Detroit's Chris Osgood and Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury certainly will be considered for the award if their team wins the 2009 Stanley Cup, but they'll have to go a long way to match these three all-time Stanley Cup Final goaltending performances.
1. Terry Sawchuk, 1952 Detroit Red Wings -- The names on the Montreal Canadiens' roster for the 1952 Stanley Cup Final reads like a who's who of the Hockey Hall of Fame -- Rocket Richard, Elmer Lach, Boom-Boom Geoffrion, Dickie Moore, Doug Harvey. The Canadiens were second in the League with 195 goals. That's why what Sawchuk did to the Habs in the '52 Final is so impressive.
In just his second full NHL season, Sawchuk slammed the door on the Canadiens.
He allowed just one goal in a 3-1 win in Montreal in Game 1, and then beat the Canadiens again, 2-1, two days later in Game 2. When the series shifted to Detroit for Games 3 and 4, Sawchuk was unbeatable, as he backstopped consecutive 3-0 shutouts.
2. Ken Dryden, 1971 Montreal Canadiens -- Dryden spent the majority of his first professional season with the American Hockey League's Montreal Voyageurs. He went 6-0 in a brief NHL call-up, but no one expected what would happen in the postseason.
Just 24, Dryden almost single-handedly beat the high-scoring Bruins in seven games in the first round and the Minnesota North Stars in six games to reach the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Black Hawks.
With legends Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita firing from all angles, Chicago won the first two games at Chicago Stadium, but Montreal rebounded to take Games 3 and 4 in Montreal. Chicago won Game 5, but Dryden and the Canadiens won Game 6.
Game 7 was in Chicago, and Dryden, showing mettle beyond his years and experience, clinched the series with a 3-2 victory. It's the only time in NHL history the road team has won a Stanley Cup Final Game 7.
3. Martin Brodeur, 2003 New Jersey Devils -- Of all the highlights of the fabulous Brodeur's career, his third Stanley Cup triumph might be his greatest.
Brodeur already had four shutouts in the first three rounds of the playoffs when he arrived in the Stanley Cup Final against the upstart Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and their remarkable young goaltender, Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Giguere had won four straight one-goal games in the first round to eliminate Detroit, won a five-overtime thriller against Dallas in the second round and allowed just one goal in a four-game sweep of Minnesota in the conference finals.
Brodeur and the Devils blew all that away.
The Ducks hadn't been shut out in the postseason, but Brodeur recorded back-to-back 3-0 blankings in Games 1 and 2. Anaheim won Game 3, and in Game 4, the game's only goal came in overtime as the Ducks evened the series.
The teams split Games 5 and 6, forcing a decisive seventh game in New Jersey. Brodeur, the ultimate big-game competitor, stopped everything Anaheim threw at him, clinching the Cup with a 3-0 victory. It was the first shutout in a Stanley Cup Final Game 7 since 1965.
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