I'm reading a lot of nonsense online regarding this current Stanley Cup Final pitting the Tampa Bay Lightning's Ben Bishop against the Chicago Blackhawks' Corey Crawford, and how neither is ''elite'' and how it's a return to the days of the 1990s Detroit Red Wings winning the Cup with Chris Osgood in nets.
First things first: Bishop was nominated for a Vezina last year, and has three shutouts this postseason, two of them in Game Sevens. He beat fellow U.S. Olympian Jimmy Howard, outplayed likely Vezina winner and gold medalist Carey Price and matched the best goalie in the world, Vezina winner, gold medalist and Stanley Cup Finalist Henrik Lundqvist to get to the Final. Is he as stable and consistent as Hank? No, but no one save for perhaps Pekka Rinne is.
Regardless where you rank him, he's got to be in your top-10. He's likely in my top-5, where he only surpasses Crawford because the Hawks boast Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook as their top two defensemen. The last time the Hawks won the Cup, Conn Smythe Trophy winner Patrick Kane famously said ''Crow'' deserved the nod - and he wasn't just saying that. Sure, he has his off games, and like many of this current generation, they come relatively more often than goalies in prior decades (every 8 to 10 games instead of every 12 to 15 like in the 1990s), many of them in groups of two or three bad outings, all of them highly-publicized. But in between those sequences are usually 8-game stretches where his save percentage hovers around the .950 mark, where he'll give up a single goal per game while facing upwards of 35 shots, sometimes over 40; he's not a ''pure stopper'', he won't get the shutout, but he'll be spectacular in letting just one in. He might lose focus and turn a 5-1 sure victory into a 5-3 nail-biter with less than 5 minutes remaining, but when the pressure's mounting and he needs to wake up, he pretty much always does. And that's what elite goalies do.
Granted, Osgood never had to do any of that. He finally learned to do a decent butterfly style ten years into his NHL career, whilst with the New York Islanders. He's mostly known for his postseason prowess yet ranks 10th of all time in regular-season wins (401); on the flipside, he played with the 1990s Wings - one of three teams that contended for Cups consistently for more than a decade (with the New Jersey Devils and Colorado Avalanche) and who kept purchasing the most expensive free agents of the Dead Puck Era.
And the Dead Puck Era is also why his career playoff GAA ranks better than Patrick Roy's, who won two Cups (and two Conn Smythe Trophies along with another Cup Final in 1989) before the Devils flipped The Trap into a Cup-winning formula.
He also scored a goal, which ranks him in the Ron Hextall and Martin Brodeur category, with José Theodore and seven others. But his save percentage was below the .900 mark five times in 17 seasons, and below .910 another four times, so while he may have scored once, he got scored on a whole lot more than that. But he has two Jennings Trophies and was a finalist for the Vezina once.
Arguing his case for the Hall is funny, because some folks are passionate about the subject - regardless of which side of the argument they fall on. Ultimately, he's a ''no'' (I mean come on, Rogatien Vachon's not even in it and he played on Team Canada teams at the Canada Cup and has NHL hardware) in my book, but it's a decent argument. For the record, I'd place Theodore as a ''maybe'' and Curtis Joseph as a ''no'' ahead of Osgood. Mike Vernon as well.
Here he is wearing the Wings' classic red (then-away) uniform, from Topps' 2000-01 Heritage set (card #OSJ-CO of the The Original Six Relics, Authentic Player-Worn Jersey insert sub-set), with a white swatch: