The Central Division Goalie Rankings

By Sean Fitzgerald

Jun 24, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie

Corey Crawford

(50) plays the puck during the third period in game six of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

With the new NHL alignment, we have new divisions. Here are the rankings of the Central Division Starting Goalies. (Ranks are worst to first)

7. Semyon Varlamov Colorado: Semyon and Avs were awful last season. Semyon was 11-21 last season with a career worst 90.3% save percentage. Colorado ranked 27th out of 30in goals against last season. This was a no brainer for number 7.

6.  Ondrej Pavelec Winnipeg:  Pavelic and the Winnipeg Jets are moving to Western Conference Central Division from the Eastern conference Southeast division. Pavelic was 21-20 last with a save percentage of 90.5% last season in the Eastern conference last season.  Sam Mccaig of Yahoo Sports stated “When he is on, he unbeatable, and when he is off cover your eyes.” This is why he ranked number 6 in the Central Division.

5. Kari Lehtonen Dallas: A former number #2 pick by the Atlanta Thrashers has a found a home in Dallas. He was 15-14 last season with a save percentage of 91.6%. Can he ever live up to his draft status?? Until Lehtonen does, he will remain ranked at the bottom part of the Central Division.

4. Brian Elliott St. Louis: Elliott beat out Jaroslav Halak for the starting job during last season’s playoffs. Elliott’s play in the playoffs will give him control of the Blues net in 2013-2014. Elliott regular season numbers are deceiving 14-8 with a save percentage of 90.7%. In the playoffs He upped his save percentage to 91.4%. This was the best 1/2 goalie punch in the Central Division during the 2011-2012 season, but will they be able to get back to that level this coming season?

3. Niklas Backstrom Minnesota: The Wild rely heavily on their stars. Backstrom is still a star on the Wild despite his age. When Backstrom went down with an injury, the Wild crumbled. He was 24-15 with a save percentage of 90.9% last season. Josh Harding is a great story as he backs up Backstrom, but it’s Backstrom’s play that makes or breaks the Wild’s playoff dreams.

2. Pekka Rinne Nashville: Rinne had a down year by his standards last season. He went 15-16 with a save percentage of 91.0%. People shouldn’t forget two years ago he was 43-18 with a 92.3% save percentage.  Yahoo Sports writer Sam Mccaig has Rinne ranked number 3 in the NHL, clearly we disagree. Last season’s failure was based on the fact that if Rinne gave up a goal early in the game the Preds were hard pressed to make a comeback.  After a while that pressure gets to be too much for any netminder.

1. Corey Crawford Chicago: People will call me bias for this ranking, but Crawford had the best record of the Central Division net minders last season. Crawford went 19-5 with a save percentage of 92.6% during the regular season.  In the playoffs, Crawford should have won the Conn Symthe and raised his save percentage to 93.2%.  Crawford also beat out the best goalie in the NHL according Sam Mccaig of Yahoo Sports Jonathan Quick in the Western Conference finals. Crawford beat the number 4 ranked Tuukka Rask in the Stanley Cups Finals. The numbers and record last season speak for the number 1 ranking.

Will Crawford be the best goalie in the Central Division this year? Make sure to check out TickPick for all season long. You can grab tickets for opening night for as low as $269 or even as low as $90 if you’d like to see them against fellow Central Division net minder Brian Elliot and the St. Louis Blues on October 9th.