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

Proprietor of Sweet Truck, Morgan Ray, as she hands off her baked goods to a customer. (Photo courtesy of Avrinder Dhillon Photography)
Vancouver Island baker eyes move back from food truck to bricks and mortar

Storefront offers more stability amid growth in sales: Ray

Emissions from the City of Abbotsford's vehicles make up the largest share of the municipality's emissions.
File photo
Vancouver Island councillor leads campaign to reduce building-sector GHG emissions

Courtenay’s Will Cole-Hamilton pushing for building emission legislation

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Thousands protested in Victoria following the death of George Floyd in the U.S. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. not exempt: New report documents 150 years of racism and the fight against it

Booklet marks province’s 150th anniversary with call for transparency, change

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

A mobile home fire prompted a quick response from firefighters Saturday around 3:30 p.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Mobile home up in flames at Duncan RV Park

One patient burned, EHS on scene

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Works crews have begun to install roads and other infrastructure to service the Nigel Valley redevelopment project that will bring nearly 800 new housing units to Saanich over the next several years. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Prep work begins on massive Nigel Valley development in Saanich

Construction of first two developments expected to begin fall 2021, B.C. Housing says

Gregory Ould, co-founder and executive director of Blanket BC, drops off warming blankets to Our Home on Eighth shelter in Port Alberni during a tour of Vancouver Island on Feb. 19, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Blanket BC delivers warmth, hope to Vancouver Island’s homeless

Gregory Ould donated blankets, toques in five communities

Duncan Christian’s Grace George lines up a shot during the three-point portion of the BC School Sports Pandemic Basketball Challenge after taking a pass from Cam Stevens. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Duncan Christian leads the way in pandemic basketball challenge

School tops participation numbers for second time this year

The shadow cast of the Satyr Players production of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’: Linda Dohmeier as Dr. Scott, Olivia Erickson as Columbia, Brandon Caul as Rocky, Christopher Carter as Brad, Charlie Prince as Eddie, Branden Martell as Riff Raff, Jenna Morgan as Magenta, Megan Rhode as Janet and Adrien Kennedy as Dr. Frank-N-Furter (clockwise from left). (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
VIU student actors go online for 25th-annual ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’

Satyr Players theatre company to broadcast pre-recorded shadow production

Most Read