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Arguments abound on East's top goalie

by Dan Rosen / Pittsburgh Penguins

Martin Brodeur is the unquestioned best goalie in the NHL and likely will own a number of all-time League goaltending records by the end of the 2008-09 season. Brodeur highlights
One of them has won the Vezina Trophy four of the last five seasons and is in line to shatter some pretty significant records this season. Another has been a finalist for the goalie MVP award multiple times.


One of them is a former No. 1 overall pick, and he's the same guy that overcame a serious injury last season to take his team to the Stanley Cup Final. Three others were drafted in the fifth round or later, but have proved so many people ever since.

They are, at least for argument's sake, the top five goalies in the Eastern Conference. Here's who we're talking about, followed by the why:

Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils -- He is the unquestioned king of all goalies in the NHL now and he'll likely have a record-breaking season.

Brodeur, who won his fourth Vezina Trophy in the last five seasons, should take down Patrick Roy's career record for wins. He's just 16 away from tying the record and has had 40 or more wins in each of his last three seasons, and eight of the last 10.

It can be argued that Brodeur is the most important player on any team in the NHL because the Devils are always a contender despite never being a top scoring team. It's all about their defense, namely No. 30.

Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins -- Fleury, the No. 1 overall pick in 2003, solidified himself as a franchise goalie during the Stanley Cup Playoffs by leading the Penguins to the Final.

Fleury finished the postseason with a 14-6 record and a 1.97 GAA. Prior to the postseason he was coming on strong to help the Penguins secure the Atlantic Division title after missing close to three months with a high ankle sprain.

With confidence finally on his side and a long-term contract in his pocket, Fleury is primed for his best season yet.

Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers -- Lundqvist, a former seventh-round pick, has become one of the most revered goalies in the NHL thanks to his dominance over the last three seasons. He is 104-58-27 with a career GAA of 2.27 and a .927 save percentage.

The Rangers, though, still haven't made it out of the Eastern Conference Semifinals with him, but Lundqvist has won 37 games in each of the last two seasons and posted a career-best 2.23 GAA last season while playing in a career-high 72 games.

Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres -- Miller owned 36 of the Sabres' 39 wins from last season and was also credited with 10 ties. He played in 76 games, tied for second most in the League with Miikka Kiprusoff behind Brodeur and Evgeni Nabokov. He posted a 2.64 GAA.

While the Sabres may be struggling to find stability at the other two positions, they are set in net with a guy who can now be called one of the League's most consistent players. Patrick Lalime is now his backup, but figure on Miller playing 70-plus games.

Tomas Vokoun, Florida Panthers -- Despite facing 2,213 shots last season, the most in the League by more than 100, Vokoun still managed 30 wins, a .919 save percentage and 2.68 GAA over 69 games. Those are outstanding numbers considering how the defense played in front of him.

Vokoun will have to be as good or better this season if Florida wants to make the playoffs for the first time since 2000. Of course, it will help if he doesn't again face more than 2,200 shots.

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com


Author: Dan Rosen | NHL.com Staff Writer

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