As the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs comes to a close, teams are relying on their goaltending more than ever to provide them with the extra push needed to reach the finals.
While a solid netminder isn't the only measure of a Stanley Cup worthy team, it's certainly one of the most important ingredients.
In Boston, Tim Thomas was stellar during the regular season, but had a slow start in the first round of the playoffs. The 37-year-old has since rebounded, leading the Bruins to the Conference finals with a 2.03 goals against average and a .937 save percentage.
The only post-season performer this year that has posted better stats between the pipes than Thomas is Dwayne Roloson in Tampa Bay. The Lightning goalie has a save percentage of .941 and a goals against average of 2.01, all while being four years older than Thomas.
Roloson is also one of two netminders who have earned a shutout in this year's playoffs, along with Vancouver Canucks star Roberto Luongo.
Luongo is tied for the playoff lead with two shutouts, but that hasn't been enough to quiet the critics who think "Bobby Luo" lacks the ability to come through in the clutch for Vancouver. Luongo has responded nicely after being benched near the end of the Canucks first round series with the Chicago Blackhawks.
As Luongo tries to prove that he can deliver a Stanley Cup to Vancouver, Antti Niemi is looking to show he can repeat his effort from a year ago when he led the Blackhawks to a title. Niemi may have changed addresses, but he has once again helped his club play into May, this time as a member of the San Jose Sharks.
Jimmy Howard is backstopping a veteran Detroit Red Wings squad that is used to making deep post-season runs, but hasn't done so with Howard at helm.
Meanwhile, Pekka Rinne, who was as good as any goaltender during the regular season, is attempting to propel the Nashville Predators into their first ever Conference final.
So here was Dave's question to you: "Of the teams that are still alive, which has the most dependable goalie?"
And here are the answers that Dave liked best:
"The Predators aren't alive without Pekka Rinne, nor do they make the playoffs without him. He has been the most dependable goalie in the NHL all season." - Norm in Yarmouth County, NS
"Tim Thomas found his 'A' game against the Flyers and he's making the big saves, the kind that'll make the shooters wonder what to try next." - Scott in Kingston, ON
"Ask the Lightning players. They're performing as well as they are because they can depend on Dwayne Roloson." - Jeff in Saskatoon
"The Canucks have the most dependable goalie, and his name is Cory Schneider." - Kellie in Winnipeg
"I know there are haters, but Roberto Luongo won the gold medal because Canada thought he was dependable and he'll prove it again." -Hayden in Gibson's B.C.
"Antti Niemi raised the Stanley Cup and he wears a ring to prove it. The others are still dreaming that dream." - Joe in Toronto
And here is Dave's Reply to All: And the Most Dependable Goalie is…
My first thought is that it's a good thing the Flyers aren't still alive or we'd have had three other goalies to consider…I'm kidding. And how frustrating it must be for the Flyers to see where these other goalies came from. Especially Niemi and Roloson-- free agents. Rinne and Thomas-- draft picks numbered in the 200s. And with no offence to Luongo or Jimmy Howard, I'm down to those four.
Niemi is the one with the Stanley Cup ring. Roloson came close to one. Rinne was my Vezina trophy pick, which is easier to say after last night. But Tim Thomas is my choice here. I just finished saying I didn't pick him for the Vezina, and I might have to put him slightly behind Roloson after two playoff rounds, but if dependability is what we're looking for, I like Thomas for the fact he has been as good as he is now since the season started, and there is little or no thought in my mind that the Bruins will lose to Tampa Bay or in the Stanley Cup Final because of a letdown by Thomas.