Hockey

Maple Leafs’ Top 3 Goalies in the Past Two Decades

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The Toronto Maple Leafs have had some top tier goalies throughout the years. They had three household names during the 2000s and 2010s that stood out above the rest. I will be documenting why I believe they’re the Leafs’ Top 3 goalies in the past two decades.

3. Frederik Andersen

Image by Dinur Blum (@rabbi_d) via Flickr

Freddy Andersen was solid in between the pipes for the Leafs during the 2010s (2016-19). It was a breath of fresh air for the Leafs when they acquired Andersen from the Anaheim Ducks during the summer of 2016. Previously they had struggled to find a legit starting goalie who could carry the freight year after year.

During the 2016-17 campaign, Andersen was a major reason why they reached the playoffs. The Leafs weren’t expected to make the postseason that year, but their 26-point improvement from the previous season pushed their young core into uncharted territory.

However, they were unable to get past the mighty Washington Capitals in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. But they put up a good fight in a very tight series, as each game was decided by one goal and five of the six games went into overtime.

The following two seasons followed the same pattern, as the Leafs failed to go beyond the first round of the playoffs. The Boston Bruins were their opponents both years as well. The Bruins are a hated rival of the Leafs, which made it harder to swallow. During last year’s playoff series, the Leafs had a 3-2 series lead and appeared to be in control. Unfortunately, they let the series slip away and lost 4-3.

Andersen played a vital role during their three consecutive playoff appearances, even though they were eliminated in the first round each year.

His regular-season averages from 2016-19 are as follows: .918 SV% and a 2.75 GAA. Andersen also had a 107-53-26 record with ten shutouts during those three seasons.

During their three-year playoff run, Andersen compiled a record of 8-11 with a .911 SV% and 3.04 GAA.

2. Ed Belfour

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ed Belfour makes a save against the Boston Bruins period in Toronto Tuesday, Nov 19, 2002. Belfour led the Leafs to a 2-0 shutout victory. LUCAS OLENUIK / TORONTO STAR

Ed Belfour joined the Leafs near the end of his career, but his age didn’t stop him from putting up big numbers in two of the three years with the club.

During the 2002-03 season, Belfour posted a record of 37-20-5 with a career-high .922 SV%, 2.26 GAA and seven shutouts. The following year (2003-04) was impressive as well, as he had a 34-19-6 record with a .918 SV%, 2.13 GAA and ten shutouts.

The Leafs made the playoffs in his first two years. In 2002-03, they lost in the first round against the Philadelphia Flyers in seven games. The next season (2003-04), they defeated the Ottawa Senators in the first round in seven games. However, in the second round, they succumb to defeat at the hands of the Flyers yet again, but it only took six games this time.

These were his totals during the consecutive playoff appearances: a 9-11 record with a .923 SV%, 2.34 GAA and three shutouts.

Unfortunately, the 2004-05 campaign was wiped out due to a lockout. 2005-06 was a forgettable season for Belfour as the team failed to make the playoffs and his stats were lacklustre too.

1. Curtis Joseph

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Curtis Joseph makes a blocker save against the Carolina Hurricanes during game six Eastern Conference final action in Toronto, Tuesday, May 28, 2002. (CP PHOTO/Kevin Frayer)

The Leafs had some elite teams that were built for long playoff runs back in the early 2000s (2000-02), and Curtis Joseph was the backbone of those squads. “Cujo” was known for making timely saves in big games. It didn’t matter if it was regular season or playoffs, he consistently performed at a high level.

During the 2000-01 campaign, he compiled a record of 33-27-8 with a .915 SV%, 2.39 GAA and six shutouts. The following year (2001-02), Joseph had a 29-17-5 record with a .906 SV%, 2.23 GAA and four shutouts.

The Leafs had memorable playoff matchups against the Senators back in those days. I always found it interesting how they had a losing record against them during the season, but found a way to rise to the occasion once the playoffs rolled around.

The Leafs swept them in four games in the first round of the 2001 playoffs, before losing to the New Jersey Devils in the second round in seven games.

During the 2002 postseason, the Leafs played the Senators in the second round, but it took seven games to beat them. In the Conference Finals, their opponent was the Carolina Hurricanes. Unfortunately, the Leafs fell short of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals. They ended up losing the series 4-2 to the Hurricanes.

Joseph put up solid numbers during those two playoff runs, and the Leafs wouldn’t have gone as far they did without his stellar play. In the 2001 playoffs, he posted a record of 7-4 with a .927 SV%, 2.10 GAA and three shutouts. During the 2002 postseason, he had a 10-10 record with a .914 SV%, 2.30 GAA and three shutouts.

Joseph left the Leafs after the 2001-02 campaign but returned to the team in 2008-09 for his last season in the NHL. However, he was only a backup and the team missed the playoffs.

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