As the NHL game gets more demanding, especially for NHL starting goalies, backup goalies have become more and more important.
So important that some teams have even preferred to roll with goalie tandems instead of relying on one starter to play 85% of the games, one of those teams has been the Philadelphia Flyers.
Things have changed since Flyers general manager Ron Hextall was a star between the pipes and he explained why tandems are needed in today's NHL.
“Fifteen, 20 years ago, there’d be 18 to 20 games where you said, ‘We’re going to win all those games,’ and you’d win 90 percent of them,” Hextall said. “Nowadays, there’s not one game where you go in saying we’re going to win tonight. That’s a change in terms of workload on a goaltender. There’s close games, no 7-2 games.
“For the most part, there are one- and two-goal games and you need to be at the top of your game every night, whereas back then, you didn’t have to be at the top of your game and still win.”
Relying only on one goalie can backfire terribly as Hextall points to the Montreal Canadiens as an example.
“Every game is demanding physically and mentally. You need two guys,” Hextall said. “You saw what happened to Montreal when (Carey) Price went down, and you need two guys. It’s a load and it’s a partnership.”
“If you play a guy 70 games and he gets hurt, and now all of a sudden you’re picking a guy that you got pinned to the bench the whole year. ‘By the way, you’re our guy. Go get ‘em.’ That’s not fair,” Hextall said. “There’s a team element involved in this that people don’t talk about. To me, philosophically, that’s important.”
What do you think of Hextall's comments?