Eight goalies remain in the 2008 playoffs (nine if you count Dominik Hasek). If history repeats itself, one of the eight will be pivotal in getting their team to the Stanley Cup, while at least two will have a major chance to hoist the Conn Smythe.
But, who is the cream of the crop?
8. Chris Osgood/Dominik Hasek – Detroit Red Wings
The Wings don’t allow very many shots on goal per game, however Nashville still managed to points on the board, even in games where they managed fewer than 25 shots.
Throughout the series,Hasek was average at best until he was pulled in favor of Osgood.
Remember in 2006 when Cam Ward came in to salvage the Hurricanes playoff hopes? Well don’t rule Osgood out. However, don’t be surprised if Hasek earns the starting job again if Osgood is shaky.
7. Martin Biron – Philadelphia Flyers
Biron played strong as the Flyers took care of Washington. However, Biron was not stellar. He will need to be exactly that if Philadelphia hopes to get by Montreal.
Despite having a very consistent season, Biron has a history of losing his poise when it is needed most. If he gets shaken by the high powered Montreal offense it could be a quick series for the Flyers.
6. Carey Price – Montreal Canadiens
Sure Price had two shutouts in the first round, and maybe his cool and calm demeanor made some draw comparisons to a young Patrick Roy.
However, when he got rattled by the Bruins he performed poorly—poorly enough to allow the series to reach seven games.
He is going to need to get his feet settled as the Flyers will provide a much tougher test for the rookie.
5. Marc-Andre Fluery – Pittsburgh Penguins
Fluery could most likely be placed at number six because he was not tested the way the remaining goalies were in the first round. He took goals off the Senators sticks but was not a difference maker in a series that was over before it began.
However, Fluery’s play since returning from injury has been outstanding and if he continues the Penguins will be a difficult team to beat.
4. Marty Turco – Dallas Stars
A first round defeat of the defending Cup champions, coupled with last year’s three-shutout performance against Vancouver has quieted the naysayers about Turco’s playoff potential—Turco even out-dueled a former Conn Smythe winner and was impressive in doing so.
Even when the series turned and the Turco of the past would have folded, the 'new-and-improved' Marty did not. His play will be a major reason Dallas gives San Jose a run in round two.
3. Jose Theodore – Colorado Avalanche
Jose Theodore went from Hart Trophy winner to cast-off in Montreal in a very short period of time, and when he was traded to Colorado he arrived as a back-up to Peter Budaj.
Now, Theodore has regained his past MVP form and has led the rejuvenated Avalanche to a second round match-up with their biggest rivals.
Theodore’s play against Minnesota is the reason the Avs are in the second round, and with some more defensive help, Theodore could very well ead his team to the Western Finals.
2. Henrik Lundqvist – New York Rangers
'King Henrik' helped the Rangers sweep Atlanta last year and let them hang around for six games against Buffalo.
This year he beat one of the greatest to play the game and may have saved the series with his save on John Madden’s penalty shot attempt in game five.
If the Penguins can't take advantage of his sometimes-slow hands, he will be leading the Blue Shirts to face either Montreal or Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference Final.
1. Evgeni Nabokov – San Jose Sharks
It is safe to say the only reason the San Jose Sharks survived the Calgary Flames was that Nabokov was better than Miikka Kiprusoff.
Unlike Martin Brodeur (who again showed signs of fatigued after playing well over 70 games), Nabokov appears to be a true iron man. He made save after save against the Flames and let his team hang around to find their scoring touch as they managed to move on to the second round.
However, the question that now looms is how long until the long season begins to wear on the Russian net minder? He has played 84 games to date, so the Sharks may want to do him a favor and win this one quickly.
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