By some measures the Stars' Marty Turco became an elite goal-tender this season, his first as a starter. Through Sunday he led the league in goals-against average (1.81) and save percentage (.930), and, at 27, he already is one of the most confident keepers in the game.
But when the regular season ends this Sunday, Turco will again be a rookie. He has never played in an NHL postseason match, and as Sharks coach Ron Wilson says, "A goalie should only be graded on how well he does in the playoffs."
Just four of the 16 likely starting postseason netminders have hoisted the Stanley Cup: the Maple Leafs' Ed Belfour, the Devils' Martin Brodeur (twice), the Blues' Chris Osgood (twice) and the Avalanche's Patrick Roy (four times). The Red Wings' Curtis Joseph and the Capitals' Olaf Kolzig haven't won NHL championships, but they are battle-tested veterans who have carried teams deep into the playoffs.
That leaves 10 goaltenders who still have a lot to prove. Here's how they break down.
?Novices: Turco; Jean-S�bastien Giguere, Mighty Ducks; Patrick Lalime, Senators; Dwayne Roloson, Wild.
Like Turco, Giguere had a fantastic year (33-21-6,2.30 through Sunday) but has no postseason experience. Lalime, brilliant during the regular season (he was tied for the league lead with eight shutouts), had three blanks in five games in a first-round win over the Flyers last year, but that's his only series victory in three tries. Veteran backup Roloson's playoff resume begins and ends with a rocky four-game stint as Dominik Hasek's 1999 fill-in with the Sabres.
?Big-game flops: Roman Cechmanek, Flyers; Dan Cloutier, Canucks; Tommy Salo, Oilers.
The lingering image from the Flyers' 2002 first-round loss to Ottawa is of Cechmanek screaming at his bench during Game 4. That meltdown and a 3-7 career postseason record make it less than certain that he'll hold up under playoff pressure. The Canucks lost their grip on their first-round series with Detroit last year when Cloutier let Nicklas Lidstrom's 95-footer trickle by him in Game 3. ( Vancouver won the first two games but lost the last four.) Now Cloutier is playing with a right knee sprain that limits his mobility. The inconsistent Salo's playoff mark is a gruesome 3-12, and the vision of his infamous Olympic flub while in net for Sweden last year lingers.
?Off the map: Jeff Hackett, Bruins; Nikolai Khabibulin, Lightning; Garth Snow, Islanders. (At week's end the Isles held the final playoff spot in the East.)
Hackett hasn't played a postseason game since 1997 and has only two career playoff wins. His broken right index finger could keep him on the sideline; if so, rookie Andrew Raycroft may get the nod. Khabibulin has never won a series in four tries—he lost Game 7s in '97 and '99—and hasn't been to the postseason in three years. With promising Rick DiPietro as backup, Snow, who has played in only one playoff game in the last five years, may get a quick hook if he falters.