Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad (5) congratulates goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) after their overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings in an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad (5) congratulates goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) after their overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings in an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Most NHL teams using 2 goalies to get through pandemic play

Montreal, Boston, Carolina, Florida and Vegas are off to strong starts

Most NHL teams are keeping two goaltenders busy, trying to keep them fresh as the frequency of games picks up with the league shooting to squeeze 56 games into less than four months.

Montreal, Boston, Carolina, Florida and Vegas are off to strong starts while essentially alternating starts between their goalies a few weeks into the pandemic-shortened season.

Tampa Bay, Toronto and Washington, meanwhile, are among the successful teams leaning heavily on their No. 1 players between the pipes.

The Panthers are the only NHL team without a loss in regulation with Sergei Bobrovsky and Chris Driedger starting the same number of games.

“Early on in the year, we’ll probably take a look at both of them,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “The thought going into the season is that Bob is going to get a lot of games, but we’ll see.”

That was the plan going into last season, too, after Florida signed Bobrovsky to a seven-year, $70 million contract. Alas, the two-time Vezina Trophy winner had one of the worst seasons with a career-high 3.23 goals-against average and he went 1-3 in the playoffs last year.

The 26-year-old Driedger made the most of his limited chances to play, going 7-2 in the regular season with a 2.05 GAA after starting a total of three games over three seasons in Ottawa. Even with a shortened season, Driedger will likely surpass the 11 starts he had last season.

“It’s great for me to see some ice time,” he said. “I can’t complain about that. It seems like it’s more of a trend around the league. You see the guys in Boston doing it.”

The Bruins are in fact playing both Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask regularly.

Carey Price, the NHL’s MVP and Vezina winner in 2015, is sharing time with Jake Allen, who helped the Canadiens beat the Canucks on Tuesday night.

The Hurricanes have had one of the best duos in net so far. Petr Mrazek leads the league by allowing fewer than one goal a game and with a 95.4 save percentage, while James Reimer of the Hurricanes is giving up less than two goals a game.

Minnesota’s Cam Talbot, who is splitting starts with rookie Kaapo Kahkonen, expects teams to use their goalies much differently than they have in the past with a lot of games played on consecutive nights.

“Managing workload and stuff like that is going to be huge throughout this season to make sure that we put ourselves in the best possible spot to not only make the playoffs, but make a deep run here,” Talbot said.

And as much uncertainty as there is about playing in a pandemic, how a team fares in net will be a pivotal factor, as usual.

“You’re going to have to have top goaltending this year if you’re going to make the playoffs,” Nashville Predators general manager David Poile said. “I’ve been watching some games, and they’ve pointed out a couple teams have struggled in goal. I think if they don’t get their goaltending straightened away, it’s going to be hard for them to make the playoffs.”

NICE COMPANY

New York Rangers star Artemi Panarin had a goal and two assists in a win over Pittsburgh on Monday night, giving him 427 career points to rank sixth among undrafted players through 400 NHL games.

Wayne Gretzky leads the list of undrafted players through 400 games with 935 points, followed by Peter Stastny (607), Bobby Orr (508), Joe Mullen (453) and Adam Oates (433) followed by Panarin.

VIRUS HITS EACH DIVISION

With the New Jersey Devils’ COVID-19 outbreak, all three U.S. divisions have had postponed games this season. Dallas and Carolina had games pushed back in the Central, while Vegas did in the West.

DEANGELO DELAY

The Rangers aren’t attempting to find a way to terminate Tony DeAngelo’s contract after he cleared waivers. They would have to wait until after the season to buy out the 25-year-old defenceman.

New York assigned DeAngelo to the taxi squad, but doesn’t want him around the team. A trade looks like the best option for both parties, if another team wants to take a chance on him and the team retains up to half of DeAngelo’s $4.8 million salary and cap hit.

“We’re talking about finding him another place to play and letting him move on with his career and wishing him the best of luck,” Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton said.

GAME OF THE WEEK

Philadelphia has been one of the NHL’s top teams this season, but it is 0-2 against Boston. The Flyers potentially have a chance to even the season series against the Bruins with home games Wednesday and Friday night.

LEADERS (through Monday’s games)

Goals: Connor McDavid (Edmonton) and Brock Boeser (Vancouver), 8; Assists: Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton) 15; Ice Time: Seth Jones (Columbus), 21:23; Goals-Against Average: Mrazek (Carolina), 0.99; Save Percentage: Mrazek (Carolina), .954.

___

AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno and AP Sports Writer Dave Campbell contributed.

Larry Lage, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

NHL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

The Kaslo Outdoor Recreation and Trail Society will build a trail on Mount Buchanan, seen here with society secretary Stuart Heard, with support from Columbia Basin Trust. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay trails receive Columbia Basin Trust funding

Several locations in the West Kootenay are undergoing upgrades

A member of the Avalanche Canada South Rockies field team gathers important snowpack data that is used to produce daily avalanche forecasts for the region. Photo by Jennifer Coulter.
Warming temperatures increase avalanche risk heading into the weekend

Warm temperatures impact conditions, human behaviour

Police also describe a car crash in the parking lot that sent a woman to the hospital for assessment. Photo: Black Press file
Trail RCMP save senior from losing $10,000 in phone scam

Weekly briefs provided to media by Greater Trail Sgt. Mike Wicentowich

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second death reported in Kelowna General Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

A total of seven cases have been identified at the hospital: six patients and one staff

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

Most Read