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Playoffs 2013NHL playoffs: West goalie storylines

Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 | 12:45 PM

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The eight starting goaltenders from the NHL's Western Conference. Will any of these netminders be displaced by a backup on the way to the Stanley Cup final? (Photos courtesy Getty Images) The eight starting goaltenders from the NHL's Western Conference. Will any of these netminders be displaced by a backup on the way to the Stanley Cup final? (Photos courtesy Getty Images)

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These are the goaltenders of the Western Conference who have helped (or even carried) their teams into the post-season, how they got here, and some of their best work from the lockout shortened season of 2013.
Arguably the most important position on a hockey team, the role of the goaltender is not one to be taken lightly. And this is the time of year when the spotlight shines brightest in the blue paint.

These are the Western Conference goaltenders who have helped (or even carried) their teams into the post-season, along with a look at how they got here and some of their best work from the lockout-shortened season of 2013.

Click here for Eastern Conference goalie storylines.

Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks

Wins: 19
Shutouts: 3
GAA: 1.94
Save percentage: .926

Coach Joel Quenneville decided to go with a near split in goal in the lockout-shortened season, and it paid off in the form of a Presidents' Trophy. With Ray Emery going down with an injury in the final weeks of the season, Crawford is the guy in Chicago.

Save of the season:



Jonas Hiller, Anaheim Ducks

Wins: 15
Shutouts: 1
GAA: 2.36
Save percentage: .913

It was a rough go for Hiller to start the 2013 campaign, as he was supplanted as the Ducks' No.1 for a time by (relative) newcomer Viktor Fasth. Hiller seems to have found his game, and regained the trust of coach Bruce Boudreau on the way to a Pacific Division title.

Save of the season:



Cory Schneider, Vancouver Canucks

Wins: 17
Shutouts: 5
GAA: 2.11
Save percentage: .927

The presence of deposed No. 1 goalie Roberto Luongo didn't seem to faze Schneider, the anointed goalie of the present and future. Schneider has had the 2013 season to adjust to getting the bulk of the starts, and the team hopes he's ready to start in Game 1 instead of coming off the bench later in their first-round series.

But that's the question: Will he be ready for Game 1 and fully recovered from his "body injury?"

Save of the season:



Brian Elliott, St. Louis Blues

Wins: 14
Shutouts: 3
GAA: 2.28
Save percentage: .907

Three goalies got their turn as the go-to guy with the Blues this year, as their crease was riddled with injuries. However, it seems Elliott got hot at the right time -- posting back-to-back-to-back shutouts in early April after his conditioning stint with the AHL's Peoria Rivermen.

Save of the season:



Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

Wins:18
Shutouts: 1
GAA: 2.45
Save percentage: .902

A possible Stanley Cup hangover, combined with off-season back surgery, prompted a slow start for Quick and his Kings. But last year's world-beaters are back to defend their title. The Kings won't be able to sneak up on anyone as an "underdog" this time around after proving last year that if you get hot at the right time, you can win it all.

Would it be shocking if they repeated as Cup champs? No, but they do need Quick to be at his absolute best, again.

Save of the season:




Anntti Niemi, San Jose Sharks


Wins: 24
Shutouts: 4
GAA: 2.16
Save percentage: .924

The former Stanley Cup winner was a large part of why his Sharks -- who started hot out of the gate, but hit a mid-season swoon -- are among this year's playoff entries. The team leaned on Niemi hard, as he started 43 games this season, tied with Henrik Lundqvist for the league lead.

Save of the season:



Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings

Wins: 21
Shutouts: 5
GAA: 2.13
Save percentage: .923

Faced with the prospect of being the first Red Wings goalie to miss the playoffs since Glen Hanlon and Tim Cheveldae, Howard turned it on down the stretch. He helped the team win four of their last five games, picking up points in all five, thanks to two shutout performances.

Save of the season:



Niklas Backstrom, Minnesota Wild

Wins: 24
Shutouts: 2
GAA: 2.48
Save percentage: .909

It may not have been the ideal season for the Minnesota Wild, but if their aim was to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008, mission accomplished. If they want to make it out of the first round, they'll need Backstrom to stand on his head, or recapture the form he showed in March when he strung together eight straight wins.

Save of the season:



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