There's Money Goaltenders and then theres... well you know...
Down here at the Georges Vezina stock exchange, the trading floor is awash in confusion, the once reliable blue chip stocks are suddenly going south, while young and in some cases unknown entities are rising to the occasion, gaining value with each and every save.
It has been a most confusing bit of time on the rolling index of goal tending, a review if you will of the rising stocks and those in decline.
Marc Andre Fleury-- Pittsburgh-- if we had a sound effect, it would be the Cayuga horn of a submarine, while he can make amends over the next four games, we suspect that any increase in value to the Fleury stock will have to wait until next season, with an amazing string of goals against for the Penguins now at 20 (most of them with Fleury in the nets) he is by far the steepest in decline at the moment.
Ilya Bryzgalov-- Philadelphia-- Not to be outdone in the Goals against parade, his counterpart in Philadelphia Ilya Bryzgalov is also a declining stock, with 12 goals against thus far, the Flyers perhaps have come to understand why Phoenix wasn't particularly heartbroken to bid Bryzy farewell. The only saving grace if you will, the fact that the Flyers have been able to bounce back from those early game struggles to dominate the Pens.
Braden Holtby-- Washington -- The talk of the first few games, reality brought the young Caps goaltender back to ground level in game three. The Bruins managed to find the twine behind Holtby four times in game three, providing an increase in pressure that the youngster hadn't seen previous in the series. His early success bodes well for his career, but the game three setback moves him down the index in this playoff session.
Jimmy Howard -- Detroit -- The Wings aren't quite the team they once were, age has taken a bit of a toll on their success and since they don't dominate quite as much as in the past, suddenly their goal tending becomes a much more important aspect of the Red Wing game plan. Howard is certainly up to the task, though opposing teams are finding the cracks in the Red Wing defence now and making the best of their opportunities. Howard
Jose Theodore-- Florida-- The Panthers, relative newcomers to the playoffs after a lengthy absence can at least feel content with their goaltender, who won't feel the same kind of pressure of past experiences, mainly since few expect the Panthers to make a lengthy run for the Cup this year. That perhaps provides for a bit of looseness that will allow Theodore to surprise the Devils a few times along the way this first round. With few expectations, his chance for success seems improved moving him to the middle of the index, with room for growth.
Corey Crawford -- Chicago -- Keep your head up young man, though we imagine with a 3 game suspension just announced for Andrew Shaw, things will settle down around the Blackhawk nets. Still Crawford needs to concentrate on the Coyotes shooters, not necessarily their hit men, he's been reliable in the Hawks nets. Which is the minimum of what a team can only hope for at playoff time. Holding pattern on the goaltenders index.
Martin Brodeur-- New Jersey-- With all the drama in some of the other series, the prospect of the Devils and the Panthers seems a little underwhelming, still when you have Brodeur in your net, there should be some attention paid. Still the Panthers have been able to generate some offence and find room behind the net that Brodeur guards. It seems more of a case of the defensive shortcomings coming to the forefront than anything else, but the Devils goaltender while always reliable isn't stealing anything at this moment. Holding in the middle of the index as the series moves forward.
Antti Niemi-- San Jose -- The Sharks barely made it into the playoffs and thus far while still in the hunt, you can clearly here the orchestra warming up for a fond farewell. While the decline of the Sharks can't be put on the shoulders of their goaltender, he's been abandoned too much by his team mates for that to happen, the thing is, when the Sharks needed that one save to try and stem the Blues attack, it hasn't been delivered. Still, Niemi is a one time Blue Chipper who could be again, though you have to wonder if it isn't destined to be with another team.
Roberto Luongo/Cory Schneider -- Vancouver-- Neither of the Canucks goaltenders will have to worry about the can being tied to them over the Canucks playoff malfunction. In fact, both Luongo and Schneider have played very well in their appearances, keeping their team in the hunt far longer than perhaps they deserved. One of them is most likely to leave Vancouver when the playoffs end, Schneider's stock is destined to move upward. While Luongo who is one of the tops in the game, at the moment holds his spot on the index, owning more to the fate of his team than anything else, up until his next assignment comes along.
Tim Thomas-- Boston -- Mr. Thomas went to Washington and all those Barack Obama photos and masks had little effect on his game. Thomas while surrendering three goals in game number three, still seems very much in control of his play in the first round. The Bruins' struggles with a pesky Capitals squad, rests more with offensive output than what's happening on the goal line. Thomas is hold in the middle of the index pack, but has potential to move upwards as the Bruins move forward.
On the Rise
Jaroslav Halak/ Brian Elliot-- St. Louis -- The only better one/two punch in the league is in Vancouver, both of the Blues goaltenders have had their success in the Blues rise to the top in the West. Interchangeable it seems as far as the confidence level of their teammates is concerned. Halak went out with an injury in game two, Elliot not only held the win but the shutout, the success of the Blues will rest on one of their shoulders, though we imagine they are hoping for a quick return for Halak. The options that having two quality goaltenders provide for coach Ken Hitchcock are incalculable in a Stanley Cup playoff run.
Mike Smith -- Phoenix-- Much like his counterpart down the ice, Smith hasn't been a problem for the Coyotes, indeed watching the strangeness of the Flyers starts, we imagine that Team Coyote is quite happy with Mr. Smith. Another holding stock in the goaltenders derby, though he's bubbling on the edge of breakthrough, clearly worth watching in the future however.
Craig Anderson -- Ottawa-- The Sens can thank their goaltender for part of their success against the Rangers thus far, some stellar goal tending that has stymied one of the league's most potent attacks. The Sens have a bright future ahead of them, this playoff experience something that should provide for much knowledge going forward in seasons to come. Anderson, solid as he has been, has been the anchor for a young team's learning curve, his value increases going forward.
Pekka Rinne -- Nashville-- The Preds are on the rise in the NHL and one of the keys to their success stands in the Predator goal crease. Rinne is proving to be the main stumbling block for the Red Wings, a team that prides itself on offensive output, but thus far is having its problems solving the riddle that is Rinne. Should as many suggest the Preds move on in the playoffs, the exposure and accolades for the Predator goalkeeper will increase accordingly.
Henrik Lundqvist -- New York Rangers -- The Senators are giving the Rangers a pretty stiff battle in this first round of the playoffs, a text book example of the scrappy young pup that is nipping at the heels of the Bigger dog. The Big Dog however has one key advantage that in the end is probably going to be the main reason the Sens struggle in their attempt to advance. Henrik Lundqvist showcased why the Rangers were the talk of the east in game three, shutting down and shutting out a Senators attack that should have been rewarded with goals, but found that the Ranger goaltender was there to deny. Sure there has been a bit of puck luck for the Rangers, but you have to be good to be lucky and Lundqvist is one of the best.
Jonathan Quick - Los Angeles -- Every series has its run away success story and the first round belongs to Jonathan Quick, the LA goaltender is probably the only reason his team is in the playoffs and since they made it to the dance, Quick is providing his best to make sure they stay there a little bit longer than many might suspect. He has shut down a Canuck offence that while troubled this series should still be dangerous, his key saves sending would be Canuck goal scorers to the bench in frustration. All success for the Kings' run will be attributed to Quick, as well it should be.