Top Goalie Playoff Performances by Decade

Last week, we examined some of the past top playoff performances by decade for defensemen. This week, we are going to look at goaltenders.

The 2022 playoffs have shown off some of the current elite backstops in the NHL, with Igor Shesterkin and Jake Oettinger especially displaying their talent. This year’s Stanley Cup final is still underway, but let’s look back through history and recognize some of the top goalie playoff performances by decade. For the sake of consistency, we are only going to consider the decades since the expansion draft.

Top Goalie Playoff Performances by Decade

The 1970s: Ken Dryden – 1977

The Montreal Canadiens were a powerhouse in the 1970s, winning six Stanley Cups that decade. The backstop for each of those championship teams was Ken Dryden. Though his only Conn Smythe win was in 1971, the 1977 playoffs were arguably his best.

That post-season, he was 12-2 with four shutouts while posting a save percentage of 0.932. He only allowed 22 total goals in those 14 games, resulting in a 1.56 goals-against average for the playoffs.

Honourable Mention – Bernie Parent – 1974 (12 W, 0.933 SV%, 2.02 GAA, 2 SO)

The 1980s: Patrick Roy – 1986

Today, Hall of Famer Patrick Roy is known as one of the best goalies to ever put on skates. In the 1986 playoffs, he was a 20-year-old rookie who only had 24 NHL wins to his name.

Roy was sensational, leading the Canadiens to their 23rd Stanley Cup win. His 15 wins that playoffs included four overtime wins (highlighted by a 44-save performance in game three against the New York Rangers in the Conference Finals) and one shutout.

He posted a 0.923 save percentage and a sparking 1.93 goals-against average that postseason. He was deservedly awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy for his play.

Honourable mention – Billy Smith – 1983 (14 W, 0.913 SV%, 2.69 GAA, 2 SO); Ron Hextall (15 W, 0.908 SV%, 2.76 GAA, 2 SO)

The 1990s: Martin Brodeur – 1995

The New Jersey Devils had never won a Stanley Cup before 1995, and they probably shouldn’t have that year. In the final, they were up against the President’s Trophy-winning Detroit Red Wings – a team that boasted seven future Hall of Famers. However, the Devils were able to sweep the stacked Red Wings in that final series thanks to the incredible play of Martin Brodeur.

During that playoff run, Brodeur posted a 1.67 goals-against average, 0.927 save percentage, and three shutouts. Though it was Claude Lemieux who ended up winning the Conn Smythe trophy, this performance cemented Brodeur’s reputation as an elite goalie in the NHL.

Honourable mention – Ed Belfour – 1999 (16 W, 0.930 SV%, 1.67 GAA, 3 SO); Patrick Roy – 1993 (16 W, 0.929 SV%, 2.13 GAA)

The 2000s: Jean-Sebastien Giguere – 2003

J-S Giguere is the only goalie on this list who did not win the Stanley Cup, but he definitely deserves to be here. In the 2003 playoffs, the tenth-place Mighty Ducks of Anaheim swept both the Conference Quarterfinals and the Conference Finals before facing the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Finals.

It was a goaltender duel for the ages, with Brodeur and the Devils winning the Cup in seven games, but Giguere took home the Conn Smythe Trophy. His stat line for the playoffs was 0.946 SV%, 1.62 GAA, and 5 shutouts.

Honourable mention – Martin Brodeur (16 W, 0.934 SV%, 1.65 GAA, 7 SO), Nikolai Khabibulin (16 W, 0.933 SV%, 1.71 GAA, 5 SO)

The 2010s: Jonathan Quick – 2012

The Los Angeles Kings were one of the six teams that were included in the 1967 NHL expansion from the Original Six franchises. However, it took them 45 years and the hottest playoff goalie of the 2010s for them to win their first Stanley Cup in 2012.

Quick was nearly unbeatable, posting a 0.946 save percentage, a 1.41 goals-against average, and three shutouts, all of which led the playoffs. He road these stats to a Conn Smythe Trophy win.

Honourable mention – Tim Thomas – 2011 (16 W, 0.940 SV%, 1.98 GAA, 4 SO); Corey Crawford – 2013 (16 W, 0.932 SV%, 1.84 GAA, 1 SO)

What do you think of the list? Were any notable playoff performances missed? Which ones stick out in your mind. Leave a comment below to let yourself be heard.

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