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Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers will be playing in the eastern conference playoffs of the NHL starting this Saturday (2013-2014 season). I was watching TSN tonight and it was brought up that the goalies for both teams have won the gold medal in the Olympics, which I hadn't noticed till then. Carey Price won it this year (2014) at Sochi and Henrik Lundqvist did so at Turin in 2006. Price beat Lundqvist in to win gold.

Now I'm wondering how many gold medalist goalies have met in the NHL playoffs? And how many times the goalies who met in the Olympics final also met in the playoffs in the same year? can you also provide the list including the year and the players for both question.

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To go through all Olympic tournaments prior to 1998, when the NHL permitted its players to take part in the Olympics, would require serious digging.

It's possible there may be a scenario in which an Olympic gold medal-winning netminder was not a member of an NHL team, but signed with a franchise after the tournament. There's also the possibility goaltenders who won gold during their amateur careers went on to face one another in the postseason as professionals.

We went ahead and did the digging. Please see the addendum below.

In terms of the NHL-at-the-Olympics era, 2014 would mark the first time the goalies who faced each other in the gold-medal game (Carey Price, Henrik Lundqvist) went on to face each other in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

One thing which is certain: you can eliminate the Soviet Union's Vladislav Tretiak (gold medalist in 1972, 1976 and 1984) and the United States' Jim Craig (1980) from meeting any of the NHL criteria. Tretiak never played in the NHL; Craig never played a postseason game.

Below is a breakdown of the meetings between gold-medal goalies in the NHL postseason since 1998.

To briefly explain my criteria, I looked at a player's playoff meetings after they had won gold. (Although during my research, I noted a couple of instances where a gold medalist would end up facing a future medalist; hindsight is 20/20.) I included goalies who were part of Olympic teams, but may not have appeared in any contests because by Olympic standards, they are still medalists.

All instances noted are during the NHL-Olympics era.

1998: Dominik Hasek (Czech Republic)

Hasek squared off against Czech teammate Roman Cechmanek of the Flyers in the 2001 quarterfinals. Cechmanek did not appear in any of the 1998 Olympic contests.

This is the first time, regardless of role or country, gold medal-winning goalies faced each other in the NHL playoffs. (See 1992.)

Hasek faced two future gold medalists in Curtis Joseph and Ed Belfour during the 1999 playoffs. Belfour and Joseph won gold with Team Canada in 2002. Joseph appeared in one game; Belfour in none during those Olympics.

Otherwise, Hasek never squared off against a gold-medal winner.

2002: Martin Brodeur (Canada)

Update: Brodeur would face Nikolai Khabibulin (United Team, 1992) in the 2003 Eastern Conferense Semifinals. Both had captured gold by this meeting, making this the first instance where netminders from opposing countries faced off in the NHL postseason.

Brodeur met Henrik Lundqvist (Sweden) in the 2006 Eastern Conference quarterfinals between the Devils and Rangers. Both were gold medalists by this point. Canada and Sweden did not face each other in the 2006 Olympics, however.

This would be the first instance of gold medal-winning goalies from opposing countries faced each other in the playoffs. The Brodeur-Lundqvist meeting of 2006 would be the first time gold medal-winning goalies who started for their respective countries met in the postseason.

Brodeur and Lundqvist met in the 2008 Eastern Conference quarterfinals and the 2012 Eastern Conference finals as well.

2006: Henrik Lundvist (Sweden)

See 2002.

Lundqvist would face future gold medalist Marc-Andre Fleury (Canada) in the Rangers' 2008 Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Penguins. Fleury did not appear in any games for Team Canada in 2010, however.

Lundqvist would meet Fleury again in the 2014 Eastern Conference semifinals -- after both had won gold.

Lundqvist would also face Montreal's Carey Price (Canada) -- albeit briefly -- who had won Olympic gold in 2014. This marks the first time two starting gold medal-winning goalies who met in the Olympic final also met in the NHL postseason during the same season/calendar year.

2010: Martin Brodeur / Roberto Luongo / Marc-Andre Fleury (Canada)

For Brodeur, see above.

Luongo has not faced an Olympic gold medalist in the postseason since capturing his first at the 2010 Winter Games.

Update: For Fleury, see 2006. Also, Fleury faced future medalist Price -- briefly -- in Game 1 of the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals.

2014: Carey Price / Roberto Luongo / Mike Smith (Canada)

Update: See 2006 for Price; 2010 for Luongo. Smith did not appear in the 2014 postseason following Canada's gold-medal win.


ADDENDUM

Notes from prior to the NHL-Olympic era:

1994: Tommy Salo / Hakan Algotsson (Sweden)

Salo would meet future medalist Belfour (Canada, 2002) during the 1999, 2000 and 2001 Western Conference quarterfinals.

Algotsson never played in the NHL.

1992: Mikhail Shtalekov / Andrei Trefilov / Nikolai Khabibulin (Unified Team)

Shtalkenov, the Unified Team's starting goaltender in 1992, made just one postseason appearance -- 26 seconds to be exact -- for the Anaheim Ducks in 1996. He faced Khabibulin, who was the third-string netminder for the gold medal-winning 1992 Unified Team.

This marks the first time, regardless of role or country, gold medal-winning goalies faced each other in the NHL playoffs.

Trefilov made a five-minute appearance in one NHL postseason contest, but did not face a gold-medalist.

Khabibulin, in addition to facing Brodeur in 2003, would meet future gold-medalist Roberto Luongo (Canada, 2010) in the 2009 Western Conference semifinals.

1988: Sergei Mylnikov (Soviet Union)

Did not appear in any NHL postseason games.

1984: Vladislav Tretiak / Vladimir Myshkin (Soviet Union)

Neither played in the NHL.

1980: Jim Craig (United States)

Did not appear in any NHL postseason games.

1976: Vladislav Tretiak / Alexander Sidelnikov (Soviet Union)

Neither played in the NHL.

1972: Vladislav Tretiak / Aleksandr Pashkov (Soviet Union)

Neither played in the NHL.

1968: Viktor Konovalenko / Viktor Zinger (Soviet Union)

Neither played in the NHL.

1964: Viktor Konovalenko / Boris Zaytsev (Soviet Union)

Neither played in the NHL.

1960: Jack McCartan / Larry Palmer (United States)

McCartan not appear in any NHL postseason games; Palmer did not play in the NHL.

1956: Nikolai Puchkov / Grigory Mkrtychan (Soviet Union)

Neither played in the NHL.

1952: Eric Paterson / Ralph Hansch (Canada)

Neither played in the NHL.

1948: Murray Dowey (Canada)

Never played in the NHL.

1936: Jimmy Foster (United Kingdom)

Never played in the NHL.

1932: Bill Cockburn / Stan Wagner (Canada)

Neither played in the NHL.

1928: Joseph Sullivan / Norbert Mueller (Canada)

Neither played in the NHL.

1924: Jack Cameron / Ernie Collett (Canada)

Neither played in the NHL.

1920: Walter Byron (Canada)

Never played in the NHL.


The following additions account for all gold-medal winning goaltenders. Extracting some firsts from our research:

  • United States' Jack McCartan was the first gold-medal winning goaltender to play in the NHL. He signed a five-game amateur tryout contract with the New York Rangers following the Olympics. He did not see any postseason action, however.

  • Soviet Union's Vladislav Tretiak was the first gold medal-winning goalie to be drafted by an NHL team. He was selected 138th overall by the Montreal Canadiens. (United States' Jim Craig was drafted by the Atlanta Flames in 1977, prior to his gold-medal triumph.)

  • Soviet Union's Sergei Mylnikov was the first netminder with a gold medal on his resume to be drafted by an NHL team and play in the NHL. The Quebec Nordiques selected him 127th overall in 1989. He made his NHL debut that fall.

  • Nikolai Khabibulin (Phoenix) is the first gold-medal winner to start in an NHL playoff game. He was the third-string goalie for the 1992 Unified Team.

  • But technically, Mikhail Shtalenkov (Anaheim) was the first gold medal-winning starter to appear in an NHL playoff game.

  • The first goaltender to start an NHL playoff game, having won gold as his nation's starter, is Sweden's Tommy Salo (Edmonton, 1999).

  • Shtalenkov and Khabibulin were the first gold-medal winning goalies to face each other in the postseason -- regardless of role or country -- when they did so in 1996. Both were members of the 1992 Unified Team.

  • Canada's Martin Brodeur and Khabibulin were the first gold medal-winning goalies from opposing countries, regardless of role, to face off in the NHL postseason when they did so in the 2003 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

  • Brodeur and Lundqvist were the first gold medal-winning starting goalies for opposing countries to meet in the NHL playoffs when they did so in 2006.

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Great answer, I like the details. –  alamoot Jul 23 at 16:52
    
Thank you, alamoot. Your question really has me thinking about digging beyond the NHL-Olympic era. I'll be sure to add to the post if I come up with more details. –  erinbrown Jul 23 at 16:59

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