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

Just Posted

Alberta’a chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that there are more than 328,000 vaccine appointments booked over the next seven days. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta surpasses 2 million doses administered of COVID-19 vaccine

Red Deer down to 835 active cases of COVID-19

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.
‘We did not unite around blind loyalty to one man’:Kenney faces internal call to quit

Senior backbench member Todd Loewen, in a letter posted on Facebook, called on Kenney to resign

Alberta continues to wrestle with high COVID-19 case numbers. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer up to 858 active cases of COVID-19

Province reports additional 1,799 cases of the virus

ALERT seized drugs and a variety of guns from a home in Lacombe on May 5 after an investigation. (Photo courtesy of ALERT)
Guns and drugs seized in Lacombe

Lacombe Police Service and ALERT worked together in a joint investigation

Marc Kielburger, screen left, and Craig Kielburger, screen right, appear as witnesses via video conference during a House of Commons finance committee in the Wellington Building in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. The committee is looking into Government Spending, WE Charity and the Canada Student Service Grant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau didn’t violate conflict rules over WE Charity, watchdog says

Federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion found that former finance minister Bill Morneau did violate the rules

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
Alberta RCMP investigating possible threat to police after Mirror rally

Online images show RCMP members, vehicles in crosshairs of a rifle

An Israeli attack helicopter launches flares as he flies over the Israeli Gaza border, southern Israel, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Singh calls for halt on Canadian arms sales to Israel as violence escalates in region

Government data shows Canada sent $13.7 million in military goods and technology to Israel in 2019

New homes are built in a housing construction development in the west-end of Ottawa on Thursday, May 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Budget’s foreign-homebuyers tax could bring in $509 million over 4 years, PBO says

Liberals are proposing a one per cent tax on vacant homes owned by foreign non-residents

A Canadian flag patch is shown on a soldier’s shoulder in Trenton, Ont., on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. The Canadian Forces says it has charged one of its members in the death of an army reservist from British Columbia during a training exercise at a military base in Alberta last year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg
Canadian Forces member charged in death of army reservist during training exercise

Cpl. Lars Callsen has been charged with one count of negligence

A youth plays basketball in an otherwise quiet court in Toronto on Saturday April 17, 2021. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is urging the federal and provincial governments to fight COVID-19 pandemic by focusing on proven public health policy interventions including paid sick leave, and education rather than punitive enforcement measures. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Provinces issued more COVID-19 tickets during 2nd wave: CCLA report

‘A pandemic is a public health, not a public order, crisis,’ reads the report

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Trudeau is rejecting accusations from Alberta’s justice minister that his federal government is part of a trio rooting for that province’s health system to collapse due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta justice minister sorry for saying feds, others rooting for COVID disaster

Earlier Tuesday, prior to Madu’s apology, Trudeau rejected the accusations

In this Monday, March 15, 2021 file photo a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is pictured in a pharmacy in Boulogne Billancourt, outside Paris. Questions remained Wednesday about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Canada, as Manitoba limited use of the shot and Ontario announced it planned to save an incoming shipment to use as second doses. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Christophe Ena, File
Questions remain about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot in Canada

More than two million Canadians have received AstraZeneca and 17 have been confirmed to have VITT

Most Read