Both the Western Conference Final and the Eastern Conference Final were interesting in this year’s NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, notably because of the goalie matchups in both series. Marc-Andre Fleury and Connor Hellebuyck faced off in the West, with Braden Holtby and Andrei Vasilevskiy meeting in the East. The most interesting takeaway is that both the veteran goalies, Fleury and Holtby, led their teams past the playoff rookies Hellebuyck and Vasilevskiy for a berth in the Stanley Cup Final. Here’s a look at the details of each series, and all four goalies who were a part of them.
Marc-Andre Fleury is thriving as a member of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, who currently sit just one win away from the Stanley Cup Final in their first year as a member of the NHL. Prior to being selected in the expansion draft, Fleury’s future with his former club, the Pittsburgh Penguins, was said to be uncertain. After moving to Vegas, he has proved all naysayers wrong, leaving virtually no room for criticism of the season he has put on for the Knights. With Pittsburgh out of the playoffs and with Fleury eyeing his fourth Stanley Cup championship, should the Penguins regret leaving him exposed this past summer?
For the third Stanley Cup playoffs in a row, the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins will be meeting in the second round, with the past two series seeing Pittsburgh come out on top, going on to win back-to-back Stanley Cups. Also for the third year in a row, Caps goalie Braden Holtby and Pens goalie Matt Murray will be the guys between the pipes for their respective teams. Of the veteran Holtby and the young, already two-time Cup champion Murray, which goaltender gives their team the best chance to win and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals?
Following an 8-5 loss on home ice to lose their first-round playoff series against the reigning back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, one thing about the Philadelphia Flyers became glaringly apparent: their goaltending situation is uncertain, and ultimately, unsolved. For years, now, the Flyers have yet to find a steady goalie tandem, and following a 6-game series of blowout after blowout, they have some work to do in the offseason if they want to fix their problems in goal.
Frederik Andersen is currently playing in his second season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and despite his obvious success and stellar play, has still managed to fly under the radar of many in the hockey community. For all he has done in Toronto and beforehand with the Anaheim Ducks, Andersen might very well be the most underrated goaltender in the NHL. Here’s a look into his recent breakthrough as one of the league’s best.
A number of weeks ago, the National Hockey League announced it would be hosting the 2018 NHL Global Series, sending a number of NHL clubs overseas to various countries in Europe to hold their training camps and play a series of regular-season games against each other, repeating what they did this past season when they held games in Stockholm, Sweden. The league will also be sending teams back to China for another round of the NHL China Games, just as they did a year ago. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and other league officials claim that the goal of these trips is to grow the game, but the details suggest anything but.
For more than a few years now, the Buffalo Sabres have been bad. Not just missing the playoffs by a few points and not performing to their full potential bad, but consistently bottoming out and getting a top-10 pick bad. This past off-season, they shook up the back office and their roster alike, and had hoped to be a playoff contender at this point in the season. The exact opposite has happened, and they now find themselves at the bottom of the league. With things being as poor as they are, are the Buffalo Sabres really this bad?
In the 2017 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, the United States came back from two two-goal deficits in the third period to edge Canada, 5-4, in a shootout to capture the gold medal for the first time since 2013. The USA squad looked to capture gold once again in the 2018 World Juniors, and had to rely on the tandem of Jake Oettinger and Joseph Woll to lead them from the crease.
Since entering the NHL full-time in the 2010-11 season with the Vancouver Canucks and serving as Roberto Luongo’s backup in their cup run, Cory Schneider has quietly been one of the league’s top goaltenders. He has kept his head down and paid his dues as a backup, first behind Luongo then behind Martin Brodeur for part of his first season in New Jersey after being traded. For the last several seasons, however, Schneider has been the Devils’ go-to guy, and he is finally getting his due with the team.
Ever since the introduction of the butterfly play style more than twenty years ago, the average height of NHL goaltenders has trended consistently upward. There is a massive difference in measurements of today’s goalies, with the average NHL goalie standing at just over 6-foot-2, compared to twenty years ago, when the average goalie measured at just under 5-foot-11. This trend has affected drafting strategy, scouting, and numerous careers— but is height truly the biggest factor in a goalie’s ability to stop pucks?