The only thing standing between Henrik Lundqvist and the status as one of the top clutch goalies of past several decades is a Stanley Cup. Yes, that little thing.
But after the performance he delivered on Tuesday night, combined with his record in Game 7s and other elimination games, plus the gold medal he won with Sweden in 2006, it’s awfully tempting to make an exception.
Lundqvist slammed the door on the Penguins in impressive fashion, remaining in the zone and on top of his game in the face of immense pressure. And he continues to do it looking oh, so, marvelous. Consider his record when everything is on the line:
• he’s 5-1 all-time in Game 7s, having won an NHL record five in a row
• he is the first NHL goalie to allow one goal or fewer in five consecutive Game 7s
• his GAA in six Game 7s is 1.00 and his save percentage is .965
• he joins Patrick Roy (6), Martin Brodeur (6) and Ed Belfour (5) as the only netminders to win five or more Game 7s
• he’s 10-2 with a 1.32 GAA, .957 SP and two shutouts in the past 12 games the Ranger have faced elimination
Overall, the ‘King’ is 38-43 in post-season competition, good for a .469 winning percentage – a number that belies how brilliant he has been in recent times when the stakes are highest.
Here’s the company he’s competing with for status among best money goalies of the post-1967 expansion era. To qualify for consideration, a stopper had to either win a Stanley Cup or Conn Smythe Trophy.
- Patrick Roy. Hands-down the guy you’d want between the pipes in a winner-take-all contest. His three Conn Smythe Trophies say it all; he’s the only netminder to achieve that height. And his his astounding 10 straight overtime wins in 1993 is one of those marks that may never be equaled. Scorecard: 4 Stanley Cups, 3 Conn Smythes, .616 playoff winning percentage
- Billy Smith. He didn’t always have the gaudiest regular season numbers, but he won when it mattered for the Islanders and took no prisoners in his crease. His .710 playoff winning percentage leaps off the page. Scorecard: 4 Stanley Cups, 1 Conn Smythe, .710 playoff winning percentage
- Ken Dryden. He had terrific teams in front of him, but had the wherewithal to stand tall when needed more often than not, most notably when he burst into the NHL as an unheralded rookie in 1971 to win the Conn Smythe. Scorecard: 6 Stanley Cups, 1 Conn Smythe, .714 playoff winning percentage
- Grant Fuhr. The Jack Morris of NHL goalies, Fuhr had an uncanny knack for barring the door when he absolutely had to. Which is exactly what the offense-first Edmonton Oilers needed to cobble their dynasty. Scorecard: 4 Stanley Cups, 0 Conn Smythe, .648 playoff winning percentage
- Martin Brodeur. You don’t win three Stanley Cups, Olympic gold and six Game 7s by being a withering flower. Scorecard: 3 Stanley Cups, 0 Conn Smythe, .554 playoff winning percentage
- Bernie Parent. The Flyers legend was clutch for a good time, if not a long time. He is the only netminder to win consecutive playoff MVP titles, standing on his head in 1974 and ’75. Scorecard: 2 Stanley Cups, 1 Conn Smythe, .535 playoff winning percentage
- Dominik Hasek. The Dominator had one of the best clutch runs ever in the 1998 Olympics. It took him a while to snare his first Stanley Cup, but then again, he didn’t become an NHL No. 1 goalie until he was 28. Scorecard: 1 Stanley Cup, 0 Conn Smythe, .570 playoff winning percentage
- Ed Belfour. He’s among a group of four netminders to win five or more Game 7s. And he once offered a policeman a billion dollars – talk about money goalies. Scorecard: 1 Stanley Cup, 0 Conn Smythe, .564 playoff winning percentage
- Gerry Cheevers. The man behind the most famous mask ever was a renowned “money” goalie. His status might have been more inflated if he hadn’t spent four years, during his prime, in the WHA. Scorecard: 2 Stanley Cups, 0 Conn Smythe, .609 playoff winning percentage
- Jean-Sebastien Giguere. He was a revelation for the 2003 Mighty Ducks and won 66 percent of all his playoff games. Scorecard: 1 Stanley Cup, 1 Conn Smythe, .660 playoff winning percentage
Honorable mentions: Tom Barrasso, Ron Hextall, Tim Thomas, Tony Esposito and, of course, Henrik Lundqvist