We set out to list the top-10 goaltenders of all-time in the NHL, but quickly discovered that it's tough to compare eras.
In the early days, the goalies played without masks but didn't have to face slapshots off curved sticks. Today the goalies face a great deal more rocket-fuelled rubber, but have enough lightweight equipment to protect against a nuclear explosion. So we decided to limit this top 10 to players who plied their trades in the post-expansion era (1968 and on). That eliminates some all-time greats like Georges Vezina and George Hainsworth, but as you'll see, most of the biggest-name backstoppers of all time still make the grade. You'll note that every player mentioned on this list won at least one Stanley Cup, although that was neither coincidence nor the most important criteria. The list also omits the player many think is the best goalie in the game right now - Vancouver's Roberto Luongo. Give it a couple of years. He'll make it.
10. THE OLDTIMERS
Terry Sawchuk, Jacques Plante and Glenn Hall were three of the greatest players ever to strap on goalie pads and all three played into the expansion era. Plante and Hall even shared a Vezina Trophy in 1969 while tending twine for the St. Louis Blues and Hall picked up the Conn Smythe Trophy that year. The heyday for these three legends was before the NHL started to grow as they combined for 13 Vezinas, 271 shutouts and 1,288 wins.
9. TOM BARRASSO
The crusty American goaltender made few friends during his 18-year career but he was known as a "money goalie" who proved his worth by backstopping the Pittsburgh Penguins to Stanley Cups in 1992 and 1993. Those victories, plus the Calder and Vezina Trophies he won as a rookie in 1984, get him on this list despite a mediocre 3.23 career GAA and an .892 career save percentage.
8. BILLY SMITH
As famous for his stickwork (as in laying the lumber to the back of someone's knee) as his glovework, Smith was between the pipes for the New York Islanders' remarkable run of 19 consecutive playoff series victories and four Stanley Cups between 1980 and 1983. The fiery netminder also earned one Vezina Trophy and one Conn Smythe while putting together a career GAA of 3.05.
7. GRANT FUHR
Statistically, the worst player on this list, but he played during the highest-scoring era in league history on a team that thought defence was a foreign word. Fuhr had a 3.32 career GAA and a save percentage of .887 but everybody who saw him play knows he was a clutch goalie who gave up a lot more goals in the first period than he ever did in the third. Fuhr won five Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers, although he didn't play in the playoffs in 1990.
6. ED BELFOUR
There are a billion reasons he should be on this list, most notably his place on the career wins list (third with more than 475), his two Vezina Trophies, his Calder Trophy, his four Jennings Trophies and his Stanley Cup victory with Dallas in 1999. Belfour has a career 2.43 GAA and a .909 save percentage and as an added bonus, has been known to be very generous when trying to get out of a jam with the police.
5. BERNIE PARENT
The Broad Street Bullies were the most intimidating team in NHL history and they had a goalie that could put the fear into shooters as well. Parent won two Vezina Trophies and two Conn Smythe Trophies as playoff MVP while leading the Philadelphia Flyers to Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975. He finished his career with a 2.55 GAA and 55 shutouts to go along with 271 wins.
4. KEN DRYDEN
Dryden played only eight seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, but they were nothing short of spectacular. Including playoffs, his career winning percentage is .792 (338-89-74) and he had a career GAA of 2.24. Dryden won six Stanley Cups in his eight seasons and added five Vezina Trophies, one Calder Trophy and one Conn Smythe.
3. DOMINIK HASEK
The Dominator is one of only two expansion-era goaltenders (the other is Jose Theodore and that barely counts) to win the Hart Trophy -- and he did it twice. He also has five Vezina Trophies to his credit and a Stanley Cup title. In 15 NHL seasons he has a sparkling 2.21 GAA and an incredible .924 save percentage. All this despite the fact that early in his career he was traded straight up for Stephane Beauregard, retired or threatened to retire every second year during his career and is the king of the mysterious injury.
2. MARTIN BRODEUR
Still just 34, Brodeur has lots of time to move to the top of this list, but sits second as of now. The New Jersey Devils goaltender is second in all-time wins, third in all-time shutouts, second in playoff shutouts and third in playoff wins. If he continues at this pace for a few more seasons, he will pass record holders Terry Sawchuk and Patrick Roy and establish himself as the greatest goalie to ever play the game. He has a career GAA of 2.21, a .912 save percentage, two Vezina Trophies, five Jennings Trophies, a Calder and three Stanley Cups. Just for good measure, he has two career goals, one in the playoffs and one in the regular season.
1. PATRICK ROY
Sure, he's not the most likable guy, but he has plenty of company in that area on this list (see Hasek, Belfour, Smith and Barrasso). Roy is, however, the greatest goalie of all time by the numbers and in terms of accolades. He won four Stanley Cups and was named playoff MVP three times. He also claimed three Vezina Trophies and posted a record 551 regular-season wins, 66 by shutout, and 137 playoff wins. His career GAA was 2.54 and his save percentage .910. They even called him Saint Patrick when he was in Montreal -- well, except maybe at Mario Tremblay and Ronald Corey's houses.