They're eccentric. They're a different breed of human. They're goalies.
For as much as we love sitting through highlight reels of beautiful goals, the goaltenders also provide us with plenty of "Holy [Gretzky]" moments during a hockey season.
There were 72,154 shots taken on NHL goaltenders last season and over 31,000 shots through three months of the 2011-12 campaign. Some of those shots go in the net, while others are denied the opportunity because a goaltender makes a split-second decision and their timing is perfect in order to keep the puck from going by them.
There were numerous great saves in 2011, but we had to whittle our list down to the 10 best. Read on for out 10 best saves of 2011.
10. Pekka Rinne gloves Vincent Lecavalier (Oct. 28, 2011)
Sure, Vinny gets handcuffed a bit by his first touch of the puck, but Rinne is practically waiting for it by the time Lecavalier gets the shot off. Rinne's already extended himself anticipating an earlier shot and just shimmies a bit with the glove to grab it off the line.
9. Rinne gets saved by his own stick (Jan. 23, 2011)
From our post in January:
There's so much that makes this one of the top highlights of the 2010-11 NHL regular season: The fact it was in overtime and on the power play; the quality of Horcoff's diving backhand shot that actually beat Rinne; and, of course, the Predators goaltender's stick suddenly becoming a sentient creature and doing its master's bidding by making a miraculous save.
8. Jimmy Howard denies any and all Sedins (Jan. 8, 2011)
First off, awesome set play by the Canucks. More teams should attempt to catch the defense asleep like that. Second, the Sedins are the ones usually giving other goalies nightmares. Those two saves would keep the Detroit in the game as they would eventually win 2-1 after a shootout.
7. Jaroslav Halak's double kick save on Henrik Zetterberg (Jan. 20, 2011)
The goal would have counted had it gotten past Halak because Justin Abdelkader did not make a kicking motion, and had the Blues netminder not gotten a second crack at the puck, his first try would have directed the puck in.
6. Dan Ellis robs Brandon Dubinsky, Ducks immediately score (March 9, 2011)
How often do we see this? A goaltender makes a great stop at one end and his team takes it up ice and scores at the other end.
5. Devan Dubnyk's goal line robbery of Olli Jokinen (March 26, 2011)
If you freeze the video the moment Jokinen receives the pass you'll rattle your brain trying to figure out just how he was unable to put that home. Then you watch it again and amaze at the reflexes of the 6-foot-5 Dubnyk to get over like that.
Teammate Magnus Paajarvi backed Dubnyk for "Save of the Year" status after the game:
"If that isn't the save of the year, I don't know. He saved me because I was on the ice and would have been minus."
4. Ilya Bryzgalov's all-out dive to deny Joe Thornton (April 9, 2011)
Why you heff be so athletic?
3. Unlike Ellis, Ducks, Cam Ward stones Tim Brent, but not Kris Versteeg (Feb. 3, 2011)
Not always does your team support you with a goal after making an amazing save. Case in point Cam Ward. He puts a sour end to Toronto's pretty passing play, but Kris Versteeg gets the last laugh. It would be just another example that night during a 3-0 Leafs win that Ward would fail to get support from his teammates.
2. Cam Ward eats up Keith Ballard's sure-goal (Dec. 15, 2011)
Ballard scored 33 scores in five seasons with the Phoenix Coyotes and Florida Panthers. Now in his second year with Vancouver, he's only tallied three while battling injuries. This is a rough example of why his production has decreased. And this time Ward's teammates helped him out during a 4-3 Hurricanes victory.
1. Dwayne Roloson sticks it to the Habs (March 17, 2011)
How many 41-year old goalies are pulling off these kind of acrobatics? Everything was going right for Roloson and the Lightning after they acquired the goaltender on Jan. 1. This save actually occurred in the middle of a stretch that saw Tampa Bay lose eight of 10 games, but we all know how the story played out after that ... and how it's crumbled apart since.
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