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Goalie Nation: A country-by-country survey of the league's masked men

Nine nations in net: A global look at where NHL goalies come from

We did the NHL’s demographical breakdown, a country-by-country census of the league’s player population. Then we did the NHL’s draft breakdown, a round-by-round look at how the league’s rosters were built.

Next up: a closer look at the goalies.

Through games played as of Oct. 28, a total of 64 goaltenders had appeared in at least one NHL game this season. As you might expect, Canada produces the most NHL netminders – and the most starters – but there are eight other countries that have masked men playing in the North American big-time this season.

Here’s a look at where NHL goalies come from, with some country-by-country combined stats to show how each nation’s netminders are faring so far.

CANADA: 25 
Starters: 12
Total combined starts: 127
Combined record: 62-46-18
Combined shutouts: 5
Go ahead and call it a comeback: Full marks to Chicago goalie Corey Crawford for returning to action after nearly a 10-month layoff due to concussion symptoms. Crawford and the rest of the Blackhawks didn’t have their best game in a 7-3 loss to St. Louis on Saturday, but his early numbers were still impressive despite the blowout (3-2-0, 2.44 goals-against average, .919 save percentage). Crawford was the Blackhawks’ best player -- and a leading Vezina Trophy candidate -- in the first half of last season before he went down in late December, and it looks like he’s ready to pick up where he left off. It’s great to see him back in the crease after it appeared his career might be in jeopardy.

UNITED STATES: 14 
Starters: 7
Total combined starts: 72
Combined record: 31-32-10
Combined shutouts: 6
It’s always the one you least expect: OK, Keith Kinkaid hasn’t completely come out of nowhere, but it’s close. The Devils’ 29-year-old perennial backup finally got a chance at a starter’s workload in the second half of last season, replacing an injured and struggling Cory Schneider, and Kinkaid delivered. He won 26 times in 38 starts and was a big part of New Jersey’s surprising playoff qualification. This season, same deal. Schneider has been out with injury – he’s on a rehab stint in the AHL -- but Kinkaid has stepped up again (5-2-1, 2.12 GAA, .925 SP). The only real question is, who’s No. 1 in New Jersey when Schneider returns?

FINLAND: 7 
Starters: 3
Total combined starts: 32
Combined record: 21-11-0
Combined shutouts: 2
The Predator sequel looks good: It’s Finn-on-Finn crease chaos in Nashville, and you’ve got to feel for poor Pekka Rinne. The guy goes to the Stanley Cup final two years ago, then follows up with his first Vezina Trophy last season … and all we want to talk about is next-in-line Jusse Saros. The Preds backup is taking advantage of Rinne’s time on the IR, compiling a 5-2-0 record with a 2.73 GAA and .912 SP for the league’s first-place team. To be fair, Rinne was pulling his weight before he got hurt, with a 3-1-0 record, 2.10 GAA and .929 SP. It appears that the NHL’s best Finnish goalie this season plays in Nashville -- we’ve just got to figure out whether it’s Saros or Rinne.

SWEDEN: 5 
Starters: 3
Total combined starts: 29
Combined record: 13-13-3
Combined shutouts: 2
New York state of mind: For the past decade or so, the phrase “best Swedish goalie in the NHL” has been closely followed by the phrase “Henrik Lundqvist.” And that may very well be the case by the time this season comes to a close. But at the moment, it’s another New York-based goalie standing tall for Tre Kronor, with the Isles’ Robin Lehner making the most of his second chance (3-2-1, 2.39 GAA, .929 SP, one shutout) after things didn’t work out in Buffalo. Speaking of upstate New York, Lehner’s backup last season, Linus Ullmark, is 2-0-1 with a 2.00 GAA, .935 SP and one shutout.

RUSSIA: 5 
Starters: 3
Total combined starts: 25
Combined record: 13-9-3
Combined shutouts: 1
Big red bears: Only five NHL goalies are Russian, but three of them are starters, and one’s a multiple Vezina winner (Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky), one was nominated last season (Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevksiy) and the other one is a past nominee who’s playing like he wants to be a finalist again this season (Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov, 4-2-2, 1.62 GAA, .950 SP).

CZECH REPUBLIC: 3 
Starters: 1
Total combined starts: 10
Combined record: 5-4-1
Combined shutouts: 0
Watch out for the ol’ switcheroo: We’re counting Petr Mrazek as Carolina’s “starter” even though he’s basically been splitting time with waiver-wire pickup Curtis McElhinney. Meanwhile, we didn’t count David Rittich as Calgary’s starter even though he’s been superior to Mike Smith in the early days of 2018-19. Check back at the end of the season, and it could be Mrazek on Carolina’s bench and Rittich in Calgary’s crease. Or vice-versa.

GERMANY: 2 
Starters: 0
Total combined starts: 7
Combined record: 4-3-0
Combined shutouts: 0
The Germans are coming … maybe: Philipp Grubauer isn’t Colorado’s starter (yet). Thomas Greiss isn’t the Islanders’ starter (and probably won’t be, but let’s not go all-in on Lehner’s revival quite yet). The Avs handed Grubauer a three-year, $10-million deal, so he’ll get a shot if and when Varlamov hits a rough patch. And Greiss might get a chance, too, but it won’t be good news for the Isles if he does.

SLOVAKIA: 2 
Starters: 0
Total combined starts: 5
Combined record: 3-0-2
Combined shutouts: 2
Call it The Chara Effect: The Bruins are a better defensive team than the Islanders, just ask Jaroslav Halak. Of the 51 goalies who played at least 25 games last season, he ranked 46th with a 3.19 GAA, the worst mark of his career. The solution? Sign with Boston in the off-season, and bolt out of the gates with a 3-0-2 record, 1.45 GAA, .943 SP and two shutouts.

DENMARK: 1 
Starters: 1
Total combined starts: 9
Combined record: 6-3-0
Combined shutouts: 0
The Greatest Goalie In The Centre Of The Hockey Universe: Frederik Andersen is holding down the fort in Toronto, at least until Matthews or Tavares decide they want to strap on the pads and play net.

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