There are few things better than a great goal, but nothing — not even the most dazzling tally — can bring fans to their feet like a jaw-dropping save.
If there was one thing that defined some of the greatest saves of the past year, it may be stick saves. Saves on our countdown were made in a number of fashions, but many of the best came thanks to paddle stops. Here are the 10 best stops of 2015:
10. Henrik Lundqvist’s stick robs Ryan Johansen
As we said, it was the year of the stick save, and what better to kick off the best saves of 2015 with than an awesome stick stop by New York Rangers netminder Lundqivst. ‘King Henrik’ waited until the final months of 2015 to get into the conversation for the best save of the season, but it was only a few days into the season.
9. Juha Metsola scrambles back to turn aside Alexei Mikhnov
Like Lundqvist, Metsola’s save came because of a funny hop, but there’s a slight difference. Where Lundqvist needed only to cut down an angle to make his save, Metsola needed to scramble all the way out and come across his net to deny Mikhnov with his paddle.
8. David Perron has nightmares about Cam Ward’s glove
In 80 games with the Penguins, Perron has scored 16 goals. That should very well have been 17, though. Hurricanes veteran netminder Ward has made a habit of getting himself on the end-of-year save lists, and his glove stop is the first of consecutive appearances on our countdown of the best stops.
7. Cam Ward does it again, this time with the stick on Matt Duchene
Ward made his two saves that appear on this list almost exactly seven months apart. The first stop came in late March, but his late October diving stick save on Duchene is just that much better than the glove on Perron. Ward was dead to rights after a beautiful move by Duchene, but the Hurricanes goaltender sprawled and dove to his right to stop the shot.
6. Nikita Bespalov reaches back to rob Pavel Varfolomeyev
Bespalov had no right making this save. It may be as much luck as it is skill, but fact of the matter is the Sibir Novosibirsk goaltender absolutely robbed Varfolomeyev with his outstretched glove. Varfolomeyev can’t believe it.
5. Jake Allen’s insane glove save fools everyone
Commentator Darren Pang makes this video great, but the save was deserving of a call so boisterous. Allen has taken over as the starting netminder in St. Louis and it’s saves like this that have kept him there. Dano might still be thinking he scored.
4. J.T. Miller robbed by a diving Karri Ramo
The NHL called this their save of the season in 2014-15, and we’d have to agree. Ramo moves left to right like lightning and reaches out to steal a marker off the stick of Miller. Ramo’s play down the stretch was spectacular and earned him a one-year deal with the Flames in the off-season.
3. Colin DeAugustine reaches back for highlight-reel stick stop
Listen for the goal horn because it tells you all you need to know about DeAugustine’s save. The USHL netminder had a rebound come off of him and he lost track of the puck momentarily, but DeAugustine caught sight of it just in time to snap into action and dazzle with a reach-back stick save.
2. Ryan Ruck makes spinning blocker save
Ruck makes this save not with his stick, not with his glove, but with his blocker. But watch closely. There’s no rebound. Zero. Ruck knocked the puck down with his blocker and covered on a one-timer that he should have had no chance at stopping.
1. Petr Mrazek robs Brian Boyle with paddle stop
Mrazek stole the starting job in Detroit in the post-season and showed why he has been able to push Red Wings counterpart Jimmy Howard to splitting time in the Detroit goal. Much like Allen’s save on Dano, Mrazek’s stop is made better because no one thought it was possible this play ended with a save. Better yet, though, is how far Mrazek has slid before he reaches back with his stick. This is the greatest save of the past year.