Tim Thomas leads all starting goalies with a .944 SP and 1.80 GAA this season. (Brian Babineau/Sports Action Photography)
With the injury bug hitting the NHL’s upper tier of goaltenders this season – Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, Evgeni Nabokov, Rick DiPietro, Marc-Andre Fleury – and a number of second-tier tenders filling in nicely, we wondered: “Who are the NHL’s best goalies, right now?”
Not who we want for a one-game showdown. Not who we think has the best future ahead of them. Just which currently healthy goaltenders have been playing the best hockey recently (stats are from the past three weeks). Here’s what we came up with:
10. Alex Auld, Ottawa Senators
• Auld is playing well for a woeful Ottawa team. He has taken the No. 1 job away from Martin Gerber and is 2-3-2 with a 2.11 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage. His work between the pipes has put the focus on the Sens’ other problem areas.
9. Dan Ellis, Nashville Predators
• Nashville is currently holding down the final playoff spot in the West, thanks in large part to the work of Ellis. His stat line the past three weeks is 4-4 in eight starts, 2.40 GAA and .920 SP.
8. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
• The Habs have stumbled of late, going 3-4-3 in their past 10 games. But Price has been playing well, sporting a 2.65 GAA and a .912 save percentage in his past eight starts; he hasn’t allowed more than two goals in any of his past five starts.
7. Joey MacDonald, New York Islanders
• Yes folks, Joey MacDonald. How about these numbers: nine starts in 21 days, a 5-3-1 record, 2.49 GAA and .920 SP. MacDonald is allowing the Islanders to hang around the playoff race and making fans forget about DiPietro.
6. Peter Budaj, Colorado Avalanche
• Another goalie on a bad team who’s playing well of late. Budaj didn’t let the signing of Andrew Raycroft get to him and has firmly planted himself in the No. 1 slot. He’s 4-4-0 during his past eight starts for a team that struggles to score. How? With a 2.04 GAA and a .935 save percentage, that’s how.
5. Nikolai Khabibulin, Chicago Blackhawks
• The NHL’s third star last week started the season as the No. 2 man in Chicago, but has taken the top job from vaunted off-season signee Cristobal Huet. Khabibulin has three wins in his past five starts with a 2.69 GAA and a .922 save percentage.
4. Martin Biron, Philadelphia Flyers
• Biron has spent some time on the injury list himself this season, but he’s back with a vengeance. During the past three weeks, he’s put doubters to rest with a stat line reading: seven starts, a 5-1-1 record, 1.98 GAA and a .932 save percentage.
3. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
• King Henrik is on pace for his fourth Vezina nomination in four seasons and his recent work for the sliding Rangers (5-4-1 in their past 10 games) is why. He’s 5-2-1 the past 21 days with a 2.23 GAA and .927 save percentage.
2. Niklas Backstrom, Minnesota Wild
• Minnesota is the only team in the league to allow less than 40 goals so far this season. Coach Jacques Lemaire’s system has a lot to do with that, but so does the work of Backstrom. He is the undisputed No. 1 in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, thanks in large part to the gaudy numbers he’s put up in his past eight starts: a 5-3-0 record, 1.72 GAA and .937 save percentage.
1. Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins
• Thomas hasn’t only been the best goalie in the NHL recently, he might just be the best goalie in the league period. This guy has beaten the odds to get where he is today and still doesn’t get any respect (see: snub, all-star ballot). During the past three weeks he’s 5-0-1 with a 1.76 GAA and .944 save percentage for the top team in the East.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
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