December 29, 2009
(No, the first decade of the 21st century doesn't technically end until 2011. Save your bellyaching. But we've had nine NHL seasons and one stolen from us since 1999-2000, and Yahoo! Sports has decided it's time to rank the best and worst of the last "decade." Enjoy, and snark freely in the comments.)
Puck Daddy's End of Decade 2000 project has reached its final two rankings, with saves of the decade today and goals of the decade on Thursday. We hope you've found the series rewarding and as entertaining a read as we have researching and writing it.
Saves of the decade is a list of admitted limitations: We're dealing with available video footage rather than hockey folklore. ("I once saw Cujo take off his mask, catch the puck in his teeth, chew and blow a rubber bubble. Swear!")
We invite you to disclose and discuss in the comments any save you've seen that isn't found on YouTube or highlight reels, as well as the famous saves of the last 10 years that didn't make the cut. (At this point, we will honorably mention three that were on earlier drafts of this list but were eventually bumped: Then-Simeon Varlamov on Sidney Crosby; Brian Boucher's pimp-like poke check on Patrik Elias; and The Dominator flipping Marian Gaborik.)
With that, we present the 10 greatest saves of the last decade ...
When you see a goalie make a spectacular save with his stick, both he and the puck are usually much closer to the goal line. For Price to be that far up in his crease and still be able to reach back and tap the puck down is ridiculously good.
We also said something about seeing more "supernatural" moments like this during the Montreal Canadiens' centennial season. Obviously, we meant that Habs fans would feel as though they'd been slimed by the end of it...
New York Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson's stick save on Steve Downie(notes), followed by his second save on Todd Fedoruk(notes) of the Tampa Bay Lightning while clutching the top of the cage, was a very late entry to the End of Decade competition but more than worthy of a place on this list.
Granted, it's not like he stopped St. Louis and Lecavalier here; but it's also not like he's 22 anymore. Or 32, for that matter. One of the best sequences of saves in recent memory, for sure.
When YouTube maven ‘Jeffler' posted this video of the San Jose Sharks goalie's glove save on Brad Richards(notes) in the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs, the title was: "Evgeni Nabokov with the Save of the Year, Possibly Decade?"
As you'll see later, he was wrong on both counts, but that's OK: Nabby's crease-spanning glove-save of a slap-shot remains one the of the most impressive, and important, saves of the decade.
7. Kevin St. Pierre answers the question, "Why is Kevin St Pierre on this list?" (2006)
Kevin St. Pierre was a goalie for the Fort Wayne Komets of the UHL in 2006 when he turned "whoops, whoops, not good" into a stick save that was replayed a bunch on SportsCenter (so it has to be good).
In Game 6 of the conference semifinals in 2002, Montreal Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore made this spinning desperation save on Bill Guerin of the Boston Bruins with the back of his glove.
This one's always had a bit of controversy to it, as some claim Theodore threw his stick on the play. But as the overhead shot from TSN shows, as it named the save the No. 6 play of the decade, the puck hits the stick and then hits Theo's glove. Quibble if you will, but we think it's kosher.
In the dying moments of 2008, roughly three hours before the ball dropped in Times Square, the United States and Canada were playing in a rollicking back-and-forth game in the group stages of the World Junior Championships in Ottawa, and Dustin Tokarski made the unequivocal save of the year.
With the Canadians up 5-4, USA forward Colin Wilson(notes), who has three goals and three assists in three WJC games to go with the 7-14-21 line he's amassed in 16 games so far this year at BU, picked up a loose puck in the middle of the slot and had Canada's Dustin Tokarski dead to rights.
At the point, we'll just mention again that Pierre McGuire was born in New Jersey, sigh deeply, and leave it at that.
Ask a veteran Pittsburgh Penguins fan about "The Save" and they'll recall Frank Pietrangelo's miraculous glove snag against the New Jersey Devils in the Patrick Division playoffs. This Caron save against the Philadelphia Flyers in Oct. 2005 rightfully earned comparisons, as he stoned Brian Savage, fooled the goal judge and sent Sidney Crosby(notes) into hysterics.
Oh, and he also preserved a 5-5 tie late in regulation, too.
There's so much going on with Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller here besides the incredible stick save at the end. Look at his positioning on the 2-on-1 break, as he doesn't over-commit on the initial pass in order to get back to defend Marc Savard(notes). The only option for the Boston Bruins center is to dish to Paul Mara streaking down the slot, and that's when Miller makes the instinctual lunge with his stick across the empty net to for some absolute grand larceny.
2. Marty Biron's stick save may require police intervention (2000)
As the great Rick Jeanerette exclaimed: "Call a cop, he robbed him blind!"
Granted, Marty Biron of the Buffalo Sabres put himself in a bad spot by venturing out of the net and then having to dive head-long with his stick to stop a sure-thing Andy Delmore(notes) goal. But it was a hell of a recovery, wasn't it?
There were some similar saves to this one in the last decade; heck, Marty Turco(notes) had one that nearly matched it back in Feb. 2009. But Kiprusoff makes three saves of increasing difficulty on this play against the San Jose Sharks, and that leg sweep at the end was a moment of pure athleticism and concentration. As the Calgary Flames goalie would say after the game:
"Tough to control, but I tried it and it worked out this time ... I was pretty happy," he said. "Yeah, a good feeling ... but it can go anywhere when you kick it like that."