5 of the best... and 5 of the worst: Goalie Edition

NHL teams have become increasingly concerned with load management for goalies, and have started making it a priority. To do this properly, teams have invested in goalie tandems, using a 1A-1B tandem instead of a clear-cut #1 and #2. Let's take a look at the five best and the five worst NHL goalie tandems.

Worst: Seattle Kraken (Chris Driedger, Philipp Grubauer)

Chris Driedger was a formidable backup goalie in Florida for two seasons, but his play declined last season, putting up a .899 save percentage and -1.6 goals saved above expected in 27 games. The real issue with this tandem, though, was Philipp Grubauer. After years of great play in Colorado and Washington, Grubauer put up an awful .889 save percentage to go with a horrendous -33.7 goals saved above expected in 55 games.

Unless these two can rebound into form, it'll be a nightmare for the Kraken.

Best: New York Islanders (Ilya Sorokin, Semyon Varlamov)

Ilya Sorokin has very much lived up to the hype since coming to North America. In 55 games last season, he put up a stellar .925 save percentage along with 12.8 goals saved above expected. It was not the best season for the Islanders, but he certainly was not an issue. Semyon Varlamov has proven to be a solid second option, putting up a .911 save percentage and 0.7 goals saved above expected in 31 games last season. This looks to remain one of the top goalie tandems for 2022-23.

Worst: Philadelphia Flyers (Carter Hart, Felix Sandstrom)

Carter Hart showed a lot of promise in his 2018-19 rookie season, but he has since stagnated. In 45 games this past season, Hart put up a mediocre .905 save percentage along with -6.6 goals saved above expected. He can still reach that highly-touted potential that he had as a prospect, but so far, he has not. Felix Sandstrom did well in 5 NHL games last season, but it remains a small sample size. In 44 games with Lehigh Valley of the AHL last season, he only put up a .902 save percentage. This tandem can improve, but for now, it is unproven at the NHL level.

Best: Boston Bruins (Linus Ullmark, Jeremy Swayman)

Linus Ullmark put up good numbers during his time in Buffalo and continued last season. In 41 games with the Bruins, he registered a .917 save percentage to go with his 5.7 goals saved above expected. Jeremy Swayman was almost as good. In his first season with a large workload, he did great, registering a .914 save percentage alongside 4.2 goals saved above expected. Two very good goaltenders make this tandem one of the best in the NHL.

Worst: Montreal Canadiens (Jake Allen, Samuel Montembeault)

As a Habs fan, it pains me to have them here, but I have to. Jake Allen has always been a solid goaltender, but his numbers show that he is better as a backup. In 35 games last season, he put up a subpar .905 save percentage and -2.2 goals saved above expected. However, Samuel Montembeault is the real issue with this tandem. In 38 games last season, he registered a disastrous .891 save percentage and -17.3 goals saved above expected. He is not an NHL goaltender. The Habs cannot rely on either of these goaltenders night after night.

Best: Tampa Bay Lightning (Andrei Vasilevskiy, Brian Elliott)

What more needs to be said about Andrei Vasilevskiy? He is a 2-time Stanley Cup Champion who put up a very good .916 save percentage and a whopping 28.4 goals saved above expected in 63 games last season. But, his second in command was not too bad either. In 19 games last season, Brian Elliott registered a solid .912 save percentage and 3.1 goals saved above expected. He is a reliable second option for Vasilevskiy, which makes this a great tandem going into 2022-23.

Worst: New Jersey Devils (Vitek Vanecek, Mackenzie Blackwood)

This might be a hot take, but neither of these goaltenders has convinced me. In 42 games with Washington last season, Vanecek registered a mediocre .908 save percentage and -5.4 goals saved above expected. Mackenzie Blackwood has not been any better. Granted, he dealt with injuries last season, but his .892 save percentage and -12.7 goals saved above expected in 25 games do not inspire confidence at all. This tandem may prove me wrong, but for now, they are the 2nd worst in the NHL.

Best: New York Rangers (Igor Shesterkin, Jaroslav Halak)

I do not need to spend much time on Igor Shesterkin. His ridiculous .935 save percentage and otherworldly 34.1 goals saved above expected made him the easy pick for the Vezina Trophy last season. Jaroslav Halak has been a great second option in the past, but he did not show it last season. He put up a measly .903 save percentage and 0.0 goals saved above expected in 17 games with Vancouver. Still, I believe that he can find his form as a solid second option for the Rangers, which would give them an amazing goalie tandem.

Worst: Arizona Coyotes (Karel Vejmekla, Ivan Prosvetov)

Granted, the Coyotes were an awful team last season, but their goaltending certainly is nothing to write home about. In 52 games last season, Karel Vejmelka put up a .898 save percentage and -23.2 goals saved above expected. This tandem is at the bottom because the Coyotes' second option, Ivan Prosvetov, has only played 3 NHL games. He also only managed a .880 save percentage in 45 AHL games last season with Tucson. The Coyotes have no reliable goaltending option which makes this tandem the worst in the NHL.

If there is a bright side, it's that not many people will be able to view this tandem play, as the Coyotes arena officially fills 5,000 people in Arizona State University.

Best: Carolina Hurricanes (Frederik Andersen, Antti Raanta)

Frederik Andersen struggled towards the end of his time with the Maple Leafs. But, then he came to Hurricanes and exploded with an excellent .922 save percentage and an awe-inspiring 27.4 goals saved above expected. He narrowly missed being a Vezina finalist, finishing 4th in the voting. Antti Raanta has been a very good goalie on every team he has played for, and he showed it again last season, with a .912 save percentage and 3.7 goals saved above expected. The Vezina-caliber play of Andersen combined with the solid goaltending of Raanta makes this tandem, in my opinion, the best in the NHL for 2022-23.

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