Welcome to Center Ice Chat’s Top 5, an irregular series featuring the best — and worst — rankings around the league. As the season winds down, we take a look at the top 5 players by position. We present you with the top 5 goalies of the past week:
The last week featured a backtrack of starting goalies losing stock from Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks to James Reimer of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Dark horses — the backups, if you will — have stormed out of the gates. Meanwhile, others — franchise starters, specifically — have made a comeback. Ryan Miller is your leader, here’s who else is hot:
5. Ray Emery, Chicago Blackhawks
Ray Emery made a couple of triumphant starts between the pipes for the Chicago Blackhawks, who have had a roller coaster six weeks. Crawford showed poise, but coach Joel Quenneville appears to not be sold on giving the sophomore goalie the starting gig for better or for worse.
Quenneville brought in Emery to help save a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 29, and came back for back-to-back 2-1 wins against the Ottawa Senators and the Detroit Red Wings.
4. Kari Lehtonen, Dallas Stars
Kari Lehtonen may be under the radar, but that goes saying with the Dallas Stars, too. He’s gone 2-0-1 to help the Stars stay competitive, going to the seventh seed.
The competition has been soft as of late for the Stars, but Lehtonen gets good marks this week because of his clutch performance against the Calgary Flames on Sunday with the 3-2 overtime win.
Lehtonen came through holding his own for a 3-for-3 save against the Flames’ power play overall, and the Stars held up on an overtime penalty kill.
3. Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins are on a five-game streak, and Fleury’s two-win performance last week has helped considerably, stopping 35 in the 5-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche and denying the Dallas Stars of two points the game prior with a shootout win.
The Penguins aren’t letting injuries damper potential, yet again. And Fleury is showing exactly why great teams perform to their potential from their own zone, and forward.
2. Mathieu Garon, Tampa Bay Lightning
Just when the Tampa Bay Lightning looked to be at its lowest point since Steve Yzerman has shaped his team, a GMs call is answered. Not before the trade deadline, but during, and after. And that’s the relief of not having to go out and get a new goalie. When Dwayne Roloson not being able to recapture last year’s magic, Garon inevitably had to stand up. And he did, eventually.
He’s won six of his last seven, and stopped 64 of last 71 in past three wins.
As a result, Tampa (10th) is just one win out of the eighth seed, behind the Winnipeg Jets.
1. Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres
Back-to-back shutouts against the Ducks and Sharks isn’t a bad way to start the week. Follow that by taking your shutout streak to 155 minutes, and Ryan Miller is in pretty good graces these days.
He followed the loss of his shutout streak with a 5-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks. That’s 114 saves in 117.
He’s the NHL First Star of the Week with good reason. And the Sabres are now 11th in the Eastern Conference, looking to build upon that for a chance to get back in the playoffs. His 6-0-1 stretch makes him one of the hottest goalies with Garon. Miller’s stats of this week gives him the edge, however.
Can the bulk of these goalies help carry their respected teams through the playoffs — or into the playoffs, for that matter?