While I was sitting there watching Braden Holtby help the Capitals shut down the Rangers last night to force a Game 7 in their Eastern Conference semifinal, I started thinking about how it seems I’m raving about great goaltending to myself, friends, colleagues, family, etc. almost every night in these playoffs.
Exceptional goaltending, as you know, is nothing new to postseason hockey. Netminders have been stealing games, series (Halak 2010), Conference championships (Giguere 2003), and even Cups (Roy 1993), since the NHL’s early days.
But usually, it’s one superb, truly memorable goaltending performance per postseason, maybe even per couple of seasons. When guys like Ken Dryden, Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek and J.S. Giguere went buck wild, they were easily the stories of that respective postseason. The difference this season is that so many goalies are giving us so much to remember. In any other year, Jonathan Quick’s showing to date or Mike Smith’s performance so far would be the one spectacular display head and shoulders above the rest, but we’ve been spoiled with quality in large quantity in 2012.
At first, I wondered if maybe this was one of those cases where I’m perceiving something to be true when the numbers don’t actually back it up.
But as it turns out, the statistics confirm my thoughts.
Consider this: Two of the top-four best save percentages in one postseason, since the NHL began tracking the stat in 1983, belong to performances this season, with Quick’s .949 and Smith’s .948 currently sitting third and fourth, respectively. Stretching things even further, four of the five starting goalies remaining in the 2012 Playoffs rank in the top-30 for best save percentage in one postseason for their 2012 performances (add Holtby and Lundqvist to Quick and Smith).
Obviously these goalies still have some hockey to play this season, and those numbers can and will change. But nonetheless, the numbers don’t lie. And right now, they tell the story of one remarkably goaltended postseason.
Now here are your morning links:
- How high is Braden Holtby’s ceiling? (Bloguin)
- Holtby, his mom, and big-game Zen (The Washington Post).
- Coyotes’ blue line stepping up through adversity (The Arizona Republic).
- Coyotes’ GM Don Maloney: We need people to come back (ArizonaSports.com). Whether or not fans in Phoenix/Glendale will continue to show support past this surprising playoff run is something that’s been discussed here at BHS over the last few days.
- Kings generate Stanley Cup buzz in Southern California (Inside Bay Area).
- Devils’ defenceman Marek Zidlicky is considered “day to day” (theScore.com). Zidlicky was injured in Game 5 of New Jersey’s East semifinal when he was hit into the boards by Flyers’ forward Wayne Simmonds.
- After purchasing the Blues, Tom Stillman’s work has just begun (FOX Sports Midwest). Running a championship caliber sports organization is obviously never easy, but St. Louis has a foundation in place that if managed properly, should be suitable for long-term success.
- Saku Koivu re-signs with the Ducks (CBS Sports).
- Have you seen Russian President Vladimir Putin’s shootout winner yet? (Puck Daddy)