Two nights ago, Montreal Canadiens goalie Jaroslav Halak did something special. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=jaroslav+halak&iid=8640183″ src=”4/b/6/1/Washington_Capitals_v_d6c4.jpg?adImageId=12677828&imageId=8640183″ width=”234″ height=”187″ /]
It was more than just defeating the Washington Capitals in a playoff game. It was more than winning a must-win Game 6. It was more than carrying a team on his back.
It was quite easily one of the best games a goalie has played in the past 20 years, or maybe even of all-time.
Look, I’m the first to admit that I’m a huge Carey Price fan. I think he’s the future of the franchise, and as such, should be treated the same as other #1 goalies in the NHL.
But there’s no doubt that Halak has the ability to be a #1 goalie as well. And this summer, the team will need to trade one of the two as the town isn’t big enough for the both of them (they are both restricted free agents, and should be getting hefty pay raises).
Anyways, back to the game, and Halak put on one of the greatest games I’ve seen a goalie play in the 25-plus years since I’ve been watching hockey.
So I put some thought into it, and came up with a list of other great goalie games I’ve seen in my lifetime (starting with the 1990 season, the first games I can truly remember).
Remember, these are some of the greatest goalie games I remember, you may remember them differently. I took different things into consideration, such as overtime. If a goalie make 70 saves in a four-period OT game, that’s only 10 saves a period, and may not be weighed the same as a 55-save performance in regulation.
As well, since I’m a Habs fan, I’m more likely to remember great Habs games.
Anyways, on to my top five list:
Forget the Hart trophy, the Vezina trophy, being pulled two straight years in the playoffs, etc.
To me, I’ll always remember Jose Theodore’s first ever playoff game. Down 3-0 to the New Jersey Devils, Habs management decided to put in Theodore.
Smart call, as Theodore was awesome, making 56 saves in a 4-3 triple overtime win. The Habs would lose Game 5, but this game has to be one of the highlights of Theodore’s career.
No video footage, so here’s a highlight of his great save against the Bruins in the playoffs in 2002:
Sure, maybe this game is ranked pretty high because it’s still fresh in my mind, but Halak put on an impressive display of goaltending.
If degree of difficulty of saves had anything to do with it, Halak would be top of the list. He just didn’t stop the league’s most potent offence since the 1980s, almost every save seemed to be a highlight reel.
Here’s the highlights:
You could take almost any game of Jean-Sebastien Giguere in the 2003 playoffs with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
There was the fact that he allowed only one goal in a four-game sweep of the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference finals. There was the 60-save performance in a five-overtime game against the Dallas Stars in the second round.
But the highlight was definitely the very first game of the first round. Up against the defending Stanley Cup champions, playoff rookie Giguere did everything for his team but score. He had a 63-save three-overtime win against the Detroit Red Wings, an NHL record for a goalie making his playoff debut.
The Ducks went on to sweep the Wings, and Giguere would win the Conn Smythe trophy as the playoff MVP, despite being on the losing team in the finals.
Here are some highlights from that season:
Yes, some people are comparing Halak’s game to Roy’s Stanley Cup runs in 1986, 1989 and 1993, but those aren’t the ones that stand out for me.
In 1994, life was good. The Habs were the defending Stanley Cup champs, and hopes were high. They were playing the hated Boston Bruins in the first round. But Roy came down with appendicitis, and had to miss game 3 as he underwent surgery.
Of course, many people remember the fact he came back for the next game, which the Habs won. But Game 5 was unbelievable, as Roy made 62 saves in a 2-1 overtime win in Boston.
To have a game like that on the road is great, but to do it a few days after having surgery for appendicitis is nothing short of amazing.
I couldn’t find footage of that game, so here’s footage of Roy from the 93 Cup run:
Ever see Ray Bourque in the all-star accuracy competition (the one where you have to hit four targets at each corner of a net)? Bourque was the ultimate master at that, winning it eight times, and twice he went four-for-four.
Simply saying, the guy was as accurate as anyone in the game, and when he went up against Ron Tugnutt and the lowly Quebec Nordiques on March 21, 1991, odds are that Bourque had the opportunity to score a lot of goals.
Especially since he took 19 shots on net.
The entire Boston Bruins team (one of the top teams at the time, with Bourque, 50-goal man Cam Neely and three others that scored at 26 goals that season) took 73 shots on Tugnutt, who was playing for the horrible Quebec Nordiques (a team that won only 16 games that year).
Yet Tugnutt saved 70 of those shots, for a 3-3 tie. Unbelievable. That means the Bruins averaged more than 20 shots a period, and yet still had trouble beating Tugnutt. The performance was so impressive, that members of the Bruins congratulated Tugnutt on the ice afterwards.
Without a doubt, the greatest goaltending performance in my lifetime.
Here’s the footage: