Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Who's The Best Young Back Up Goalie in the NHL?

Not many teams in recent memory have had the type of goalie platoon that the Edmonton Oilers had during their hay day. Grant Fuhr and Andy Moog were #1 goaltenders on all the teams they played on other then Edmonton and they shared the distinction in Edmonton. Fuhr did get most of the playoffs starts, but it was even if not slanted slightly towards Moog during the regular season.

That doesn't happen anymore. Teams use journey men or youngsters to caddy for the starter. Some get in more action then others depending on who that starter is. Tuesday night on TPS we discussed who the top young back ups are in the NHL. It was the topic of our poll question on the main site, and we welcomed Justin Goldman from The Goalie Guild to chat about it.

"I think it has to be Tuuka Rask. I mean he has all the elements that you want, not only in a premier back up but in a future starter." Goldman told us when we threw the question at him.

"I love dynamic goaltenders, it doesn't matter if you're big or small, you have to be athletic, you have to be willing battle your heart out to make 2nd, 3rd and 4th save just can't match him in the rest of the league as a back up."

Cory Schneider (top) was also on our list and Goldman loves the Boston natives size and footwork. "I think he's got a great work ethic, he puts little messages and notes on the inside his blocker and being a back up in Vancouver you have to have a great work ethic because you have to earn every starter behind Roberto Luongo."

Rask and Schneider play behind Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo, but their not alone in talented back ups parked behind an entrenched starter. Jonathan Bernier plays behind the guy who has the 7th most wins in the NHL this year and Jonathan Quick is ultra durable, playing in 38 of the Kings 46 games this year to go along with seasons of 61 and 72 games played. Bernier in my opinion could be the first back up to be dealt for improvements, and Goldman is impressed with his patience, which wasn't always his strong suit.

"A lot of these goalies go from playing 80-85% of their teams games in the AHL, and Bernier played a lot in the QMJHL as well, and they you gotta sit on the bench and really learn through experience what it takes to be mentally tough and mentally prepared for that rare opportunity that you do receive. It's not easy to do, especially in Bernier's case because it seems every time he gets a couple of starts, Jonathan Quick is right there to push right back. He (Quick) is probably the most underrated goalie in the world right now."

Guy has been talking up Jhonas Enroth for a while to me now and asked Goldman about whether or not Enroth could end up being the main man in Buffalo.

"When Miller was injured after the Lucic collision, Enroth got a string of starts, and when you get those consistent starts and you get into a rhythm that's what you really want, and Enroth really played well during Miller's absence." As Goldman pointed out, when Miller came back and Enroth returned to the back up roll, his play struggled a bit.

An email question led to our 5th goalie, Josh Harding. The question wasn't about Harding's ability, but durability. Harding's career high for games in a season is 29. A lot of that has to do with Niklas Backstrom being the undisputed starter, but injuries have played a major roll in Harding's development. He missed all of last year due to a knee injury

"I think Josh Harding has always been a great young goaltender, but I think it's just a matter that GM's don't really know how good Harding is because they just haven't seen him enough. Scouts need to see these guys play otherwise they can't comment about his potential and what it might be like to bring him in. Right now those he's getting some more exposure.

We also chatted with Justin about some of the top guys about to burst the bubble and make the jump from the AHL, some veterans some youngsters, but most of which are in a log jam to get to the show.

Finally we asked Justin about a recent interview we had with Team Canada goaltending consultant Ron Tugnutt. The Goalie Guild actually provided some content for that interview and Tuesday night Goldman weighed in what Tugnutt had to say.

For all of that and the rest of our Tuesday night show, you can click here.

No comments: