL.

          The number of 5 star saves this guy had to make every game just to keep the team in it was ridiculous. I know personally had I been the Flames goaltender I would have lost it repeatedly on the team.

          1. Dan Rakusan Apr 16 20105:10 pm

            Vokoun > Kipper in my opinion. For once, if he were on a good team, Vokoun would be among the top goalies in the league… Calgary has a decent defence at least. No offensive support really, but a solid D.

  6. Trent Kondo Apr 16 20105:21 pm


    I like Vokoun too, when he was with Nashville he was considered one of the best and really the Preds only had the one solid season back in 06/07 or something. I was really hoping the Hawks picked him up via the trade deadline this year. And he has been excellent this year for a weaker FLA team.
    Not sure if Calgary would have dropped that much if they had Vokoun but no denying what Kipper brings to that team.

    1. Jack Powell Apr 16 20105:37 pm


      Vokoun was lights out this year for Florida. I’m sure there are a few playoff clubs right now that would trade their starter for him in a heartbeat.

      1. Trent Kondo Apr 16 20107:57 pm


        Sure would, I will call our starter Huet and gladly throw him in, heck take Versteeg too :)

        1. Dan Rakusan Apr 16 20108:13 pm


          That plus a second round pick woulda gotten him at the deadline…. Go figure. The Hawks seem comfortable with Niemi. I’m comfortable with Naomi, who is my wife, but that’s a completely different story…

  7. Dan Rakusan Apr 16 20105:46 pm


    Will the Caps stick with Varlamov beyond this season, or will they (as Shane suggested on our radio show) go after Turco? Another option in my books is either Vokoun or Dan Ellis. I think Ellis has all the makings of a solid starter, given the opportunity, but Vokoun in my books would look REALLY good in a Caps’ jersey…

    1. Eric Cooney Apr 16 20105:59 pm


      Vokoun on this years’ Caps squad = Stanley Cup Finals.

      1. Dan Rakusan Apr 16 20106:07 pm


        I honestly believe you could drop the word “Finals” from your comment Eric.

        1. Eric Cooney Apr 16 20106:27 pm


          I didn’t want to sound so assertive, but yes, I believe that too.

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