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Pacific Division Goaltender Rankings

ESPNNNNNNN’s Greg Wyshynski spoke with TSN Edmonton this week about the Pacific Division and Jon Gibson’s eight-year extension goaltender with the Anaheim Ducks.

He’s a solid goalie. He’s a workhorse, it’s a position you don’t have to worry about. They’re a contender. Gibson is going to give them a chance and make them a contender for a bit. -Greg Wyshynski, ESPN

Just like Vegas, the Ducks re-upped their goalie but have many questions elsewhere on the ice. While Gibson may help Anaheim compete, at this moment Fleury is in a better spot to win.

So, with that in mind, let’s rank the goaltenders 1-8 in the Pacific Division. We charted top centers earlier this week, so let’s do the same with the PAC-8’s goaltenders.

The Elite

Jonathan Quick
2017–18: 33-28-3 Record, 5 Shutouts, 2.44 GAA, .921 Save %, 37 Quality Starts
Career: 293-195-56 Record, 49 Shutouts, 2.28 GAA, .916 Save %, 305 Quality Starts

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In six separate seasons, Quick finished in the top ten for most wins and goals against average, including last season. LA’s goaltender was ninth with 33 wins, and tenth posting a 2.40 GAA. The 2012 Conn Smythe award winner’s 49 career shutouts are fourth among active goaltenders, one ahead of Marc-Andre Fleury. Quick steps his game up in the playoffs posting a 2.23 career postseason GAA and a .922 career postseason save percentage. The Golden Knights swept the Kings in the first round but LA couldn’t put the blame on their goaltender, who posted four consecutive quality starts. Without Quick in net, the series would’ve been a two-game mercy rule.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Marc-Andre Fleury
2017–18: 29-13-5 Record, 4 Shutouts, 2.24 GAA, .927 Save %, 31 Quality Starts
Career: 404-229-72 Record, 48 Shutouts, 2.56 GAA, .913 Save %, 319 Quality Starts

What more could I possibly say about Fleury? Golden Knights fans witnessed a star reborn and lead their team to the Stanley Cup finals. Fleury amazed start after start… remember he started 20 out of 21 games down the stretch? Fleury had a renaissance season becoming an All-Star for the first time since 2015, finishing fifth in the Vezina award voting, and passing 400 career wins. To top off a near-perfect season, the 33-year-old morphed into a flying brick wall in the postseason. In 20 playoff games, Fleury allowed just 47 goals, and registered 12 quality starts. Sure, I gave Quick the slight edge, but it’s clear which goalie Vegas fans would rather in net.

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4 Golden Knights In Top 100 Of Corsica Player Ratings

Corsica Hockey is one of the best advanced stats websites on the web. They’ve produced a metric that combines stats like Game Score, WAR, and others to make for what they call the “best single number representation of a player’s quality.”

727 NHL players were ranked with 24 Golden Knights making the cut. The top five are Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Alex Ovechkin.

#81 and #71 are #17 and #54 (Photo by Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights have four players in the top 100 including Jonathan Marchessault (#17/#6LW), Marc-Andre Fleury (#48/#4G), William Karlsson (#54/#18C), and Reilly Smith (#64/#9RW).

The top-rated defenseman for Vegas is Colin Miller coming in at #136 followed by Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore tied at #153.

The next highest Golden Knights after the first line is Paul Stastny at #145. Erik Haula (#214), Alex Tuch (#232), and Tomas Tatar (#313) all rank outside of the top 200.

Malcolm Subban (#726) is the second to last player in the entire rankings ahead of just Blackhawks goalie Anton Forsberg.

Newly acquired Curtis McKenzie came in at #276, the 11th highest ranked Golden Knight. Daniel Carr (#556) also ranks above five Golden Knights skaters, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (#567), Cody Eakin (#608), Jon Merrill (#618), Ryan Reaves (#628), and William Carrier (#652). The other new player, Nick Holden, tied Deryk Engelland at #356.

For those still waiting on the blockbuster Erik Karlsson trade, the Swedish defenseman came in at #25, the third-rated defenseman behind Brent Burns and Kris Letang. Oh, and the disaster that is Bobby Ryan ranked #295, which would be good for 12th place on the Golden Knights.

Fleury’s Idols Proved Success Into Late 30’s Is Not Impossible

If Fleury really is elite, he’ll continue being great well into his 30’s. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

During Golden Knights training camp last season, Marc-Andre Fleury told SinBin.vegas about players that influenced him growing up. The 33-year-old idolized and eventually studied the careers of Patrick Roy, Ed Belfour, and Martin Brodeur. All three Hall of Fame goaltenders had wildly successful careers and played well into their thirties. Fleury’s new contract extension suggests the Golden Knights believe he’ll retire a decorated Hall of Fame goaltender like the three above.

When Patrick Roy retired in 2003 at the age of 37, he left the league as the all-time wins leader with 551. At that time, Brodeur was 30 and was far behind. He remarkably retired 11 seasons later at the age of 42, passing Roy by 140 wins. Both goalies were consistently successful throughout their careers and continued to have major success after the age of 33.

Belfour was another outstanding goaltender that got better with age. After the age of 32, Eddie the Eagle posted 30 or more wins in six of his last nine seasons. He led the Stars to back-to-back Cup finals in 1999 and 2000 at the age of 34 and 35. Dallas won their only Stanley Cup in ’99 behind Belfour, who posted a ridiculous 1.67 postseason GAA.

Check out the success Roy, Brodeur and Belfour had after Fleury’s current age. Vegas fans should feel even more confident about their newly extended 33-year-old goaltender.

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MARC-ANDRE FLEURY (G) SIGNS 3 YEAR EXTENSION AT $7M AAV

Offseason Outlook: Goaltenders

Never could anyone have imagined the Golden Knights goalie depth would be tested the way it was. Five goalies used in the first 17 games gave George McPhee a pretty solid look at the present and the future of the most important position on the ice.

It would seem not much needs to happen between the pipes for the Golden Knights with Marc-Andre Fleury the clear starter, Malcolm Subban a solid backup and Oscar Dansk plus Maxime Lagace manning the crease in the AHL. However, it’s not that simple, and in fact, McPhee has plenty of decisions in the net not only this offseason but moving forward.

Marc-Andre Fleury

It’s a bit of a shame Fleury will not win any awards after that incredible season. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After posting Vezina quality numbers in the regular season and then racing out to become the Conn Smythe favorite before the final series of the playoffs, it appears Fleury’s days as a full-time starter aren’t as numbered as they appeared during the last days in Pittsburgh.

He’s mentioned playing for many more years and recently said he wants to finish his career in Vegas. Fleury has one more season left on his contract scheduled to pay him $5.75 million. Then he would become an unrestricted free agent, something the Golden Knights probably aren’t interested in letting happen.

Things do get a bit tricky though when dealing with the long-term future of a 33-year-old goalie. While it certainly appears his age isn’t getting in the way at this point, that could change at any moment. Signing Fleury to a four or five year deal is risky as his production could slip at any moment, but letting him constantly play on expiring deals keeps the control in the hands of the player rather than the organization.

If Fleury is being completely honest that he wants to finish his career with the Golden Knights, they should play the short-term contract game with him on a gentleman’s agreement that he’ll get a new deal every time he wants one and the price will be fair. There aren’t many players who any GM would be willing to go down that road with, but if there’s one, it’s probably Fleury.

There’s one concern there though, and that’s Pittsburgh. What if they come calling at some point? It’s easy to say he wants to finish his career in Vegas while sitting on stage in the same building as the Campbell Bowl, but if the idea of going back to the Penguins ever became a realistic possibility, he’d likely want to hear it out.

The best course of action for the Golden Knights is likely to keep him one year away from free agency at all times. Extend his contract each offseason so he feels comfortable, while also protecting the organization against the inevitable father time induced decline.

Malcolm Subban, Oscar Dansk, Max Lagace

Only one of these three players currently has a contract with the Golden Knights and that’s Subban. Dansk remains under Golden Knights control as he’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Lagace is an unrestricted free agent set to hit the open market on July 1st if he doesn’t reach a deal with Vegas before then.

Subban still seems to be the clear #2 behind Fleury, but his injury-riddled season has to bring pause to the organization’s desire to commit to him as the heir-apparent. Subban was hurt once during a game early in the year and then found himself unavailable two more times due to injuries that occurred during practice. Subban missed a majority of the postseason and the team opted to use Lagace as the backup over Dansk.

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Vezina Candidate Being Outplayed By Conn Smythe Favorite

Hellebuyck had no chance on this one, but the other two… (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Like all sports, NHL award voting takes place before the postseason begins. This season, both the Vegas Golden Knights and Winnipeg Jets have several award nominees. One of which is Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, who was nominated for the Vezina trophy along with Eastern Conference finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy, and amateur golfer Pekka Rinne.

Over four games against Vegas, the Vezina nominee has allowed 11 goals and has lost three straight conference final games. Not the trait of a goaltender of the year candidate. Neither is this.

It’s a great effort by Reilly Smith, that’s clear, however Hellenuyck has to have this one. Dustin Byfuglien misses his mark, Smith jumps on the puck and streaks for the net. Hellebuyck had a clear view of Smith’s approach tracking the puck immediately after the turnover. He had plenty of time to get into position. The Golden Knight pulled the trigger at the top of faceoff circle with a good wrist shot, not a great one. Byfuglien’s mishap began the breakout but the Jets goaltender could’ve bailed his teammate out.

Down a game in the Western Conference finals, a reliable goaltender makes that save. Hellebuyck did not.

And that wasn’t even Hellebuyck’s worst mistake of Game 4. He bobbled a seemingly harmless shot from Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, then allowed a rebound shot through the five-hole on Tomas Nosek.

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Vegas’ Stars Save Third Period Literally And Figuratively

The aftermath of two of the best saves Marc-Andre Fleury made all season. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Unless you are compiling unbelievable saves by Marc-Andre Fleury, the 3rd period of Game 3 will not make any of the Golden Knights highlight reels. Instead, they’ll probably want to find the film and burn it, or at least the first 14 minutes of it.

:18 in the Jets got on the board cutting the lead from 3-2. Then, they spent the next 13:42 harassing Golden Knights defensemen, dominating the neutral zone, and peppering shot after shot after shot on Fleury’s goal.

There was a lot said… It was 3-2 and they kept on pushing us and pushing us and Fleury had to make some great saves. There was a lot of chatter on the bench saying, ‘Let’s get it going here again boys.’ The first two periods we played really good hockey and then it just seemed like we didn’t have any legs in the third period.  -Gerard Gallant

The Golden Knights looked slow and at times timid. They appeared unsure trying to break out of their own zone and were forced to ice the puck six different times in the 3rd period alone. The final stats in the 3rd were staggering. The Jets led 26-15 in shot attempts, 14-7 in shots on goal, and an insane 8-0 in high danger scoring chances according to NaturalStatTrick.com. The score, however, was 1-1, mostly because of Fleury, but also because of a shift that occurred with six minutes to go.

We were flat all period. Around the six minute mark we got a chance, the crowd started getting into it. We started getting our energy back and our legs back. -Brayden McNabb

That chance, which happened at exactly the six minute mark, was a shot off the post from William Karlsson. From that moment on the Golden Knights seemed to get the game back under control. Of course, trailing by a goal the Jets weren’t going to go away, but unlike the first 14 minutes, the Golden Knights had their skating speed back. They were winning to loose pucks, they were breaking out of the zone by passing rather than chipping the puck out, and most of all, they were creating chances in the Winnipeg zone to relieve the pressure.

We calmed down. There were a couple words said on the bench to just relax and breathe. We had that goal lead and there’s no reason to panic. -Shea Theodore

The Golden Knights have always been dubbed a team without a superstar, yet in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, when everything was going wrong, their superstar goalie made 15 saves in the 3rd period to hold a one goal lead, and their superstar center created a chance that turned the tide of the game.

Marc-Andre Fleury Favorite To Win Conn Smythe; Other Betting Odds

Favorite in your heart and favorite at the book. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

With the matchup now set our friends at William Hill have set the lines for the Western Conference Finals.

For the first time in the playoffs, the Golden Knights enter as underdogs to win the series.

Series Price
Vegas Golden Knights +120
Winnipeg Jets -140

Game 1 in Winnipeg tomorrow has the same line with a total of six goals.

Game 1
Vegas Golden Knights +120
Winnipeg Jets -140

Golden Knights Puckline (+1.5 goals) -225
Winnipeg Jets Puckline (-1.5 goals) +195

Over 6 goals +100
Under 6 goals -120

William Hill also offers “exact” series prices, allowing players to pick the winner of the series and the exact number of games they’ll do it in. The Golden Knights actually have one of the favored outcomes in this proposition.

Exact Number of Games in VGK/WPG
Golden Knights in 6 +350
Jets in 7 +350
Golden Knights in 7 +450
Jets in 5 +450
Jets in 6 +500
Golden Knights in 5 +800
Jets in 4 +1200
Golden Knights in 4 +1500

Finally, Marc-Andre Fleury, having recorded his fourth shutout of the postseason, has risen to become the favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy for the most valuable player in the NHL playoffs. The next closest Golden Knight is William Karlsson.

To win Conn Smythe Trophy
Marc-Andre Fleury +450
Nikita Kucherov +500
Andrei Vasilevskiy +550
Alex Ovechkin +550
Mark Scheifele +600
Connor Hellebuyck +700
Brayden Holtby +750
Brayden Point +1200
Blake Wheeler +1500
Patrik Laine +1800
William Karlsson +2000
Steven Stamkos +2000
Jonathan Marchessault +2500
Field +2500
James Neal +4000
Evgeny Kuznetsov +4000
J.T. Miller +6000
T.J. Oshie +6000
Erik Haula 100/1
Reilly Smith 100/1
Kyle Connor 100/1
Nicklas Backstrom 100/1
Victor Hedman 125/1
David Perron 150/1
Nikolaj Ehlers 150/1

All bets are available at any William Hill Sportsbook or on the William Hill Mobile Sports app. For more details click the banner on the top of the site.

Golden Knights Goalie Coach Knew He Could Make Fleury Better, Followed Through

“Dave Prior thought that he can make him an even better goaltender,” and he did. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen) 

Marc-Andre Fleury was the #1 overall pick in the 2003 NHL Draft. He made his debut in the league at the age of 18. He’s posted 12 straight seasons with a save percentage of .905 or better. He’s been named an All Star three times, the same number of times his named is engraved on the Stanley Cup. All of this is a fancy way of saying, Marc-Andre Fleury is really good, and has been really good for a long time.

That’s why when George McPhee said this, it came as quite the shock.

One of the things that appealed to us about bringing (Fleury) in was Dave Prior thought that he can make him an even better goaltender. He was excited, he really advocated for him in our meetings. And thought that he can make him even better than he’s been. -George McPhee

Prior was right, he could, and did, make Fleury better. Fleury posted career highs in save percentage (.927), goals against (2.24), quality start percentage (67.4%), and GSAA (20.77). In his 14th season, he had the best statistical year of his career, and he’s been even better in the playoffs.

He’s helped, definitely. On the ice, I think he changed a few things for me and it’s been working good. -Marc-Andre Fleury

Of course, he wouldn’t go into anything specifically as he “didn’t want to reveal his secrets.” However, a reoccurring theme that’s come up when Prior’s name has been mentioned to Fleury over the course of the season has been a tweak in his mental approach.

I think he’s somebody that wants me to trust in my ability to do things, it doesn’t matter if I had a day off before, if I had morning skate or not. -Fleury

Allow me to read between the lines of how I took that quote, along with other similar ones this season. It seems as if Prior has tried to get Fleury to focus less on practice time and honing his skills, and more on being ready for the games. No one can ever take away the whimsical nature of Fleury, nor would you want to, but it’s possible he was getting in his own head well before the games were ever even played. Fleury has all the skills to be a tremendous goalie in the league and no matter how he fared in off-day practice or morning skate the day of the game, his confidence should never waver.

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Disrespected Flower

This guy is dominating, the Sharks are just afraid to admit it. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In back-to-back games the San Jose Sharks have scored a combined seven goals on Marc-Andre Fleury, all coming in the last two games. So sure, offensively San Jose woke up after Game 1, but they’re still down in the series 2-1.

Over the past two games, Fleury has allowed 7 goals on 89 shots. Add in his shutout from Game 1 and most would say he’s been brilliant. And if you don’t, you will after watching Fleury’s highlight reel save on Logan Couture.

Like I said, brilliant. You’d think the Sharks felt the same but…

He’s a beatable goaltender. At the end of the day, everyone is beatable. Goaltenders are meant to be beat. -Evander Kane, San Jose forward

Obviously, Kane is frustrated. The question was about his third period goal but took a turn to focus on Fleury. Kane has a heavy net presence, so maybe there is a brewing animosity.  When I spoke with Tomas Hertl after Game 2 you would’ve thought they dropped a seven-spot in a game, not a series.

We were screening Fleury, and he didn’t see nothing and that’s why we scored… We showed we can score four goals against Fleury, so they need to think about that now. -Tomas Hertl, San Jose forward

It’s not just these two, you can tell the Sharks are irked. They played arguably their best game of the series but ended up on the wrong side of overtime. Of course, it’s not over, but Wednesday becomes a must-win situation for San Jose. If the Sharks cannot tie and comeback in the series then they’ll only have themselves to blame for stupid penalties, sloppy play, and poor defense.

But hey, why not take it out on the nice guy in net instead.

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