Admittedly, the concept of a “goalie tandem” is becoming increasingly archaic in the NHL.
For example, the Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights used five different goalies last season and had three of them available in the playoffs. “Goalie quintet rankings” does have a nice ring to it.
So in building our list for the 2023-24 NHL season, the goalie tandem rankings took into account that some teams go three deep, whether it’s another veteran on the roster or a blue-chip prospect in their system. Obviously the netminder that’s third on the depth chart isn’t going to carry the weight of primary duo, but as the Knights will testify, it’s always good to have backups — and a backup plan.
These rankings were formulated through discussions with a variety of goalie experts — coaches, analytics gurus, former players — as well as through stats from sites like Evolving Hockey, Money Puck and Hockey Reference. Rosters are through Oct. 2.
This season, we asked former NHL goalie and current MSG analyst Marty Biron for his input in the rankings as well.
Keep in mind that these are a combination of past performance and projections for the 2023-24 season. As you’ll see concerning one key injury, the teams are judged on what these tandems should look like this season rather than what they’ll look like on opening night. Let the debates begin!
Rookie sensation Connor Bedard should create a lot of goals for the Blackhawks this season … although probably not enough to compensate for how many these goaltenders are going to surrender.
Mrazek was a minus-6.3 goals saved above expected in 2022-23 on a Chicago team that was just trying to maximize its draft lottery odds. His partner Alex Stalock was a bit better, but he left as a free agent to the Ducks. Söderblom, who was 2-10-2 with an .894 save percentage, moves up the depth chart. Commesso, a 2020 Blackhawks’ second-round draft pick, decided to forgo his senior year at Boston University to sign with Chicago last April. He and Söderblom have some potential, but it’s hard to imagine any goalie excelling at this stage of the rebuild.
Merzlikins, 29, was the worst goalie in the NHL last season based on the analytics: Last in goals saved above expected (minus-25.9) and last in goals saved above replacement (minus-22.5). Tarasov, 24, was also a below-replacement goalie, going 4-11-1 in 17 games last season (.892). The Jackets claimed Spencer Martin from the Canucks, who showed he wasn’t ready for primetime last season in 29 games with Vancouver, the most he’s played in the NHL.
On paper, the goaltending is by far the weakest aspect of the 2023-24 Blue Jackets, but it’ll be interesting to see these two playing behind an improved blue line — including a healthy Zach Werenski — and with a new coach in Pascal Vincent.
Blackwood was the goalie of the future for the New Jersey Devils, but was the embodiment for the law of diminishing returns. He posted a .918 save percentage as a rookie in 2018-19, but was sub-.900 in each of the last two seasons. He turns 27 in December and gets a fresh start with the Sharks — a team in transition that just shipped out the reigning Norris Trophy winner to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
He joins Kahkonen, who was the second worst goalie in goals saved above expected (minus-24.6) in 2022-23. San Jose had the worst team save percentage (.881) in the NHL last season.
Somewhere in the multiverse, Carey Price is about to enter the sixth season of his eight-year contract with Montreal. Alas, we haven’t seen Price on NHL ice since April 2022.
As for active Canadiens, Montembeault was one of the most pleasant surprises of the 2022-23 season, finishing with a .901 save percentage and 11.8 goals saved above expected. He’s in the second campaign of a two-year deal that pays him $1 million per season. One of the smartest waiver claims of the last several seasons. Allen’s stats have slipped in each of the last two seasons, including an .891 save percentage in 42 games last season. Meanwhile, Primeau has more than proved himself in the AHL and is knocking on the NHL door. He’s 3-12-2 in 21 games with the Canadiens since 2019-20.
One goaltending expert felt the Habs were a bit high here. “I’d have Montreal behind Seattle and Anaheim … and maybe even San Jose. At least Blackwood has upside,” they said.
Despite rumors he could be on the move in the offseason, Gibson remains a Duck. He signed through 2026-27 with a $6.4 million annual cap hit and partial trade protection. That’s one reason the 30-year-old remains with the Ducks. The other reason is that he’s put together a string of analytically challenged seasons, having finished in the negative goals saved above expected for four straight campaigns. He was just above average in goals saved above replacement last season (1.4).
Steady backup Anthony Stolarz is now with the Panthers, but Stalock was solid in his comeback season with Chicago (.908 save percentage). Dostal played well in 19 games with the Ducks last season after three strong campaigns with the AHL San Diego Gulls.
GM Steve Yzerman made significant changes to the Red Wings’ goaltending after last season, which saw them finish 25th in team save percentage (.890).
Gone are Alex Nedeljkovic and Magnus Hellberg, both of whom ended up with the Penguins. Arriving are Reimer, who posted his first sub-.900 save percentage of his 13-year NHL career (.890) with the Sharks last season; and Lyon, whose 15 games with the Panthers (.912) practically saved their season when Sergei Bobrovsky was out down the stretch.
Cossa was taken 15th overall in the 2021 draft, but is only just getting on the path for his pro career.
We’re only five seasons removed from Binnington leading the Blues to the Stanley Cup championship — with a Game 7 win on the road in Boston, no less — and finishing fifth for the Vezina Trophy. But boy does it feel longer than that.
His save percentage has declined in each of the last four seasons, posting a minus-9.2 goals saved above expected last season. He made more headlines for almost fighting another goalie than for anything he did between the pipes. Joel Hofer, who has eight NHL games to his credit, moves in as his backup. Hofer, 23, played decently last season.
“Binnington is better than 26th, but I get the ranking for a goalie with no backup experience,” one goaltending expert said.
After finishing with the worst team save percentage in 2021-22 (.880), the Kraken inched up to 30th overall last season (.886). Martin Jones, now with Toronto, bolstered their goaltending before regressing to the mean.
This season, it’s a familiar trio trying to lead Seattle to their second consecutive playoff berth. Grubauer had 8.9 goals saved above replacement last season in 39 starts, but he was pivotal in their Stanley Cup Playoffs run, especially in their win over the Colorado Avalanche. Can he build on that in 2023-24?
Driedger didn’t play with the Kraken last season due to injury, and figures to battle with Daccord for the backup job. Daccord is 2-5-1 in 10 games over two years with the Kraken, sporting an .884 save percentage.
Biron said he’d rank the Kraken “between 20-25” overall. Another goaltending expert said, “I’d be tempted to move Seattle higher based on Grubauer actually being better than his raw numbers last season. But if the concern is depth behind him, that’s fair.”
This ranking for the Sabres is entirely contingent on Levi being who many believe he will be this season. The 21-year-old had a stirring seven-game tease in 2022-23 (5-2-0, .905 save percentage) and is expected to be among the best rookies in the NHL this season.
Luukkonen, 24, saw his first full seasons in 2022-23 and posted a minus-5 goals saved above expected. The veteran Comrie was considered a free-agent bust last season in 19 games, but could factor in the mix this season.
One goalie expert we spoke with believed that Comrie was the better goaltender than Luukkonen last season, but had the misfortune of playing a lot when the Sabres’ defense was most banged up. “They turned down decent trade offers for UPL. I could see him gone, but head coach Don Granato likes him, so he may keep trying to make it happen with UPL,” they said. “Levi is the real deal, but plays with an aggression that may get targeted after teams see him once.”
Vanecek gave the Devils exactly what they were lacking in previous seasons: competence and consistency in goal. He finished with a .911 save percentage in 52 games played, with a 5.1 goals saved above expected. He gave them a chance to win, with a .667 quality starts percentage.
But it’s Schmid who will ultimately determine if this ranking is too high or too low. The 23-year-old had a .922 save percentage and a 2.13 goals-against average in the regular season and helped lead the Devils to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs (.921 save percentage, two shutouts in nine games).
The Devils have a team that can contend for the Stanley Cup, but some believe that’s despite their goaltending. “Not sold on Jersey at all in goal and would be tempted to drop them a few spots too,” one goaltending expert said.
The Golden Knights made the world safe for teams to do the “incredible lineup in front of average but spendthrift goaltending” thing. Talbot and Copley have a combined cap hit of $2.5 million; combined, that would make them the 12th highest paid skater for the Kings.
Can this tandem be strong enough behind what is a loaded Los Angeles roster? It certainly could if Copley proves last season’s breakout wasn’t an aberration and Talbot finds the form he had with the Minnesota Wild after an awkward, middling campaign in Ottawa.
“I might move the Kings down based on individual goalie skill and adjusted results,” one goaltending expert said, “but behind that team it’s likely to be masked.”
Connor McDavid can pretty much do it all on the ice save for one thing: He can’t play 60 minutes in goal.
That established, it’s not hyperbole to say that Skinner saved the Oilers’ season in 2022-23. The rookie had 25.4 goals saved above replacement and added just over four wins to Edmonton’s record in the standings. Meanwhile, Campbell had a negative-17 goals saved above replacement and cost the Oilers nearly three wins — after receiving a large free-agent contract to “fix” their goaltending issues. Whoops.
The Oilers are running it back with this duo, which averaged out to be 15th in team save percentage (.900). Obviously, they’re hoping Campbell’s struggles were a one-season hiccup and he showed flashes of the goalie they thought they had signed during four relief appearances in the playoffs (.961 save percentage).
When Kyle Dubas took over the Penguins’ hockey operations, many wondered what he’d do to change up Pittsburgh’s goaltending. After four seasons as the primary starter, and catching his share of grief for their playoff disappointments, Tristan Jarry was an unrestricted free agent. But Dubas didn’t rule out bringing the 28-year-old back, given the landscape of available netminders in the NHL.
And bring him back he did, and rather emphatically, with a five-year, $26.875 million contract. It was a vote of confidence for Jarry, who has proven himself to be a capable if inconsistent regular season goalie.
Casey DeSmith, who was Jarry’s partner in goal for the last few seasons, was traded to Montreal in the Erik Karlsson deal and then shipped over to the Vancouver Canucks. Former Detroit Red Wings goalie Nedeljkovic is the new backup, after spending most of last season in the AHL playing at a below replacement level in 15 games with Detroit. That season in which he was a Calder Trophy finalist with Carolina feels like more than three years ago, doesn’t it?
There were rumors that Hart might be traded in the offseason, what with the Flyers having a new general manager and with Hart one year away from restricted free agency. That he remains in Philly is a testament to how he’s found his groove again over the last two seasons and especially in 2022-23: .907 save percentage, 2.94 goals-against average and 16.7 goals saved above replacement.
Unfortunately, Sandström has gone in the opposite direction and was a below-replacement level goalie last season.
The wild card is Petersen, who arrived in that three-way deal for Ivan Provorov. Can he find that form that enabled him to post a .911 save percentage in 35 games during 2020-21, which earned him a three-year, $15 million contract extension that he’s never lived up to yet?
Much of the “Mullett Magic” last season inside the Coyotes’ new (temporary) home was produced by their goaltenders, who combined for 14th in the NHL in home save percentage (.904) while placing 25th on the road.
Vejmelka placed 14th in the NHL in goals saved above expected last season (11.1), his second straight strong season for the desert dogs. Ingram posted a higher save percentage (.907) than Vejmelka in his 27 appearances, with a strong quality starts percentage (.577).
One year ago, the Capitals made one of the most dramatic changes to their goaltending in recent memory, dropping both Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek in order to sign Kuemper to a five-year, $26.25 million contract after his Stanley Cup win with the Avalanche.
Did the gamble pay off? Not entirely. Washington ended up with the same team save percentage (.898) that they had in 2021-22, which necessitated the change in goal. That’s despite Kuemper playing rather well in 57 appearances, with a .908 save percentage, five shutouts, 19.4 goals saved above average and adding 3.3 wins to the Caps. His backup Lindgren wasn’t terrible (.899 save percentage in 31 games), but analytically delivered a below-replacement season.
“Washington would move up a couple of spots on my list,” Biron said. “I like both those goalies but the team in front of them is not good. Plus a new coach will make it a hard season.”
The Knights are one of the most difficult teams to figure out in these goalie tiers. Hill had the best two months of his career at the right time, taking the Golden Knights’ crease and leading them to the Stanley Cup last season with an incredible .932 save percentage. He earned a two-year contract extension for services rendered. Hill, 27, is a career backup that has posted good numbers (.910 career save percentage) in stops with Arizona, San Jose and Vegas. But he’s never played more than 30 games in the regular season.
Meanwhile, Thompson looked like he was going to contend for the Calder Trophy with a .915 save percentage as the Knights’ starter. But his season was derailed by injuries, allowing Hill to eventually take the crease. Thompson will have to win it back from the playoff hero in 2023-24.
Again, it’s a tandem whose job is basically “don’t mess this up” behind an elite championship roster. It’s a formula that worked to bring a championship to Vegas, and hopefully a raucous banner raising party on opening night.
The Senators staged an expensive reunion this summer when they inked Korpisalo to a five-year, $20 million contract as a free agent.
Back in 2016, the Lake Erie Monsters won the Calder Cup as champions of the American Hockey League. In goal, they had a two-headed monster: Korpisalo played nine games, while Anton Forsberg played 10 games in their playoff run. They worked well together as a tandem, and GM Pierre Dorion reunited them in the hopes of stabilizing a position that ranked 20th in team save percentage last season (.895) and saw the team use seven different goalies.
Forsberg was solid for the Senators last season, with a .902 save percentage and 8.1 goals saved above expected. But if they’re going to be the team that takes the leap forward in the Atlantic Division, they’re going to need Korpisalo to be the goalie he was last season (.914 save percentage with the Jackets and Kings) and not the ineffective starter he was in the prior two seasons. In other words, they better hope that wasn’t a “contract year” anomaly from the 29-year-old.
PLAN THE PARADE!
Obligatory snark about the Maple Leafs’ Stanley Cup drought aside, this could end up being a strong netminding group for Toronto. Samsonov finished 10th in the league in goals saved above expected (18.0) and added over four wins to the Leafs in the standings. He did what he needed to do to help Toronto win its first playoff series since 2004, although his playoff numbers weren’t stellar.
The official word on Matt Murray, last year’s other part of the tandem, is that he and his $4.69 million cap hit are on long-term injured reserve. But one assumed that if Kyle Dubas was no longer with the Leafs, neither would his reclamation project. Instead, Toronto signed free agent veteran Martin Jones, who had a few strong months for Seattle last season before trailing off. The wild card here is Woll, who has shown promise in very limited regular-season and playoff action over the last two years.
Biron likes what he sees. “Toronto would move up a few spots for me,” he said.
Wait, wasn’t Darryl Sutter’s system supposed to boost goalie’s numbers? Guess that’s one reason Sutter’s no longer behind the bench, as Calgary was 23rd in team save percentage last season (.890) and the goalie they’re paying $8 million in salary (Markstrom) saw his save percentage drop by 0.30 year over year.
Hopefully new coach Ryan Huska can maximize the potential of this group, because there’s a ton of it. We know how good Markstrom can be when he’s on — witness that .922 save percentage in 2021-22. Vladar was well above replacement two seasons ago before having an average 2022-23.
But it’s Wolf that bears watching. He’s owned the American Hockey League for two seasons and is going to knock on Calgary’s door until he busts it down.
“I like the Flames’ depth and the upside that Wolf gives them,” one goaltending expert said.
This ranking is complicated by the health of Francouz, who is expected to start the season on injured reserve. He’s terrific when healthy, with a .919 career save percentage over four seasons with Colorado. But “when healthy” has certainly been the operative phrase. The team could lean on Justus Annunen, a 23-year-old Finn with four career NHL appearances, as the backup early on.
“Colorado’s lack of depth is concerning if Francouz isn’t healthy — even if Georgiev proved himself capable,” one goalie expert said.
The faith that Avalanche management put into acquiring Georgiev from the Rangers last summer was rewarded with an outstanding season: a league-leading 40 wins with a .918 save percentage, five shutouts and 21.9 goals saved above expected. The most impressive number was 62 games played, which was 28 more than his previous season high. He showed he could handle the regular-season workload and performed well in their first-round loss to Seattle as well.
For what it’s worth, Biron thinks we’re underestimating this tandem. “I would have to Colorado higher on the list, and inside the top 10,” he said.
That Bobrovsky had a lackluster regular season — a step down from his comeback 2021-22 campaign, to be sure — was completely overshadowed by the triumphant return of “Playoff Bob.” He helped orchestrate the Panthers’ incredible first-round upset of the Bruins, including a series-turning save on a Brad Marchand breakaway in Game 5. He made 63 saves in their four-overtime classic win over Carolina. He finished the postseason with a .915 save percentage in 19 games.
Bobrovsky just turned 35 and last season was a reminder that the Panthers need options behind their starter — Florida was bailed out by Alex Lyon down the stretch to qualify for the playoffs. Stolarz arrives after two seasons in Anaheim as one of the NHL’s better backups.
Waiting in the wings is Spencer Knight, the 22-year-old trying to reignite his career after a stint in the NHL/NHL Players’ Association player assistance program last season, and the revelation that he’s navigating an ongoing case of obsessive compulsive disorder.
All in all, Biron believed the Panthers were ranked a little too highly here. “Florida would be lower, but it’s hard to do since Bob was so good in playoffs,” he said. “But I would have them between Nos. 15 and 20.”
After the 2021-22 season, Demko was being chatted up as a likely Vezina Trophy favorite after putting up a .915 save percentage in 64 appearances. Voters love that kind of work rate — and that kind of effectiveness. Alas, he had neither of those last season, as injures limited him to 32 games and Demko had just a .901 save percentage in a lost season for the Canucks.
There’s a clear path back to that elite status with which Demko was flirting two years ago. He has to stay healthy, he has to play a ton of games, and he has to be a primary catalyst for the Canucks climbing back into the postseason picture. But when he doesn’t play, Vancouver upgraded their backup spot with DeSmith, who handled that role well for years with the Penguins.
“I love Demko as a top-10 goalie but he’s yet to make it through a season healthy as a No.1,” one goalie expert said. “But he’s made changes to how he trains and their defense should be better, like it was after [Rick] Tocchet took over. He could shine.”
Shesterkin followed up his Vezina Trophy win with another dominant season for the Rangers, finishing fifth in goals saved above expected (28.1) and posting a .603 quality starts percentage. Dinging him for not repeating his success from 2021-22 — a .935 save percentage and 34.1 goals saved above expected — is like criticizing Connor McDavid for scoring only 120 points.
As elite as Shesterkin is, he’s a goalie that has yet to play 60 games in a season. So the backup is important for the Rangers. And therein lies the problem. Gone is the reliable Jaroslav Halak to free agency. Arriving is what’s left of Jonathan Quick, the 37-year-old former Conn Smythe winner who split time between the Kings and the Golden Knights (with a brief, no-action stop in Columbus via trade).
Quick posted a .882 save percentage last season and didn’t see the ice in the Knights’ run to the Stanley Cup. He had the fifth-worst goals saved above expected (-17.2) and cost his teams 1.4 wins over the course of 41 games.
“They went from a guy who consistently posts top-15 adjusted save percentage numbers in Halak to a guy consistently in bottom 15,” one goalie expert said on Quick. “It’s probably too bold a prediction, but I feel like this might be a goalie switch that could at least threaten their playoff chances.”
So this is awkward …
Normally, evaluating the Lightning is rather simple. They have Andrei Vasilevskiy. He is demonstrably one of the best NHL goaltenders of the last two decades, in the regular season and the postseason. They’re an easy top-10 team and perhaps even higher, depending on who what the competition looks like and who the backup goaltender is in Tampa Bay that season.
But as we were compiling the goalie tandem ranking, the Lightning announced that Vasilevskiy was undergoing back surgery and will miss 10 to 12 weeks.
“Tampa needs a goalie now if Vasi is out for two months. Can’t have JJ as your No. 1,” Biron said.
For what it’s worth, Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said he has “complete confidence” in the way his team can limit chances no matter who’s playing in goal.
“I have no idea what you do with Tampa without Vasilevskiy,” a goalie expert said. “If you factor the injury in, they drop by several spots. Maybe out of the top 10.”
We’re under the assumption that he’s back in December and healthy. If that’s the case, the Lightning are still in the top 10.
The Hurricanes were 11th in the NHL in team save percentage last season (.902), marking the first time in three seasons they were outside of the top three. That was in large part due to an ineffective, injury-shortened season for Andersen, who finished with a negative-3.5 goals saved above expected in 34 games. The good news was that Freddie was Freddie again in the playoffs, with a .927 save percentage and a 1.83 goals-against average.
Otherwise, it’s the same trio the Hurricanes rolled out last season, with Andersen and Raanta returning as unrestricted free agents.
“I would be tempted to drop Carolina based on their numbers relative to the team’s play, Raanta’s injury history and Kochetkov’s inconsistency,” one goalie expert said. “But there’s always something about Carolina that seems harder for goalies than their defensive numbers might otherwise indicate.”
When one goalie expert saw this ranking, they offered one piece of advice immediately: Flip Gustavsson and Fleury, who we had as the No. 1 in Minnesota.
“Gustavsson posted adjusted save percentage numbers that were similar to Linus Ullmark last season,” they said. “If he put in the work this summer to be their No. 1, the Wild could get a big bump.”
Gustavsson quickly went from “goalie included in a hasty Cam Talbot trade” to a breakout star in 2022-23, with a 22-9-7 record and a .931 save percentage. He emphatically outplayed Fleury, the 38-year-old star who posted a .908 save percentage in 46 games.
Waiting in the wings is Wallstedt, their first-round pick in 2021 who completed his first AHL season in 2022-23. With Fleury in the last year of his contract, it’s only a matter of time before The Wall reaches The Show.
The man they call “Otter” had lofty expectations placed on him last season after his star-making performance in the 2022 playoffs. He didn’t disappoint, finishing fifth for the Vezina with a .919 save percentage and 11.8 goals saved above expected. He played 62 games last season including a ton down the stretch that didn’t exactly help him during the Stars’ three-round postseason grind.
But Oettinger played (and played and played) because hist trusty backup Scott Wedgewood was injured. Overall, Wedgewood appeared in 21 games for Dallas and posted a stellar .915 save percentage. Just a quintessential understudy: Plays well when called upon, a great guy in the room and can push the starter a bit.
This tandem is just a little bit better than the one in Dallas, but it’s a razor-thin margin. Hellebuyck was a Vezina finalist for the third time in his career in what was a bounce-back year for the tireless goalie: .920 save percentage, 30.8 goals saved above expected and an outstanding .688 quality starts percentage. Now, imagine what this guy does in a contract year, with unrestricted free agency looming next summer …
After getting a below-replacement performance from David Rittich last season as Hellebuyck’s backup, the Jets turned to a familiar face in free agency: Brossoit, age 30, who helped the Vegas Golden Knights win the Stanley Cup last season. He spent three strong seasons in Winnipeg and gives the Jets a dynamic duo in net.
Asking around the NHL about the goalie tiers, one thing became clear: Juuse Saros has a lot of fans.
“I really believe Nashville should be higher, even if they’re a worse team than others on here. Saros is elite, on the same tier as a Jake Oettinger or a Connor Hellebuyck,” a goalie expert said. “He should have been second in the Vezina voting.”
Saros was fourth in the voting last season, undoubtedly the byproduct of Nashville missing the playoff cut. Otherwise, the numbers tell the story: He led the league in games played (64), which led him leading the league in shots against (2,099) and saves (1,928). He posted a .919 save percentage and 46.7 goals saved above expected, which led the NHL. With due respect to Roman Josi, Barry Trotz and the existence of Broadway, Saros remains the best thing about the Nashville Predators.
But the reason the Predators are third overall is what’s behind him. Lankinen was a sneaky great backup last season, with a .916 save percentage and a quality starts percentage of .611.
“He’s a guy other teams should have targeted instead of Korpisalo at the trade deadline,” another goalie expert said.
The Predators’ depth in goal allows them the luxury of allowing top prospect Yaroslav Askarov, 21, to hone his craft in the AHL.
For Sorokin, winning the Vezina Trophy is a matter of “when” rather than “if.” He probably would have walked away with the hardware last season were it not for the bonkers efforts of Ullmark in back of the best regular-season team in NHL history. Sorokin was the clear second choice with 17 second-place votes, more than triple of anyone else.
Sorokin was third in the NHL in goals saved above expected (38.7) in 62 games played, which was a new career high work rate for the 28-year-old goalie. He also led the NHL with six shutouts. He’s the most important player on the Islanders, as evidenced by the eight-year, $66 million contract extension he signed this offseason.
Also signing a contract extension was 35-year-old backup goalie Varlamov. He’s a former starter, a capable backup and an important veteran influence on Sorokin. But remember how we said some teams are trying to do their goaltending in the cheap behind an exceptional lineup? The Islanders are the opposite — assuming both goalies are still on the roster, New York will commit $11 million combined to its goaltenders starting in 2024-25.
After the Bruins were upset in the first round of the playoffs and saw Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci call it a career, there was a notion that Boston was going to slip away from playoff contention.
“I don’t know how people look at the depth of our team and say that we’re going to fall off the radar,” captain Brad Marchand said defiantly. “We’re big, we’re strong. We have the best goalie tandem in the league, including a Vezina winner.”
If the Bruins are going to find solid footing after a chaotic end to their 2022-23 season, it’ll be on the foundation laid by Ullmark and Swayman. Boston led the NHL with a .929 team save percentage. Ullmark won the Vezina with a remarkable 40-6-1 record, sporting a .938 save percentage and a 1.89 goals-against average. Swayman was 24-6-4 with a .920 save percentage and four shutouts in 37 games. The duo combined for 66.4 goals saved above expected between them.
While there’s understandable pessimism about the Bruins’ ability to repeat their feats from last season, please note that Ullmark and Swayman posted career-best numbers the moment coach Jim Montgomery walked into Boston. He’s still there. They’re still there too, even if there was some speculation either Ullmark or Swayman could be traded for other lineup help. As long as that’s the case, they’ve earned the label as the top goalie tandem in the NHL.