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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Who Are Currently The Top 5 NHL Goaltenders?

     (originally posted on KCSportsNinja on July 24, 2014)

           The other day I was actually on the phone with a head coach from the NHL. One of the questions he asked me was who I thought were the top five goaltenders in the NHL today. Right away I was able to name three that quickly came to mind, Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings, Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, and Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins. I struggled to name who I thought the remaining two were to fill up the top five.

     I threw out names like Roberto Luongo, Marc Andre Fleury, even Montreal Canadiens backup Justin Tokarski, because I was so impressed with his performance during the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers. I even mentioned to this NHL coach that I think Tokarski is someone to look out for in the future and maybe a star goaltender one day. I was able to eliminate goaltenders who I feel were not worthy of being in the top five. In my opinion, I do not feel Chicago’s Corey Crawford is the reason for the Blackhawks success in general, rather it is their firepower from top to bottom that has made the team so great.  Vancouver’s Ryan Miller although good, I am not sold on him being great.
So who are the other two goalies that would round out my top five? Now that I have had a few days to ponder it, I was able to think carefully and finally named the other two goalies, Nashville Predators 

     Pekka Rinne and Columbus Blue Jackets Sergei Bobrovsky. While Rinne is coming off an infection in his hip, you cannot deny what he has done in Nashville as remarkable. Rinne won a total of 108 games from 2010-12, leading the Predators to three straight playoff appearances and was named as a Vezina Trophy Finalist in both 2011 and 2012. In the 2012-13 strike shortened season, Rinne tied for the most shutouts recorded (5) with four other goaltenders. (Tukka Rask, Mike Smith, Cory Schneider, and Jimmy Howard)

     For Bobrovsky, he immediately impressed me in his NHL debut with the Philadelphia Flyers back on October 7, 2010 in a 3-2 win over their rival Pittsburgh Penguins. Bobrovsky had an outstanding rookie season, posting a 28-13-8 mark and a .915 save percentage. Unfortunately Bobrovsky hit a speed bump in the playoffs and was benched in favor of Brian Boucher. The Flyers would go on to sign Ilya Bryzgalov to a 9 year contract (a decision that would quickly backfire on Philadelphia) and trade Bobrovsky to the Blue Jackets the follow year. Unlike Bryzgavlov, Bobrovsky continued to improve and would win the the Vezina in 2013 with a 21-11-6 mark with a .932 save percentage. The following season he would help the Blue Jackets to the playoffs and guide the franchise to its first playoff victory, a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Columbus would win another game before the Penguins ultimately won the series in 6 games. Even so, Bobrovsky continues to excel and will make Columbus a legitimate playoff contender each season if he maintains his trend of success.

     With that, my current list of the top five goalies in the NHL is set. Jonathan Quick, Henrik Lundqvist, Tukka Rask, Pekka Rinne, and Sergei Bobrovsky are at the top of the food chain. But I want to make it clear like I did with the NHL coach I spoke to, and that being that this is the greatest goaltender of all time!

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