Top 30 Playoff Performances: 15-13

Throughout the Stanley Cup Final, Coincidental Minors will be releasing a series ranking each team’s greatest individual playoff performance.

We polled our staff to determine each team’s top individual postseason effort, then ranked those players 1-30.

Want to know who had your favorite team’s greatest playoff performance and where they rank among each team’s best, then stay tuned to find out only on Coincidental Minors.

15. Ed Belfour, Dallas Stars/Minnesota North Stars

1999-99 – 23 GP, 16-7, .930 sv%, 1.67 GAA, 4 SO

Team finish – won Stanley Cup Final over the Buffalo Sabres 4-2

Putting Brett Hull’s controversial triple overtime winner aside, the Dallas Stars had a heck of a playoff run in 1999. While Joe Nieuwendyk led the way with 21 points and six game-winning goals to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, and fellow veterans Mike Modano and Jamie Langenbrunner added another 40 points combined, offense wasn’t the only impressive part of the Stars’ game that year.

Hall-of-Fame goaltender Ed Belfour had a remarkable 23-game playoff stint where he finished with a 1.67 goals against average, a .930 save percentage and a league-leading three shutouts – surely a major part of the franchise’s first Stanley Cup win. It took Belfour 617 saves throughout the playoffs to get his team the Cup – second only to Patrick Roy (who played for the Colorado Avalanche at the time) in that department.

Especially in the Cup Final series against the Sabres, Belfour proved he was the best goalie of the playoffs when he out-battled and outplayed another legendary netminder, Dominic Hasek, who finished the postseason with a 1.77 goals against and .936 save percentage.

Four games into the series, the two teams were even at two games apiece, and Belfour’s Game 5 performance was arguably the first sign that the Stars had the edge over the Sabres and certainly sent a message to Lindy Ruff and his team.

It was a goaltending duel that ended in a close 2-0 score, but Belfour proved he was the better goalie. He made 23 saves in front of a home crowd in Dallas to shutout the Sabres and give his team a 3-2 series lead heading into game six, while his counterpart Hasek crumbled under pressure and allowed two goals.

Regardless of how the series ended in Game 6, Belfour’s shutout performance in Game 5 was the turning point in the series and provided Dallas with the momentum to get the job done in six games.

While Nieuwendyk’s Conn Smythe performance will definitely be remembered, Belfour was the rock in goal his team needed him to be and allowed his teammates to be confident in his play. Offense doesn’t come without good defense, and defense is built from the net out, which is why Ed Belfour gets our tip-of-the-hat for the Dallas Stars’ best individual playoff performer.

Runner-up – Joe Nieuwendyk, 1998-99: 23 GP, 11-10-21, plus-7, 19 PIM, 3-2-5 PPP, 6 GWG, 2 OT, Conn Smythe

14. Bernie Parent, Philadelphia Flyers

1974-75 – 15 GP, 10-5, 1.89 GAA, 4 SO, Conn Smythe 

Team finish – won Stanley Cup Final over the Buffalo Sabres 4-2

1975 was a special year for the NHL and the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It marked the first time two non-Original Six teams would compete for the Cup since the 1967 expansion, and it was also the only Cup Final series between 1965-79 that didn’t feature either the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens.

While the ‘Broad Street Bullies,’ who were looking to repeat and win their second straight Stanley Cup title, had a roster lined with a good balance of toughness and skill, goaltender Bernie Parent was definitely the difference maker – especially in the final series against the highflying Buffalo Sabres.

He allowed just 12 goals in six games and notched a shutout in Game 6 to earn Philly back-to-back Cups. In 15 playoff games that year, Parent recorded a 1.89 goals against average and a .922 save percentage in addition to four shutouts. The performance trumped his playoff totals from the previous year (1974) where he competed in 17 games and finished with a 2.02 goals against and .933 save percentage, which earned him his first Conn Smythe Trophy.

Subsequently, his play in 1975 not only led the Flyers to its second Stanley Cup Championship, but also garnered Parent his second consecutive Conn Smythe Trophy, becoming the first player in NHL history to accomplish the feat two years in a row. Only Mario Lemieux has since done the same.

Parent was 30-years-old in 1975, but his age certainly didn’t show as he was the Flyers best player not only in the Cup Final series, but throughout the entire playoffs.

While Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber and Dave Schultz were certainly influential players for Philadelphia in that era, Parent was the backbone of the team when it won its first and second Stanley Cups and is still regarded as one of the franchise’s most valued players today.

Runner-up – Reggie Leach, 1975-76: 16 GP, 19-5-24, 8 PIM, 2 PPG, 2 GWG, Conn Smythe

-Jeff Blay, Executive Editor

13. Ken Dryden, Montreal Canadiens

1976-77 – 14 GP, 12-2, 1.55 GAA, 4 SO

Team finish – won Stanley Cup Final over the Boston Bruins 4-0

Perhaps the only keeping Ken Dryden from being mentioned along with Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy and Terry Sawchuk as one of the greatest goalies of all-time is the fact his career was so short. But before leaving the NHL to pursue a law degree, he was one of the most decorated goalies, winning the Stanley Cup six times in just eight seasons and recording almost as many shutouts (46) as losses (57).

It’s true the Habs were a powerhouse at the time, the 1976-77 team actually set the record for points in a season, earning 132 points by going 60-8-12, but it’s no coincidence their dynasty ended after he retired.

In 56 appearances that season, Dryden recorded 41 wins and 10 shutouts, only losing six times. After a first round bye, Montreal took on the St. Louis Blues in Round 2. It was a sweep that saw Dryden give up only four goals and a shutout in Game 2.

The New York Islanders gave the Habs their only hiccup, maybe throughout the entire season in Round 3. That they beat the best team in NHL history twice is impressive, but the Denis Potvin and Bryan Trottier led offense couldn’t muster enough goals to be a threat. In six games, the Islanders managed 13 goals and were shutout twice as Montreal went on to the Stanley Cup Final for the second straight year.

They faced the Boston Bruins who easily beat the Philadelphia Flyers who had gone to the Cup Final the previous three seasons. Dryden held the Bruins, who featured Jean Ratelle, Peter McNabb and Brad Park, to just six goals in another sweep.

Dryden’s most famous playoff run arguably came in 1971 when, after playing just six regular season games, he beat the Boston Bruins in the first round after they scored a record 399 goals led by Phil Esposito’s 76 goals and 152 points and Bobby Orr’s 102 assists and 139 points. Dryden held them to 26 goals in seven games, including just two in Boston in Game 7, en route to the Stanley Cup. But his best overall performance was undoubtedly in 1977.

Runner-up – Jacques Plante1959-60: 8 GP, 8-0, 1.35 GAA, 3 SO

-Tim Kolupanowich, Executive Editor

*Stay Tuned for 12-10.


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