As the season draws closer, the ultimate key that used to be the goaltending, turned a page of change during last season's NHL play-offs.
Two newcomers, by the names of Antti Niemi (Chicago Blackhawks) and Michael Leighton (Philadelphia Flyers), back-stopped their respective teams into the Stanley Cup finals.
Leighton had all of 102 NHL games experience, spread out over seven seasons with four different teams, while Niemi had even less, with 42 games over two seasons with Chicago.
Not only that but their cap hits were a bargain in today’s market.
Leighton’s salary last season was $600,000 (with a raise to $1.5 million this season) and Niemi’s was $827,000 (rounded up – this season - $2 million). Just shows you that with a strong defense in front and a NHL competent goalie, it can lead you to the Promised Land.
But with every Number One or One A goaltender, there has to be a strong backup waiting in the wings to take over. A comparison sport to the importance of the goalie is the CFL and NHL quarterbacks.
None of these football teams in either league get too far, when the number one guy goes down. The same can be said at times with the NHL hockey goaltender.
So with that in mind, I thought I would have a look at the goaltending tandems in the NHL Western Conference and see who are the top five.