To be successful in 2021, it may not be enough for NHL teams to have only one elite netminder.
Goaltending tandems have become a theme in recent NHL seasons. The Boston Bruins (Tuukka Rask/Jaroslav Halak), New York Islanders (Thomas Greiss/Semyon Varlamov), and Dallas Stars (Ben Bishop/Anton Khudobin) have all implemented them effectively in recent seasons.
Now, with a short offseason and a condensed regular season, having a great one-two punch between the pipes is more important than ever. With that, here are the top-5 goaltending tandems in the NHL entering the 2021 campaign.
Joonas Korpisalo/Elvis Merzlikins, Columbus Blue Jackets
Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins teamed up to effectively fill the void left by the departure of Sergei Bobrovsky last season. Korpisalo was expected to be a big part of the replacement plan, while Merzlikins impressed in his rookie season.
During the 2019-20 campaign, Korpisalo posted a 19-12-5 record, a 2.60 goals-against average (GAA), and a 91.1 save percentage. Merzlikins recorded a 13-9-8 record, a 2.35 GAA, and a 92.3 save percentage to complement his partner.
Inexperience keeps this duo out of the top 5, though they will look to be key contributors to the Blue Jackets in 2021.
Philipp Grubauer/Pavel Francouz, Colorado Avalanche
This tandem helped the Avs advance to the Western Conference Semifinals in 2020, and while it may not qualify for the top 5, it certainly should be solid again this season.
In the 2019-20 regular season, Philipp Grubauer went 18-12-4 with a 2.63 GAA, and a 91.6 save percentage. Pavel Francouz burst onto the scene with a 21-7-4 record to go with a 2.41 GAA and a 92.3 save percentage.
Once again, a lack of experience on the part of Francouz, and a lack of experience as a starter by both, keep this tandem off of the list. With one of the best rosters in hockey playing in front of them, however, look for these two to continue to be impressive.