With the first round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs nearing a close, teams start to gear up for the next challenge in their Cup journies. One of the most important aspects of winning a Stanley Cup is having a hot goaltender who is able to steal a couple of games for a team when they’re not playing at their best. We saw this last year when Jordan Binnington stood on his head against Boston in Game 7 the Stanley Cup Final, propelling the Blues to their first Cup in franchise history. Throughout this year’s playoffs in the Toronto and Edmonton bubbles, some goalies have already made an impression with their elite performances. With this in mind, here are the top four goalies in the NHL bubble playoffs so far.
While the Blue Jackets are down 3-1 against the Lightning, Korpisalo has been the breakout star of the playoffs and this series. After playing great to propel the Jackets to a 3-2 series win against the Maple Leafs in the qualifiers, Korpisalo followed that up with an insane game 1 performance against the Lightning. The Russian netminder posted an obscene 85 saves and .966 save percentage in Columbus’ 3-2 5 OT loss. Korpisalo has continued to be great all series, putting up great numbers despite the Blue Jackets losing (.953 SV% and 1.57 GAA).
The Flyers have been red hot ever since they entered the bubble and that has included their 22-year-old goalie phenom. In the first round against the Canadiens, Hart has gone head to head with his childhood idol Carey Price in this low scoring series. Hart has shut down Montreal’s offense throughout the series and has propelled his Flyers to a commanding 3-1 lead. Hart’s great numbers (.958 SV% and 1.24 GAA) and consistency in net throughout the playoffs is a huge reason the Flyers are considered one of the favorites for the Cup.
Veteran superstar Price was fantastic in the qualifiers for Montreal, leading the 12 seed underdog Canadiens to a stunning 3-1 upset of the 5 seed Pittsburgh Penguins. Price has continued his great play against the top-seeded Flyers, but has not been given much support on offense. Carter Hart has completely shut down the struggling Montreal offense, causing the Habs to be down 3-1 in the series despite Price’s great play. Price’s elite numbers (.949 SV% and 1.48) and dependability in net are the only reasons the Habs are still in the playoffs right now.
While overshadowed by Korpisalo’s breakout play in this first-round series, Vasilevskiy has also been great in net and is a big reason the Lighting are up 3-1. Last year’s Vezina Trophy winner made an impressive 61 saves with a .968 save percentage in Tampa’s 3-2 5 OT marathon victory against Columbus. The elite Russian goaltender has lived up to his reputation so far in the playoffs (.932 SV% and 1.76 GAA) and has played a significant role in the Lightning’s quest for their second Stanley Cup.