It's generally accepted that no one is under more pressure in hockey — or in any sport — than the goaltenders. The relentless intensity; the magnification of any mistake; the responsibility that comes with being your team's last line of defense...it's a big burden to carry, both physically and mentally. So it goes without saying that the NHL's 30 starting goalies are under the gun from the start of Game 1 until their season comes to an end.
But some goalies scrutinized more than others. Here are the 10 NHL netminders who have to deliver the goods in 2009-10:
1. Cristobal Huet, Chicago
After signing a four-year, $22-million deal a year ago, Huet is finally the go-to goalie in Chicago. And there's no Nikolai Khabibulin around as an insurance policy (one that paid off handsomely last season); behind Huet is unproven 26-year-old Antti Niemi, with all of four NHL games to his credit. The Hawks had great success with Khabibulin as their backstop last season; now it is Huet's turn.
2. Ray Emery, Philadelphia
By now, everyone knows Emery's story. Poor work habits and a bad attitude combined to chase him out of the NHL last season and he served a one-year penance in Russia's Kontinental League. Now he's back and the salary-capped Flyers have given him $1.5 million to be their No. 1. It's a great situation for Emery as he joins one of the league's top teams and a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. He got to the Final in 2007 with Ottawa; it would make for a great story if he's able to go from persona non grata to NHL champion in one short year.