Ranking the NHL’s starting goalies from No. 1 to No. 31: Andrei Vasilevskiy, in his first season as the Tampa Bay Lightning’s go-to goaltender, leads the chase for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL schedule moves into the second half of the regular season.
There are a handful of goalies who are building a solid case for the Vezina Trophy, plus at least another half-dozen who could force their way into the conversation with a big second half. We ranked all 31 NHL starting goalies midway through November – now here’s how the masked men stack up as the league moves into the second half of the regular season.
1. Andre Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning
He’s the No. 1 goalie on the league’s No. 1 team. At this point, the Vezina Trophy is Vasilevskiy’s to lose. In his first campaign as the Bolts’ full-time starter, the 23-year-old is leading the league in wins and shutouts, and his save percentage and goals-against average are among the league’s best.
2. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators
It’s always a bit of a surprise when you remember that Rinne has never won the Vezina Trophy – he’s been a finalist three times, finishing as the runner-up twice. And with some up-and-down efforts over the past few seasons, it looked like the Vezina window was closing on the 35-year-old Preds mainstay. Open it back up.
3. Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
With 23 wins and only four regulation losses through mid-January, he helped the Jets earn at least a point in 29 of his first 33 starts. He finally lost back-to-back games in regulation in mid-January for the first time this season. Hey, it happens.
4. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
He’s among the NHL goaltending leaders in every meaningful statistical category. More importantly, he’s the biggest single reason for the Kings’ resurgence this season. OK, Drew Doughty has been great, too, but he’s a long shot for the Vezina…
5. Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
The Vezina incumbent and two-time winner is in the middle of it all once again. He’s come on strong of late, surrendering two or fewer goals in seven of nine recent starts. Bobrovsky ranks among the top five goalies in wins this season, but he’d have even more if the team in front of him could muster a little more offense.
6. Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals
Bottom line, pro sports are about winning, and nobody has won more regular season games since the start of 2014-15 than Holtby. In fact, his 155 victories in that span are nearly 30 more than his closest pursuer. The trend continues this season, with Holtby sporting an impressive 24-9-0 for the quietly climbing Capitals.
7. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
After starting the season 3-8-2 and temporarily ceding the crease to backup Anton Khudobin, Rask reclaimed the net by winning 13 of 15 games, with the only losses in that stretch coming in overtime. Not to mention, he surrendered one or fewer goals in nine of those contests. He’s back.
8. Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks
He’d be higher on this list if not for a Dec. 23 injury that sent him to the IR, where it appears he’ll remain for the foreseeable future. Perhaps the rest of the year, in fact, which would be a crushing loss for Chicago – he was the best thing about the Blackhawks this season.
9. Mike Smith, Calgary Flames
After losing four of five, Smith won six straight games as the Flames moved up into a playoff position. Entering action Saturday, he hasn’t given up more than three goals in 14 consecutive starts, with 10 games of two-or-fewer goals against in that span. Did you know that “Mike Smith” translates to “Miikka Kiprusoff” in Finnish? No, really. (Editor’s note: No, not really.)
10. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
He’s on track to post his best save percentage in five years and yet another 30-plus win campaign, a plateau he has reached in 11 of his first 12 NHL seasons, with lockout-shortened 2012-13 as the only outlier.
11. Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights
He has the best stats of any starting goalie, with a sub-2.00 GAA and save percentage north of .940. Those would be stunning numbers on a top contender – like, say, the Pittsburgh Penguins, for example – but on an expansion club such as Vegas, they’re downright ridiculous. Too bad he missed two months due to a concussion, because otherwise he’d be first in line for his first Vezina Trophy.
12. Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils
Not many goalies in the league have been as consistently good for as long as Schneider, and received less credit for it. Even this year, with the surprising Devils holding down a playoff spot in the Metro, you don’t hear Schneider’s name mentioned all that much. But you should.
13. Ben Bishop, Dallas Stars
His first half-season with the Stars has been streakier than he’d like, but he’s been trending in the right direction since late November.
14. Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs
When he’s on, he’s as good as anybody. And while Andersen has been great more often than not this year, he has a tendency to run hot and cold. He’s looking for more consistency and fewer soft goals in the second half.
15. John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks
His barely-better-than-.500 record might not impress you much, but don’t forget that most of the Ducks spent most of the first half on injured reserve. Gibson’s .923 save percentage ranks among the league leaders and it should only improve as the team gets healthy.
16. Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild
It’s been a bit of a weird season for the Wild, as they haven’t played up to expectations and they’re sliding around on the playoff bubble. Same goes for Dubnyk. He’s on pace for the poorest campaign of his four seasons in Minnesota, but a solid second half and some playoff noise would more than make up for it.
17. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings
He’s been Detroit’s MVP so far this season. The Wings would be a lot closer to Arizona and Buffalo in the overall standings if not for their veteran stopper.
18. Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers
Thirty-eight years old, never stopped a puck? You’re definitely not talking about Luongo. His value to the Panthers is evident in the fact his GAA is nearly a half-goal less per game and his save percentage is significantly superior to that of “backup” James Reimer, who has played the majority of the contests in Florida due to Luongo’s injury struggles this season.
19. Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche
After winning six of his first 10 starts despite a middling GAA and save percentage, he’s been barely .500 since then – even though his stats are much better. Is he good enough to help the surprising Avs make the playoffs? Sure, he did it four years ago. (Editor’s note: This item has been updated. The original post said the Avs hadn’t made the playoffs in two years, which was incorrect.)
20. Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks
Not bad, but he’s been swooning over the past month and has been generally outplayed by backup Aaron Dell. Jones lost seven of nine starts in a recent stretch and gave up at least four goals in six consecutive games in December.
21. Brian Elliott, Philadelphia Flyers
A career platoon goalie, too good to be a backup but not quite a bona fide No. 1. He won four of five games as the calendar flipped to 2018 despite surrendering at least three goals in each contest.
22. Jake Allen, St. Louis Blues
Was humming along until he lost eight of nine starts in December and January. Needs to become more consistent – his flashes of brilliance are too often dulled by stretches of substandard play.
23. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
Well, this is awkward. Of course, Price is much better than the 23rd-ranked goalie in the NHL. Ask anyone about him, and before long they’ll trot out the “best goalie in the world” line. But it’s difficult to rank Price any higher based on his play this season. The Habs stopper missed most of November due to injury and he has given up at least four goals in 13 of his 32 starts.
24. Antti Raanta, Arizona Coyotes
He went down in the third game of the season and missed a month, and the Coyotes’ hopes went down with him. If you don’t look at his win-loss record, his stats aren’t bad.
25. Jacob Markstrom, Vancouver Canucks
He’s been dependable on an overachieving Canucks team. After being outplayed early by backup Anders Nilsson, Markstrom has reasserted himself as the team’s go-to guy.
26. Robin Lehner, Buffalo Sabres
To paraphrase noted goalie guru Homer Simpson, Lehner is neither the cause of, nor the solution to, all of Buffalo’s problems.
27. Cam Talbot, Edmonton Oilers
After a breakout season last year, things have gone the other way for Talbot in 2017-18. The leaky Oilers team in front of him bears the majority of the blame.
28. Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins
He’ll never win another Stanley Cup if he keeps playing like this…
29. Jaroslav Halak, New York Islanders
The first-string goalie on the NHL’s last-place defensive team.
30. Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators
Since arriving in Ottawa during the 2010-11 campaign, Anderson’s eight seasons with the Sens can be summed up thusly: great, bad, great, bad, great, bad, great, bad. OK, a couple of those bad seasons weren’t really that bad. But this season is.
31. Scott Darling, Carolina Hurricanes
His first shot as a starter hasn’t gone well. But he’s merely a few months into a four-year deal and his greatest trait might be his determination – you don’t play for nine different teams in nine seasons on your way to the NHL without a little tenacity – so don’t count him out yet.
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