Sunday, March 27, 2011

Top 10 Backup Goalies

Brent Johnson (February 1, 2011 - Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images North America)

I’m working on coming up with ranking system for the top 10 goalies of the week or by-weekly.  It is taking me a little time to fully figure out how I want to do that.  But I came across this ranking of the top 10 backup goalies in the NHL by Bleacher Report and I am going to have to disagree with some of the rankings.  I am also going to give my top 10 backups right now.
They have Ray Emery on the list, but after playing in 4 games I don’t think that warrants making it into the top 10, I also think that two headed goalies (where goalies are splitting or are close to splitting games) don’t really count for backups even though they may appear as a backup (Brian Boucher), in my opinion.  I think they did a pretty good job otherwise.  As much as I’d love to put Scott Clemmensen as the best backup, those of you that know me would expect that, here are my top 10 backup goalies:

10- Jonathan Bernier, Los Angeles Kings (10-8-3, .908 save percentage, 2.57 goals-against average, 2 shutouts)
Bernier has done well in his first full year in the NHL, performing great in the games he has played in this year. Look for him in years to come.
9-Martin Biron, New York Rangers (8-6-0, .923 save percentage, 2.13 goals-against average)
Biron was an amazing backup for the Rangers filling in well and giving his teammate shootout tips from the bench helping the team win games that way.
8- Mathieu Garon, Columbus Blue Jackets (10-10-5, .904 save percentage, 2.65 goals-against average, 3 shutouts)
He has done well behind Steve Mason and earlier we anointed “the starter” for a few weeks and had filled in decently for Mason when he gets a night off.
7-Antero Niittymaki-San Jose Sharks (12-6-3, .900 save percentage, 2.57 goals-against average)
Nitty has done great filling in for Antti Niemi, even with an injury that kept him out a little during the season.  The Sharks have no problem playing him in games over Niemi and he has the experience should Niemi falter.
6-Jose Theodore, Minnesota Wild (12-10-3, .915 save percentage, 2.78 goals-against average, 1 shutout)
He was really good in Washington last year but did not fit into their plans or any other team’s original plans. Theodore’s play has been really good and he has taken some games away from Niklas Backstrom and is playing really well again this year.
5-Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins (10-12-2, 2 shutouts, .917 save percentage, 2.75 goals-against average)
Pask an outstanding rookie season last year and taking the reins from Tim Thomas.  He has also performed great this year, but was outplayed by Thomas, resulting in fewer games for Rask.  He can handle the show and will do so in the future.
4-Johan Hedberg, New Jersey Devils (13-11-2, .913 save percentage, 2.34 goals-against average, 3 shutouts)

Even for a crappy first half Devils team he did well and gave the team a chance to win, but a few bad bounces resulted in losses.  Then he became brilliant filling in for Marty Brodeur winning 7 in a row pulling the Devils out of last place.  His solid play even kept Brodeur on the bench for a few games when he became healthy again.  Although he might not start again he has shown that at 37 he can still play great in the NHL.
3-Anders Lindback, Nashville Predators (11-5-2, 2 shutouts, .915 save percentage, 2.60 goals-against average)
Lindback has done well in his first year in North America and has shown that he will have a good career in his future.  He did great covering for Pekka Rinne when he was hurt for a bit.  I give Mitch Korn a lot of credit in helping Lindback make the jump from Europe to the NHL at such a quick pace. Look out for him in the future. 
2- Cory Schneider, Vancouver Canucks. (14-3-2, 1 shutout, .927 save percentage, 2.22 goals-against average)
He has played outstanding in all of his starts and would be the future if Roberto Luongo was not there for 11 more years.  He will bring great trade return and is another guy with a promising future ahead of him. 
1- Brent Johnson, Pittsburgh Penguins (11-5-3, 2.19 goals-against average, .920 save percentage, 1 shutout)
He kept the Penguins together when Fleury struggled early this season and plays solid in almost every start and his teammate are very confident in him.  He can also throw a punch or two.

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