Top 10: Most saves in a single Stanley Cup playoff run

Casey Ippolito
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Having gone to seven games in the three series leading to the Stanley Cup final, Jonathan Quick has been assaulted by numerous rounds of enemy fire in the 2014 playoffs. With 23 games under his belt and two wins away from glory, Quick has already tied Corey Crawford for a spot in the top 10 for most saves in a single post-season. The Kings may finish off the Rangers quickly, but if the Blueshirts hang around, No. 32 between the pipes in L.A. could ascend to the top of this list. Here’s the 10 netminders who’ve turned away the most rubber in a Stanley Cup tournament.

T-10. JONATHAN QUICK (2014) — 628 saves in 23 games

T-10. COREY CRAWFORD (2013) — 628 saves in 23 games
Crawford, a goaltender who has done plenty to earn respect but still doesn’t get much, backstopped the Blackhawks to a Cup in 2013 while posting an impressive .932 save percentage and 1.84 goals-against average. Not only did Crawford lead a Hawks team with far inferior depth compared to Antti Niemi’s 2010 team, but the 2013 squad tackled the powerhouse Bruins and Kings, in addition to storming back from a 3-1 series deficit against the Red Wings in Round 2.

9. ROBERTO LUONGO (2011) — 650 saves in 25 games
‘Bobby Lu’ finished the 2011 playoffs with a .914 save percentage and a 2.56 goals-against average, which are curious figures for a goaltender who was a single win shy of hoisting the Cup. His numbers were spoiled by lopsided Bruins victories in the Stanley Cup final — 8-1 in Game 3, 4-0 in Game 4, 5-2 in Game 6, and 4-0 in a humiliating Game 7. But other than Luongo’s complete implosion in the final, he was pretty good!

8. MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF (2004) — 659 saves in 26 games
With 1655 minutes spent between the pipes in the ’04 playoffs, Kiprusoff holds the record for most minutes in a single post-season, over 100 more than runners-up, Ed ‘Billionaire’ Belfour and Kirk McLean. Game 5 of the final went to double OT, but surprisingly, ‘Kipper’ only faced 27 shots. The Flames fell just short of becoming the first Cup-winning Canadian team since 1993, losing 2-1 in Game 7 to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

7. J-S GIGUERE (2003) — 659 saves in 21 games
Giguere’s impeccable puckstopping with the Mighty Ducks in ’03 made him the fifth player on the losing side of the Stanley Cup final to win the Conn Smythe Trophy. Anaheim’s path to the final went through the No. 2 seed Red Wings, whom the Ducks swept, and through the No. 1 seed Stars. Giguere’s most legendary win of these playoffs was a five-overtime ultra-marathon in Round 2 against Dallas, wherein he faced 63 shots and escaped with a 4-3 victory. Giguere and the underdog Ducks went to overtime seven times throughout the post-season and won all seven.

6. JOHN VANBIESBROUCK (1996) — 685 saves in 22 games
I still laugh when I think back to the Panthers and their unlikely road to the ’96 Stanley Cup final. On a team whose offensive leaders included Scott Mellanby, Rob Niedermayer, Robert Svehla and Johan Garpenlov, Vanbiesbrouck backstopped the Cats to series victories over Boston, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. How did the lackluster Panthers advance so far? Look no further than ‘Beezer’ and the spike in his numbers: his save percentage jumped from .904 in the regular season to .932 in the playoffs, while his goals-against average dipped from 2.68 to 2.25. The Panthers were crushed in the final by Colorado (Sorry, Rory), losing four straight.

5. OLAF KOLZIG (1998) — 696 saves in 21 games
“Do you guys know what a hamblacheyapee [sp?] is? A hamblacheyapee is a vision, and uh, and an Indian, especially a warrior, like, a guy like Crazy Horse who dedicated his life to that vision and dream. There was a saying that Crazy Horse had that he picked up in this dream and his saying was, ‘Hanta yo.’ And it meant, it’s a good day to die. OK? Ours will be, ‘It’s a good day to lose.’ What Crazy Horse meant by that is he went in there fearless, he wasn’t afraid to die — we can’t be afraid to lose. And if we’re not afraid to lose the hockey game, we’ll all be better for it.”   — Ron Wilson, to the Washington Capitals before Game 2 of the 1998 Stanley Cup final, a series in which the Caps lost every game

4. RON HEXTALL (1987) — 698 saves in 22 games
When you face off against the late-’80s Oilers in a seven game series, you’ll be forced to contend with a lot of shots. After getting by the Rangers, Islanders and Canadiens, the Flyers advanced to the Cup final against Edmonton, who’d lost just twice in three rounds. 22-year-old Hextall, who’d been playing in Hershey for the American League’s Bears a year earlier, led Philly to a seventh game against the dynastic Oilers, and was rewarded with the Conn Smythe in a losing effort.

3. TUUKKA RASK (2013) —715 saves in 22 games
Despite their reputation of being an airtight defensive powerhouse, the Boston Bruins allowed plenty of rubber to be directed toward their superstar Finnish netminder in the 2013 playoffs. After watching from the bench as Tim Thomas captured the Cup in 2011, Rask had his turn playing four playoff rounds, posting incredible numbers along the way. His .940 save percentage and 1.88 goals-against average in a losing effort speaks to his heavy workload, especially against the high-flying Blackhawks in the Cup final. The series ended suddenly and shockingly for the Bruins, thanks to a two-goal Chicago comeback in the waning minutes of Game 6.

2. KIRK MCLEAN (1994) — 761 saves in 24 games
McLean’s 1994 playoffs, and possibly his career, are defined by a save he made in the first round against the Calgary Flames. In overtime of Game 7, Theo Fleury fed a pass across to Robert Reichel on an odd-man rush, and McLean’s subsequent acrobatic pad-stacking stop is now known as “The Save.” On the road to the Stanley Cup final against the Rangers, McLean shut out the Maple Leafs in back to back games, along with two other shutouts in the opening two rounds. Overall, he put up a .928 save percentage and a 2.28 goals-against average.

1. TIM THOMAS (2011) — 798 saves in 25 games
Before Thomas was a tinfoil-hat-wearing, year-off-taking backup goaltender in Florida and Dallas, he was one of the most dominant goalies in the NHL. In one of the greatest playoff performances in league history, 36-year-old Thomas was a wall for the Bruins as they marched through the 2011 playoffs. Thomas holds the records for most shots faced and most saves, to go along with an immaculate .940 save percentage. The Bruins captured the Cup in seven games, and it was a riot.