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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Top 5 Western Conference Goalies

I'm lucky to even be writing this right now after seeing the Penguins win 2-0 over New Jersey last night to clinch a playoff spot and move four points ahead of the Devils in the Atlantic Division.

It was a huge win and you can read more about it Here if you like.

Anyway, as promised here is part two of yesterday's installment. The top five goalies in the Western Conference.

#5 Miikka Kiprusoff - Calgary Flames

Now I would rank him higher on this list, but it's kind of hard to do so with how many great goalies there are in the Western Conference.

Had the Flames officially been awarded the Stanley Cup in 2004, I had said I was going to buy a Kipper jersey out of respect for how he carried them to the finals. I also said the same thing about Roloson during Edmonton's Finals run in 2006, but then he got hurt and it didn't seem worth it anymore had they actually won.

Anyway, Kipper is an elite goalie who anyone would want for their fantasy teams. He did struggle early on this season, but is currently 38-23-10 with a 2.67 GAA and a .907 save percentage. He's 6-3 in the month of March and seems as if he's regaining his form just in time for the playoffs.

I had a suitemate in college who was all about landing any Finnish goalie he could for our fantasy league. Didn't really pay off for him until this year as he's now fighting for he bronze trophy.

Kipper should hit the 40 win plateau for the third straight season, but his numbers have ballooned up a little this season due to the slow start. During his Vezina Trophy winning season in 2005-06 he went 42-20-11 with a ridiculous 2.07 GAA and a .923 save percentage.

By no means do I think that his numbers from that season were a flash in the pan. Miikka has hall of fame potential and should continue to be a dominant goalie for many years to come.

#4 Marty Turco - Dallas Stars

I really like this guy and I don't think he gets enough credit. Mainly this stems from his lackluster playoff performances over the years. I'm still convinced had the Stars won in Game 7 against Vancouver last year that they could have made a run to the conference finals.

Turco and Roberto Luongo put on a goaltending clinic for seven games. It was one series I did not want to end.

On the year Turco is 30-20-4 with a 2.31 GAA and a .910 save percentage. He has struggled recently though going 1-7 in March. The lone win in March for him was a 3-0 shutout over Colorado on March 9. Not really sure who to blame for the Stars struggles of late. The last time they scored more than three goals in a game was Feb. 28 in a 7-4 win over Chicago.

What sets Turco apart is his ridiculous athletic ability. He's not an overly big guy at 5-11 185 pounds, but his will to win isn't matched by many. He's a scrappy goaltender that may not make every save look pretty, but he still makes the saves.

#3 Roberto Luongo - Vancouver Canucks

Aside from Marc-Andre Fleury and Henrik Lundqvist who I discussed yesterday, Luongo is third on my personal list of goalies. I felt so bad for this guy while he was in Florida facing record numbers of shots over the course of a season and he was still putting up very respectable numbers.

In his last season with the Panthers he went 35-30-9 with a 2.97 GAA and a .914 save percentage. Last season with the Canucks he didn't surprise many when he finished the year 47-22-6 with a 2.28 GAA and a .921 save percentage.

As of right now, Luongo is 34-24-9. This may look like a dip in numbers here, but his GAA and save percentage are actually better than they were last year at 2.22 and .922.

This guy is the complete package in net. He's a big body who can explode post to post or out to cut down an angle. When you think you have him beat, he takes it away at the last second. I'm fully convinced that the only reason he and the Canucks aren't being talked about as Cup contenders is due to the severe lack of offense.

They have a great system that keeps them in many games, but you can't ask you going to go out every night and only give up one or two goals. Yeah, that's what you'd love to see every night, but the truth of the matter is that it's not going to happen.

#2 Evgeni Nabokov - San Jose Sharks

Nabby deserves at least a nomination as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy this season. He's got a record of 43-20-8 with a 2.13 GAA and a .910 save percentage. He's been absolutely on fire over the last month and a half going 12-0-2 in his last 14 starts. The last time he lost in regulation was way back on Feb. 18 against the Islanders in a 3-2 game.

This guy has literally carried one of my fantasy teams this season in which I saw Fleury go down and Emery become irrelevant. Nabby has been the rock for my team and has back stopped the Sharks to a five-point lead over the Ducks in the Pacific Division.

No one has been hotter than Nabby and he is one reason the Sharks could represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup finals this summer.

I know that is kinda short and only contains one highlight, but tell me your jaw didn't hit the desk you're sitting at when you saw that.

Gopher had been taunting me about having Nabby going against Phoenix last night since we're playing each other for the championship and I wasn't quick enough to get Nabby in the draft. Based on tonight's goaltending stats, I may just take the whole thing since Nabby gave up 4 and Ryan Miller gave up 5 whilemy boy Fleury pitched a shutout against New Jersey.

Eat your heart out Gopher.

#1 Jean-Sebastien Giguere - Anaheim Ducks

I know this is going to annoy all Red Wings fans out there who are going to say "how can you not throw Hasek and Osgood into this list?" Here's why. Yes, they have been impressive this season, but I'm looking at these guys based on raw talent alone and Osgood has been awful lately and Hasek is suffering from old age and will probably retire after this season anyway.

Anyway, Giggy has been unreal since the calendar changed to 2008 and has been a major reason that the Ducks have made a charge in the standings to solidify their playoff hopes.

Since the start of 2008 Giggy has gone 18-6-3 with three shutouts. One didn't really count due to the Ducks losing in a shootout.

I have been completely impressed with this guy since he carried the Mighty Ducks to within one game of winning the Stanley Cup in 2002-2003 when they lost to New Jersey in Game 7. That Finals run was one of the greatest displays of goaltending I have ever seen. He singlehandedly got the Mighty Ducks that far and deserved winning the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Flash forward to last season when the Ducks won the Cup and he was once again brilliant in the playoffs. This guy is a big game goalie. Not just because he wins the big games, but because he's a huge guy and has serious game.

On the year he's 33-17-6 with a 2.11 GAA and a .923 save percentage which is tied with Ty Conklin for the league lead. How that's possible with how poorly Conks has played over the last few games is beyond me, but whatever.

If there is a team that could defend the Stanley Cup, it's the Ducks this year. Look out for them and for Giggy in the playoffs because it should be something to see.

So there you have it, the top five goalies from both conferences. Stay tuned as I will be breaking down the playoff matchups once they are finally determined.

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