The Definitive Ranking Of NHL Goalie Masks

From Nabokov to Varlamov to Bryzgalov, and everywhere in between.

Goalie masks are one of the coolest aspects of hockey — they allow the guys clad in big, goofy-looking pads and obscured by an enormous helmet to express a bit of their personality in just about any way they can dream up. Still, some masks are better than others.

The Ed Hardy Division:

30. Evgeni Nabokov’s “Long Island Skull Creature”

David Pokress/Newsday / MCT

Cool skull creature, Evgeni. Is that the Montauk Monster?

29. Miikka Kiprusoff’s “Angry Skull Chin”

The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck / AP

It looks like the cover of a Goosebumps book. Do the eyes light up?

The Uninspiring Stylized Team Logo Division:

28. Roberto Luongo’s “Blue Tongues”

Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

You’re on the trade block for a reason, Roberto.

27. Martin Brodeur’s “Devil ‘J’”

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

We’re missing a real opportunity for a Chris Christie mask.

26. Corey Crawford’s “Conformist Blackhawk”

Jae C. Hong / AP

It’s literally just Chicago’s logo, but it’s still better than a Devil “J.”

25. Carey Price’s “Club de Hockey”

Rob Carr / Getty Images

This boring helmet inspires a history lesson: The “H” inside of the large “C” in the Canadiens’ logo stands for hockey. The popular misconception is that it stands for “Habitants,” or “Habs,” the Canadiens’ nickname.

24. Sergei Bobrovsky’s “Wall of Shame”

Kirk Irwin / Getty Images

The Blue Jackets have one of the worst team names in sports (it’s supposed to honor Ohio’s participation in the Civil War, as Union soldiers wore blue jackets), so the goalie apparel is unsurprisingly bland. (It’s a blue brick wall with the Blue Jackets logo plastered over it.) Bobrovsky, however, used to wear an amazing Sideshow Bob helmet in Philadelphia. Hopefully it makes an appearance in Columbus.

23. Kari Lehtonen’s “Kari, Texas Ranger”

LM Otero / AP

Kari Lehtonen made the save of the season earlier this week. He deserves a cooler helmet. Stars backup goalie Richard Bachman, by the way, has a mask inspired by The Shining that is unbelievable.

22. Craig Anderson’s “The Roman Empire Eventually Fell to Pieces But This Logo Is a Symbol of Strength!”

The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick / AP

The last time the Senators were successful, there were still actual Roman senators in power. Give or take a few years.

21. James Reimer’s “Blue Leaf”

Gene J. Puskar / AP

That’s a maple leaf. It’s blue. *falls asleep*

20. Ondrej Pavelec’s “Blue Leaf with a Jet Flying Over It”

Jared Wickerham / Getty Images

R.I.P. Atlanta Thrashers.

19. Anders Lindback’s “Two-Faced Lightning Bolt”

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

Fun fact: Harry Potter was a Tampa Bay fan.

18. Michal Neuvirth’s “Retirement Home”

Rob Carr / Getty Images

The front of Neuvirth’s mask bears a standard Capitals logo, but he also features two nice tributes to influential goalies in his life. On the right side is a drawing of former Capitals goalkeeper Olaf Kolzig, and on the left side is a drawing of Czech legend Jiri Holeček.

17. Marc-Andre Fleury’s “Mecha-Penguin”

Jeff Zelevansky / Getty Images

Perhaps inspired by the real, YouTube-only rock band Mecha Penguin. But almost definitely not.

16. Jonas Hiller’s “Anaheim School of Architecture and Design”

Photo by Harry How / Getty Images

This is the best of the bunch in the “stylized team logos” category, but it looks like a grad student in a graphic design class made it.

The “Goalies Making a Statement” Division:

15. Jaroslav Halak’s “Defaced Blues Logo”

Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

That’s a St. Louis Blues logo being torn apart by some imaginary claws. Go team!

14. Devan Dubnyk’s “Oil in Your Eyes”

Dan Riedlhuber / Reuters

Nothing screams Edmonton like oil in your eyes.

13. Jimmy Howard’s “‘67 Mustang”

Carlos Osorio / AP

That’s a ‘67 Mustang on Jimmy’s temple, in honor of the Motor City.

12. Henrik Lundqvist’s “In Case You Forgot, I Hail from Sweden”

Elsa / Getty Images

That’s Greta Garbo and Ingrid Bergman. On the side of a professional goaltender’s hockey mask. At least he didn’t opt for a “Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” mask.

11. Antti Niemi’s “In Case You Forgot, I Hail from Finland”

Photo by Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

Although that looks like the logo of the Green Monkey team from “Legends of the Hidden Temple,” it’s actually a stylization of the Finnish national coat of arms.

10. Jonathan Quick’s “Joust”

Photo by Doug Pensinger / Getty Images

During every intermission, opposing goalies should joust. This is why the NHL doesn’t have the NFL’s ratings.

9. Jose Theodore’s “Survivor Immunity Idol”

Joel Auerbach / Getty Images

The official title of this design, made by artist David Gunnarsson, is “Tiki Gargoyles.” Jose Theodore is historically all over the place with his mask designs; he once had a sexy cat on his mask.

8. Niklas Backstrom’s “Green Wild”

Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Minneapolis Star Tribune / MCT

The Minnesota Wild have an ambiguous wild animal as their logo, and it’s up for debate what animal the silhouette represents. It could be a bear, a misshapen wolf, or any number of wild cats. Niklas Backstrom’s had few different animals on his mask during his Wild tenure, but the very fierce green panther for 2013 is the best yet.

7. Ryan Miller’s “Abstract Buffalo at the Watering Hole”

Rick Stewart / Getty Images

This is the same mask Miller wore for part of last season; he apparently hasn’t updated it yet. JUST ANOTHER VICTIM OF THE LOCKOUT.

6. Pekka Rinne’s “Crazy Wolf Creature Wearing a Hockey Mask That May Have Formely Been the Face of Another Animal”

Photo by Victor Decolongon / Getty Images

This design narrowly beat out a painting of Chris Hansen.

5. Semyon Varlamov’s “Ride of the Yeti”

Jack Dempsey / AP

A yeti rides some sort of snow creature down a Colorado avalanche on one side of Varlamov’s mask. The opposite site has an angry snowman.

4. Ilya Bryzgalov’s “Pensive Tiger”

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

Ilya Bryzgalov is one of the craziest characters in the NHL — last year, when a reporter asked him about the Penguins’ scoring threats, he replied he was afraid only of bears in the forest. He is not, presumably, afraid of tigers.

3. Tuukka Rask’s “Bear Scaring Ilya Bryzgalov”

Brian Snyder / Reuters

The Flyers lost three of four games against the Bruins last year, and that was without this mask. Tuukka Rask is doing what it takes to win.

2. Jason LaBarbera’s “Ode to CM Punk”

Photo by Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Jason LaBarbera is a HUGE WWE fan. LaBarbera’s previously donned a mask paying tribute to The Undertaker, Bret Hart, Vince McMahon, and Shawn Michaels. He’s currently got a photo of CM Punk plastered on his mask, and was probably crushed when Punk lost the title to The Rock at Royal Rumble.

1. Cam Ward’s “Pirate Summoning a Hurricane”

Grant Halverson / Getty Images

This wasn’t even close. Congratulations, Cam Ward, 2013 NHL goalie mask champion.

Grant Halverson / Getty Images

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