Welcome to Center Ice Chat’s Top 5, an irregular series counting off performances by position this season. Today, we introduce where the success is in the crease so far. The standings here reflect fantastic talent who are paid, trained, and expected to excel even beyond what they have already. They’re on decent or below par clubs not expected to go all the way. These goalies have helped their teams, or at least attempted to, despite the lack of talent performing up front.
5. Al Montoya
He probably wouldn’t have had as much success without the oft-injured Rick DiPietro. But luckily, for Montoya, the oft-injured goalie once again suffered an injury.
In four games, the Chicago native has stepped up to the task of shutting down the opposition. Holding onto a 2-2 record with a 2.02 GAA is more than enough to deserve high marks in the goalie run-down.
4. Corey Crawford
If sophomore slumps are for real, they haven’t shaken the second-year Chicago Blackhawks goaltender. Corey Crawford’s latest success came against the hot Colorado Avalanche with a 3-1 win.
With nine goals against in five games, and an overall 1.79 GAA and 9.35 save percentage, things are looking up for the questioned net minder. It was an even tougher barometer this summer with the departure of Brian Campbell, a puck-moving defenceman anyone would love to have on their first blue line pairing.
3. Kari Lehtonen
The Dallas Stars aren’t suppose to be that good this season. They lost the No. 8 spot in the playoffs to the Chicago Blackhawks when they lost their final game of the season. From there, the departure of Brad Richards meant two steps back, at least.
Kari Lehtonen is, however, doing what great goalies need to do. He’s his own man. He’s playing with purpose, and he’s setting himself up for greater things down the stretch.
The place of worry, however, is the competition the Stars has played. That list includes the St. Louis Blues, Phoenix Coyotes, and a pair of wins against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Regardless, that doesn’t diminish Lehtonen’s 1.58 GAA, .953 save percentage, and five wins in as many games.
2. Henrik Lundqvist
The saddest part of the start of the NHL season is the lack of help Henrik Lundqvist has received. Allowing just three goals in the two-game opener in Stockhold, Lundqvist went on to allow six more goals in three more games in all, including one shutout. With a 1.73 GAA and a 2-1-2 record, Lundqvist deserves to have another win to his name, if not, two.
The Ranges are in the basement of the Atlantic Division with six points as the offence has mustered just 12 goals, which ranks second worst in the NHL and just one goal ahead of the Winnipeg Jets.
Lundqvist simply deserves better for his efforts.
1. Jonathan Quick
It’s all in the name. If you’re looking for a met minder with a GAA under 1, at .96, Quick is your man. While the Los Angeles Kings have picked up a pair of wins against the Phoenix Coyotes and St. Louis Blues, their biggest feat came against the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 15.
Either way you slice it, Quick has been lights out, even if it’s against the basement teams for a portion of the run. But at this point in the season, the Kings haven’t excelled in the offence units while defensively L.A. ranks 12th in penalty killing with 85 percent.
Quick may be dominant so far, but he’ll have to go the distance to continue to live up to his name.
Honourable mentions include James Reimer for owning up to one shutout on the Toronto Maple Leafs who are jelling with a line-up of new faces while the Leafs own up to the 26th-ranked penalty killing unit; Jimmy Howard, for dividing up the load of goaltending duties and helping the Detroit Red Wings to a first-place standing with one of the lowest goals against average so far this season; and Johan Hedberg, for allowing a mere seven goals in four games for the New Jersey Devils. He’ll need to keep it going, however, to squish Martin Brodeur from the No. 1 gig for good.
Article written by Matt Wilson. Follow him on Twitter @Mattjw24.