Top 5 goalie tandems heading into 2015-16
The Dallas Stars finished last season with the league's fourth-worst goals-against average. Next season, they could have the league's best goaltending tandem.
At least that's what Stars owner Tom Gaglardi believes.
Gaglardi recently made the bold claim that signing veteran goaltender Antti Niemi to complement the team's previously designated No. 1, Kari Lehtonen, gave his club the NHL's best goalie tandem.
Many of the league's top backups, such as Martin Jones and Cam Talbot, snatched up starting jobs this offseason, shifting the goaltending landscape.
With new tandems set and old ones dismantled, let's look at which teams now have the best one-two punches between the pipes.
New York Rangers
Any goaltending tandem including the likes of Henrik Lundqvist is one to be feared, regardless of who might be second in command. Last season, Cam Talbot stole the show in New York after he stepped up for the injured Lundqvist and helped the club capture the Presidents' Trophy.
Talbot's performance landed him a starting job with the Edmonton Oilers, so the Rangers had to look for a replacement.
They found one in Chicago Blackhawks third-stringer Antti Raanta. Though his sample size in the league is small, Raanta boasts impressive numbers in what action he has seen.
He posted a 7-4-1 record with a .936 save percentage and a 1.89 goals-against average in 14 games last season, and in 2013-14, he put up an impressive 13-5-4 record in 25 games. In the event of another injury to King Henrik, there's no reason to think Raanta couldn't pick up the slack.
Defense wins championships, and since the Blackhawks have won three of the past six Stanley Cups, they've obviously done something right in that regard.
Starter Corey Crawford continues to be unappreciated despite the impressive resume he's compiled during his tenure in the league. The 30-year-old went 32-20-5 last season with a .924 save percentage, a 2.27 GAA, and near-identical numbers in the postseason.
Behind Crawford, the club will run with Scott Darling, who went 9-4-0 in 14 games with a .936 save percentage and a 1.94 GAA last season. He also chased Crawford from the net for five games during the postseason, racking up an impressive 3-1 record with a .936 save percentage and a 2.21 GAA.
Gaglardi may very well have been speaking the truth when he claimed to have the best tandem in the league.
Though Lehtonen had a forgettable season - posting a career-low .903 save percentage and tying his second-worst GAA with a 2.94 - he did tie a career high with 34 wins, suiting up in 65 contests.
Add Stanley Cup winner Niemi and you have a solid two-goalie lineup.
Though San Jose seemingly allowed him to walk, Niemi boasted a .549 win percentage with the Sharks, only failing to hit the 30-win mark during the lockout-shortened season with the team.
He put up a 31-23-7 record with a .914 save percentage, a 2.59 GAA, and five shutouts on a team that finished 15th in goals for, so he should shine with a potent Stars offense.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues tied for the league's fourth-best goals-against average last season despite employing two goaltenders that failed to play to their full potential.
Brian Elliott saw his numbers dip while playing in 15 more games than the previous season, but they were still far from poor: he went 26-14-3 with a .917 save percentage and a 2.26 GAA in 46 games.
Meanwhile, Blues fans have been waiting for Jake Allen to finally prove he can be a legitimate No. 1 in the league. His 22-7-4 record in 37 games, coupled with a .913 save percentage and 2.28 GAA, was a step in the right direction, but his poor postseason demonstrated he still has room to grow.
If Allen can finally prove his worth at the NHL level and Elliott channels his 2013-14 campaign, the Blues could dress one of the best duos in the league.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings dealt one of the league's top backup goalies this offseason and still make this list.
Though the club said goodbye to Martin Jones, Los Angeles filled the void with Jhonas Enroth. His overall numbers may not be anything special. However, he was seemingly dealt to the Stars after his impressive .931 save percentage in his final five games with the Buffalo Sabres endangered the team's efforts to tank for the first overall pick in the draft.
The 27-year-old played in front of two of the league's four worst defenses last season, but should get the help he deserves from a strong Kings club.
Enroth's playing time, however, will depend on how much of the net Jonathan Quick gives up.
Quick's numbers remained solid last season, with a .918 save percentage and a 2.24 GAA in a whopping 72 games.
Missing the playoffs should light a fire under Quick this season, and that could make him and his new partner in crime a tandem to watch out for in 2015-16.
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