There have been a lot of shocking moments during the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs, but the most surprising element of the postseason is not that Boston is out or that Colorado lost in round one to the Seattle Kraken.
The biggest surprise of the Stanley Cup playoffs has to be how lack luster the goaltending has been.
28 different goaltenders have played in a game this postseason, with the Carolina Hurricanes having the most goalies who have played in the playoffs with three netminders.
The Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Winnipeg Jets are the only five teams who only had one goalie in their crease this postseason, and all these teams have one thing in common – they were out of the postseason by the end of round one.
Of the three teams currently in the conference final, there are a lot of question marks for all of their goaltending situations. The Panthers seem to have gotten Sergei Bobrovsky playing like his old self again, but overall he has been a bit of a let down since joining the team. The Hurricanes were playing Antti Raanta when the playoffs started, but he has been out with an injury since round one leaving the net open for Frederik Andersen. The Vegas Golden Knights have been hit with a ton of injuries in the crease, but got a great showing out of Adin Hill in game six of the Stanley Cup playoffs to put the Knights past the Oilers.
Of the Dallas Stars and Seattle Kraken series, the best goaltender still playing has to be Jake Oettinger with the Stars, but even he has struggled this postseason with a .900 save percentage and having been pulled from two games.
This postseason has seen all of the top goalies exit the playoffs early. Last year’s Vezina Trophy winner, Igor Shesterkin of the Rangers, was out after round one. Additionally, all three finalists for the Vezina Trophy this season were out after round one.
Goaltending in the postseason can usually make or a break a team. While that has been the case a bit with teams like the Edmonton Oilers, we are also seeing it be not that big of an issue this year. Of all the teams still playing, none have the best goaltenders in the world, in fact their goaltending situation is very questionable, yet all of these teams are still finding ways to win games.
Having an elite goaltender is definitely a plus for an NHL team. However this season teams are proving you can despite a questionable goaltending situation. Maybe the NHL will see a shift in how teams handle their goaltending duos down the line.