photo via NHL.com
Goaltending plays such a vital role in the success of any NHL franchise. More often than not, goaltending is the foundation to winning. While your number one goalie gets all the credit and blame, a lot of responsibility lies with the backup.
In the thick of a playoff race, being able to rely on your number two goaltender to win games, is a luxury enjoyed by few. It not only allows your starter to get some much needed rest but also provides confidence to the rest of the room that you can win regardless of who is in between the pipes.
Let’s take a look at the top three goaltending tandems in the NHL this season.
Frederik Andersen and John Gibson (Anaheim Ducks)
Given how poorly the Anaheim Ducks started their season, these two netminders have been stellar out on the pond. Scoring little to no goals and losing majority of their games at the start of the 2015-2016 NHL campaign, this tandem helped keep the Ducks competitive until guys like Getzlaf and Vatanen woke up.
This was a team that was sitting in last place in the NHL at one point and since then have climbed up to sit in second place in the Pacific Division. Their success took off once their offense started putting pucks in the net while the goaltending remained consistent.
Andersen and Gibson find themselves splitting games and splitting minutes, which further exemplifies the mental strength each has displayed. Neither is defined as the starting goaltender and it seems as if they thrive in the competitive atmosphere.
With nearly the same amount of starts this tandem has excellent numbers given they are sharing the crease evenly. Come playoff time look for Bruce Boudreau to most likely ride Andersen, the 26 year old netminder, who has a little more experience and seems to be trusted more by the organization.
Tuukka Rask and Jonas Gustavsson (Boston Bruins)
Although Tuukka plays majority of the minutes and majority of the games, don’t sleep on how solid Jonas Gustavsson has been behind Rask.
Gustavsson has won more than half his starts and is proving to be a very productive backup netminder. With nearly identical save percentages and goals against averages, these two have secured enough points to help the Bruins fight for a spot atop the Atlantic Division.
Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya (Florida Panthers)
Again, many of the minutes and starts have gone to veteran goaltender Roberto Luongo and he is still proving to be an elite netminder in the NHL. Although Montoya only has 18 starts on the season, he has won more than half of them and his eye popping Sv% and GAA is hard to keep unnoticed.
Honorable Mention: Jake Allen and Brian Elliot (St. Louis Blues)
In the era of analytics there are plenty of people around the league who are jumping to crunch numbers. While statistics are a piece of the puzzle and can help provide players, coaches and management with meaningful information as they strive to improve, one simple fact remains the same; goaltending is 80% of the game and without it being up to par, you simply cannot win.
Who did I miss? Let me know in the comments!