Top 5 Goalies in the Western Conference

It’s so strange how goaltenders get labeled in today’s NHL. If the team built around the goalie is loaded with talent and has had some prolonged success, that goaltender isn’t getting much respect. It’s their fault when the team loses. The forwards and defensemen get credit when the team wins.

Think of Corey Crawford and Marc-Andre Fleury. People are quick to criticize them when things go wrong but when things are going well it certainly isn’t because of them.

Then there are goalies with similar stories but a completely different approach is taken on how fans view them. Think of Henrik Lundqvist and Ben Bishop. Solid statistically. Both have pretty solid teams around them. They are often labeled as heroes and the reason that their teams win games.

Looking at statistics only, I’ve ranked the goaltenders in the Western Conference. It doesn’t take into account what kind of team they have built around them. It doesn’t consider what has happened in the past. It focuses on their statistics from this season alone. Here is the breakdown I used to give each goaltender an overall “score”:

  • High-Danger Save = 1 point
  • Medium-Danger Save = .5 points
  • Low-Danger Save = .25 points
  • High-Danger Goal Against = -2 points
  • Medium-Danger Goal Against = -4 points
  • Low-Danger Goal Against = -6 points

For those who are unfamiliar with low/medium/high-danger shots, check out this link here. All data from as of 3:oo EST on 3/6/16. Only goaltenders that have played a minimum of 1500 minutes this season qualified for the rankings.

#5 – Devan Dubnyk – Minnesota Wild – Goalie Score: 265.5

Dubnyk is one of the best goalies in the West. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
Dubnyk is one of the best goalies in the West. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It certainly isn’t like the run he had last season, but Dubnyk has still been one of the most valuable players for the Minnesota Wild this season. Something he has struggled with a bit this season is giving up a fair amount of goals from the low-danger areas on the ice. Only Jonathan Quick has given up more low-danger goals than Dubnyk has this season.

The Wild are in a tight battle with the Colorado Avalanche for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Minnesota will need Dubnyk to play much like last season if they are going to challenge in the Western Conference playoff race. Here is the breakdown of his statistics:

  • High-Danger Saves: 325
  • Medium-Danger Saves: 346
  • Low-Danger Saves: 670
  • High-Danger Goals Against: 64
  • Medium-Danger Goals Against: 29
  • Low-Danger Goals Against: 26

#4 – Semyon Varlamov – Colorado Avalanche – Goalie Score: 266.5

Speaking of the Avalanche and the Western Conference playoff race, Varlamov will be a big reason Colorado gets into the playoffs if they end up finding a way to do so. While he isn’t completely standing on his head like he has in previous seasons for the Avs, he is still carrying the load for the time being. Calvin Pickard is starting to seem as though he is taking over in Colorado and if that becomes the case there should be many teams lining up to acquire Varlamov. Here is his breakdown:

  • High-Danger Saves: 325
  • Medium-Danger Saves: 340
  • Low-Danger Saves: 510
  • High-Danger Goals Against: 70
  • Medium-Danger Goals Against: 21
  • Low-Danger Goals Against: 22

#3 – Martin Jones – San Jose Sharks – Goalie Score: 295.25

Martin Jones had a monstrous start to the seson. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
Martin Jones had a monstrous start to the seson. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

After watching Alex Stalock and Antti Niemi so far this season, how happy are Sharks fans that they have a guy like Jones around? He has five shutouts this season which is tied for second in the NHL. As the California trio has gained ground in the Pacific Division, it looks like San Jose is almost a lock for the postseason. They are going to be a team to watch in the playoffs as it doesn’t feel as though many people are talking about them as true contenders in the West. I know Jones is young and this is his first full season as a starter, but he has impressed a lot of people and could help the Sharks win a round or two this spring. Here’s the breakdown for Jones:

  • High-Danger Saves: 339
  • Medium-Danger Saves: 389
  • Low-Danger Saves: 607
  • High-Danger Goals Against: 67
  • Medium-Danger Goals Against: 34
  • Low-Danger Goals Against: 20

#2 – Ryan Miller – Vancouver Canucks – Goalie Score: 296.25

Huh? Hold on a minute, let me go double-check this.

Nope, it’s right. Miller certainly hasn’t been the reason for the Canucks slowly falling their way down the standings in the West this season. Despite playing less than many of the top goaltenders, Miller has quietly has a good season between the pipes. One thing he has done better than most of the goalies in the West is limit the low-danger goals against. He has given up just 15 of those for the entire season. Here is Miller’s breakdown:

  • High-Danger Saves: 330
  • Medium-Danger Saves: 370
  • Low-Danger Saves: 493
  • High-Danger Goals Against: 64
  • Medium-Danger Goals Against: 31
  • Low-Danger Goals Against: 15

#1 – Corey Crawford – Chicago Blackhawks – Goalie Score: 367.75

Corey Crawford has been one of the best playoff goaltenders in the NHL over the past few seasons. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
Corey Crawford has been one of the best playoff goaltenders in the NHL over the past few seasons. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Remember what I said about Crawford? The guy continues to get no respect despite the season he is having right now. With apologies to Henrik Lundqvist, Braden Holtby and Cory Schneider, Crawford should be the Vezina winner if the season ended today. Although Patrick Kane has been tearing it up offensively, the Blackhawks haven’t played their best hockey in front of Corey Crawford this season. There are plenty of nights where he gets completely hung out to dry by the team in front of him. He has more high-danger saves than any goalie in the NHL. If he continues this pace for the rest of the season, he should be receiving some hardware. Here is Crawford’s breakdown:

  • High-Danger Saves: 390
  • Medium-Danger Saves: 374
  • Low-Danger Saves: 707
  • High-Danger Goals Against: 59
  • Medium-Danger Goals Against: 31
  • Low-Danger Goals Against: 24

That’s it for the five best goaltenders in the Western Conference. Come back tomorrow to check out the East.

Thank you for reading. You can follow me on Twitter at @jordan_dix. Feel free to tweet at me or comment below with your thoughts on who the best goalies in the West are.

(Photo courtesy of Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)