Western Conference playoff winners show power of goaltending

I’m pretty sure most Eastern Conference teams would love to have a Jonathan Quick of their very own… or a Mike Smith, or a Pekka Rinne, or a Brian Elliott. Heck, a nice Cory Schneider would help any of the Eastern Conference teams out in a pinch. Quite frankly, the goaltending coming out of the Eastern Conference quarter-finals so far has been underwhelming at best. The most extreme example of this was the Pittsburgh/Philadelphia series, of course. Each team’s two goalies take up alternating spots in the bottom four of GAAs during the playoffs.

Looking at the GAAs, it’s telling. The Eastern Conference goalies — the ones of the more protracted series going on in the NHL right now — are grouped together with the losing goalies of the Western Conference. Witness:

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Name Team GP   GS   MIN   W   L   OTL   EGA   GA   GAA   SA   SV   SV%   SO  
 Cory Schneider VAN 3   3   183   1   2   0   0   4   1.31   101   97   .960   0  
 Brian Elliott STL 4   3   219   3   0   0   0   5   1.37   98   93   .949   0  
 Jonathan Quick LOS 5   5   302   4   1   0   0   8   1.59   172   164   .953   1  
 Johan Hedberg NJD 1   0   36   0   1   0   0   1   1.65   14   13   .929   0  
 Jaroslav Halak STL 2   2   104   1   1   0   0   3   1.72   46   43   .935   0  
 Pekka Rinne NAS 5   5   299   4   1   0   0   9   1.81   160   151   .944   0  
 Mike Smith PHO 6   6   398   4   2   0   0   12   1.81   241   229   .950   1  
 Henrik Lundqvist NYR 6   6   363   3   3   0   1   11   1.82   190   179   .942   1  
 Craig Anderson OTT 6   6   359   3   3   0   0   12   2.00   179   167   .933   1  
 Scott Clemmensen FLA 2   1   114   1   1   0   0   4   2.11   46   42   .913   0  
 Braden Holtby WAS 6   6   386   3   3   0   0   14   2.17   216   202   .935   0  
 Tim Thomas BOS 6   6   385   3   3   0   0   14   2.18   180   166   .922   1  
 Martin Brodeur NJD 5   5   259   2   2   0   2   10   2.32   119   109   .916   1  
 Antti Niemi SAN 5   5   318   1   4   0   1   13   2.45   151   138   .914   0  
 Corey Crawford CHI 6   6   396   2   4   0   0   17   2.58   159   142   .893   0  
 Jose Theodore FLA 4   4   185   2   1   0   0   8   2.60   99   91   .919   1  
 Jimmy Howard DET 5   5   295   1   4   0   0   13   2.64   116   103   .888   0  
 Roberto Luongo VAN 2   2   117   0   2   0   1   7   3.59   64   57   .891   0  
 Ilya Bryzgalov PHI 6   6   324   4   2   0   0   21   3.89   163   142   .871   0  
 Marc-Andre Fleury PIT 6   6   337   2   4   0   2   26   4.63   157   131   .834   0  
 Brent Johnson PIT 1   0   20   0   0   0   0   2   6.00   6   4   .667   0  
 Sergei Bobrovsky PHI 1   0   37   0   0   0   0   5   8.13   18   13   .722   0

You have Johan Hedberg, he of one game, leading the Eastern Conference goaltenders. Frankly, the goaltending numbers don’t get rough until you hit Jose Theodore — that 2.60 GAA is lightened by a shutout. But the stellar, the sharp goaltending, seems to be a monopoly of the Western Conference. It therefore shouldn’t be a shock that every Western Conference series but one has been decided in five games, while the Eastern Conference’s series’ seem to be dragging on a bit longer than expected.

The teams with the stronger goaltenders are putting their opponents away, which means that next series should be tough defensive battles both. Eastern Conference? Who knows? 

About Laura Astorian

Laura Astorian is the head editor for the SB Nation blog St. Louis Game Time and has been a Blues fan from childhood. She promises that any anti-Blackhawks bias will be left at the door. Maybe.

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