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Stanley Cup Final

Binnington's place in history debated by NHL.com before Cup Final Game 6

Experts discuss top rookie goalies ahead of Blues-Bruins

by NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Jordan Binnington is having an amazing run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, tying or setting a number of records for rookie goalies.

Binnington can claim another mark in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final at Enterprise Center on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS). If the Blues win, he will be the first rookie goalie to win 16 games in one postseason.

But is it the best performance by a rookie goalie in the past 40 years?

 

[RELATED: Complete Stanley Cup Final coverage]

 

We convened the NHL.com roundtable members and asked them to pick one of the five rookie goalies to win a record 15 games in one postseason: Binnington, Ron Hextall of the Philadelphia Flyers, Matt Murray of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Patrick Roy of the Montreal Canadiens or Cam Ward of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Each goalie was selected at least once by the 10-member Panel, but one dominated the discussion.

 

Amalie Benjamin, staff writer

Patrick Roy

All of these goalies have done something incredible, something I can't even imagine having done at 20 or so years old, competing at the highest level on the biggest stage under tremendous pressure. (I was just trying to get to 9 a.m. college classes on time, which seems equally difficult.) But nowhere is the pressure greater than in Montreal, a city always starved for another Stanley Cup, no matter how recently they've won one. Being able to rise to the occasion after a 1985-86 season that didn't exactly provide an indication of what was to come is perhaps one of the most impressive barometers of greatness -- and an indication of just what Roy would become.

Video: Patrick Roy won Stanley Cup four times, three Vezinas

 

Tim Campbell, staff writer

Patrick Roy

After 33 years, the 1986 Stanley Cup Playoffs continue to stand out because of Roy and the Montreal Canadiens. In a season in which they also used Doug Soetaert, 30, and Steve Penney, 24, the Canadiens chose 20-year-old Roy to start the playoffs and the net was his alone until the Cup was raised. The regular season was something between pedestrian and decent. The Canadiens had 87 points, second in the Adams Division, five points behind the Quebec Nordiques; Roy had a 3.36 goals-against average and a .875 save percentage. The playoffs were a different tale. Roy had a 1.93 GAA, .923 save percentage, a 15-5 record and won eight one-goal games. He was 3-1 in overtime.

 

Nick Cotsonika, columnist

Jordan Binnington

OK, some recency bias here. But I'm going with Binnington because of the circumstances. He isn't just a rookie. He's a guy the Blues considered their fourth-string goalie and sent to another team's AHL affiliate last season. The Blues were in last place in the League on Jan. 3, and he made his first NHL start Jan. 7. Despite all that, he led the Blues to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, not only making saves but giving his teammates confidence. Now he's one win away from winning the Stanley Cup. Amazing.

Video: Binnington hopes to finish storybook rookie season

 

William Douglas, staff writer

Ron Hextall

How does a losing goalie win the Conn Smythe Trophy? By taking Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson, Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr and the rest of the Edmonton Oilers to seven games in the 1987 Stanley Cup Final, which is what Philadelphia's Hextall did. The 22-year-old (15-11, 2.76 GAA, .908 save percentage in the playoffs) had a swagger that rubbed off on the Flyers, who weren't intimidated by the run-and-gun Oilers. Hextall had eight road wins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs as a rookie, a record broken this season by Binnington. One stat the Blues goalie won't come close to surpassing is the combative Hextall's 43 penalty minutes in 26 postseason games. Binnington has four penalty minutes in 24 playoff games.

 

Tom Gulitti, staff writer

Patrick Roy

With the benefit of time, we know what Roy did in 1986 wasn't a case of a goalie getting hot at the right time or benefitting from playing on a loaded team. It set the standard for a career that ended with him in the Hockey Hall of Fame. It remains to be seen if anyone else in this group joins him there. Playing in a high-scoring era behind a Canadiens team that was far from a powerhouse, he put up numbers that would compare favorably in any era, going 15-5 with a 1.93 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. That's better than Binnington (2.46, .913), Murray (2.08, .923), Hextall (2.76, .908) and Ward (2.14, .920).

Video: 1986 Cup Final, Gm5: Rookie Roy caps Cup run with MVP

 

Tracey Myers, staff writer

Cam Ward

Long before an upstart "bunch of jerks" had a season full of great wins and memorable postgame celebrations in 2019, Ward was leading a different iteration of the Carolina Hurricanes to their only Stanley Cup championship in 2006. After replacing Martin Gerber in Game 2 of the first round against the Canadiens, the 22-year-old became the third rookie goalie to record 15 playoff wins (after Roy and Hextall). Ward was 15-8 with a 2.14 goals-against average, a .920 save percentage and two shutouts, becoming the first rookie goalie since Hextall to win the Conn Smythe Trophy.

 

Shawn P. Roarke, senior director of editorial

Patrick Roy

What Roy did in the spring of 1986 was amazing. He was a pedestrian goalie for the Canadiens throughout the 1985-86 season. His .875 save percentage was 21st in the NHL among goalies with at least 20 appearances. His 3.36 goals-against was eighth, but he had made only 43 starts. In the playoffs, he played every game. He went 15-5 with a 1.93 GAA, almost 1.5 goals better than his regular-season average, and a .923 save percentage, nearly a half point better than the regular season. It was the first inkling of the big-game chops that would one day lead Roy to the Hockey Hall of Fame and his status as perhaps the best money goalie in the game's history.

 

Dan Rosen, senior writer

Matt Murray

What Murray did in 2016 (15-6, 2.08 GAA, .923 save percentage) was remarkable because he had Marc-Andre Fleury, a Stanley Cup winner, lurking over his shoulder. Murray replaced Jeff Zatkoff as the Penguins starter in Game 3 of the first round against the New York Rangers. Murray allowed four goals on 89 shots (.955 save percentage) to help the Penguins win the series in five games. He got through a six-game series against the Washington Capitals, allowing 11 goals in the final five games after giving up four in a Game 1 loss. Fleury, who had been injured at the start of the playoffs, relieved him in Game 4 of the third round against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Murray was benched for Game 5. He wasn't rattled. The Penguins, down 3-2 in the series, needed the rookie again. He delivered, allowing three goals on 47 shots to win Games 6 and 7. He was equally as good in the Cup Final, allowing 11 goals in six games against the San Jose Sharks.

 

Dave Stubbs, columnist

Patrick Roy

There was much more to Roy than his hard numbers, catalogued here by others. Saint Patrick, as he would become known in Montreal, had a swagger at age 20. Maybe he didn't know enough to feel the pressure. Cup-less since the end of their four-straight streak from 1976-79, the Canadiens found a strut in front of their rookie goalie in 1986. If I were allowed to turn back the clock to 1971, I'd have chosen Ken Dryden, who led the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup and won the Conn Smythe Trophy (as did Roy) before he'd lost a single regular-season game or won the 1972 Calder as the League's top rookie. But Roy is my pick, a goalie who remains an icon in Montreal for the rookie with blood that was as cold as the ice beneath his skates.

 

Mike Zeisberger, staff writer

Patrick Roy

It can be argued that none of the goalies in this debate did more with less around him than Roy. The Canadiens finished seventh in the 21-team NHL with 87 points (40-33-7) and were not among the favorites to reach the Stanley Cup Final, let alone win it. But Roy put the team on his back in the postseason. This was a Canadiens team that had one player (Mats Naslund, 43 goals, 67 assists, 110 points) in the NHL's top 20 scorers during the regular season. As such, close games were common place and Roy had a knack of coming out ahead in them. In the five-game defeat of the Calgary Flames in the Stanley Cup Final, three of the four Canadiens wins were by one goal. It doesn't get much more clutch than that.

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