Ranking the best shorthanded goalies in the NHL

It's no secret that Marty Turco's had a terrible season for the Dallas Stars, but consider this: 33 of the 117 goals he's given up this year have come when his team is shorthanded. That's over 28 percent of his total goals allowed, scored behind the 27th best penalty kill in the NHL this season.

Of course, this could be a chicken-or-the-egg scenario, too: Is the Stars' PK putrid because Turco is a sieve, or is Turco getting peppered because the Dallas special teams are "Romo fumbling the extra-point snap" awful?

A look inside the numbers reveals this: Turco is ninth in the NHL in power-play shots faced (211) but tied for last in shorthanded save percentage (.844) with Vesa Toskala of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He may not deserve all of the blame for his special teams numbers ... just more of it than the Stars killers do.

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So which goalies step up the most when their teams are shorthanded?

Here's a glance at the shorthanded save percentage leaders for goalies that have played at least 20 games this season, along with the shots they've faced and the goals scored on them through Monday night's games:

Goalie

Shots Against (rank)

Goals Against (rank)

Saves

PK SV %

Niklas Backstrom, Minnesota Wild

209 (10th)

14 (3rd)

195

.933

Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins

165 (22nd)

11 (1st)

154

.933

Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres

222 (5th)

18 (15th)

204

.919

Craig Anderson, Florida Panthers

173 (20th)

14 (4th)

159

.919

Henrik Lundqvist, NY Rangers

220 (6th)

18 (16th)

202

.918

Watch any New York Rangers game, and you can see the difference a player like Lundqvist makes between the pipes when his team is shorthanded. About 20 percent of his total goals against (92) have been scored on the power play.

As you can see, Lundqvist is sixth in shots faced on the power play. Here are the top five goalies in power-play shots faced, along with their save percentages and team penalty killing rank:

Goalie

Shots Against/Goals

PK SV %

Team PK Rank

Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary Flames

276/25

.909

4th (87.1)

Mike Smith, Tampa Bay Lightning

263/31

.882

16th (81.5)

Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Anaheim Ducks

249/26

.896

18th (81.1)

Joey MacDonald, New York Islanders

247/26

.895

14th (82.4)

Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres

222/18

.919

3rd (87.1)

Based on these numbers, Ryan Miller could be considered the biggest difference-maker among goalies in shorthanded situations.

It's another indication that something had fundamentally improved in Miller's game since he signed that contract extension last season; consider he was also fifth in shots faced in 2007-08, but with a paltry .882 shorthanded save percentage. Miller's been winning more games on his own this season than ever before ... and yet you get the feeling that come Vezina time, he'll be on the outside looking in.

Again, some interesting insight from these numbers, but it does come back to that chicken or the egg thing; is Giguere's underwhelming save percentage a product of the Ducks' less than stellar kill or a cause of it?

When you consider Jonas Hiller has a .897 PK save percentage, the blame certainly falls on the Anaheim special teams, doesn't it?

When trying to figure out the best goalie in the NHL, the shorthanded numbers are certainly something to consider. Especially if your name is Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and 41 percent (18) of your total goals against (44) this season have come while your team is shorthanded.

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