2. Do the Hurricanes have the goaltending to get the job done?
Last season in the NHL, more and more teams moved away from having a true number one goaltender. Aside from teams with top tier goalies like Carey Price or Connor Hellebuyck, some very successful teams went towards goalie-by-committee.
The Colorado Avalanche split time in goal between in goal, even if it was somewhat because of injury, and was a Game Seven Overtime goal from the Western Conference Finals. Dallas had such a competitive pair that when injury struck, Anton Khudobin carried the Stars to the Cup Finals. The New York Islanders also split time almost to an exact 50-50 split and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.
In Carolina, the intent did not seem to be that committee style. Instead, Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour seemed to go more with the hot hand. Both James Reimer and Petr Mrazek were trusted to put the Hurricanes in a position to win; both succeeded at that.
The 28-year-old Mrazek started in 38 games and posted a record of 21-16-2 with a .905 Save Percentage (SV%) and a goals allowed against (GAA) of 2.69. Riemer is older at 32-years-old and in 24 starts had a record of 14-6-2 with a SV% of .914 and a GAA of 2.66. In the Playoffs, the split was even tighter. Reimer started three games, while Mrazek started five, and both had a SV% around .930.
If an NHL goaltender puts your team in a position to win the game, they have had a good night. For the Hurricanes tandem, is that enough? This shortened season is not the one to wait and see how long a player takes to come out of a rut. Then when a swap is made to plan B, is it consistent enough to help the team succeed? Then how long until you are forced back into the original plan A?
As awesome it would be to be an NHL Head Coach, having to balance a goaltending tandem is not an enviable aspect of the gig. If Brind’Amour can make it work, the Canes could be a surprise this year, even with all of the current expectations.