Louis Domingue Should be the Penguins’ Backup Goalie

Pittsburgh Penguins, Casey DeSmith (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Penguins, Casey DeSmith (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

Louis Domingue made his Pittsburgh Penguins debut on Saturday night in San Jose, and in the process, he made a case for himself to be the backup goaltender for the Pens moving forward this season.

To this point, Casey DeSmith has been the number two netminder behind Tristan Jarry, who was selected to take part in this year’s NHL All-Star Game. DeSmith, who has appeared in eight games in the 2021-2022 season, has posted a 3-3-1 record, with a 3.47 goals against average, an .888 save percentage, and one shutout. In his career, the 30-year-old has 35 wins, a 2.71 goals against average, and a .913 save percentage in 78 appearances, all with the Penguins.

His statistical high points came in his first couple years in the league, but his save percentage has dropped in each of his four NHL seasons, and he didn’t even make an NHL appearance in the 2019-2020 campaign.

Domingue has played games for six NHL clubs, including Pittsburgh, and he has seen very little action over the last several seasons. His most noteworthy seasons came as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning when he recorded a career-best .914 save percentage (2017-2018 season) and a 21-5 record (2018-2019).

Louis Domingue should take over as the Penguins’ backup.

Based on the numbers, DeSmith has been better, or at least more consistent, in his NHL career than Domingue. If the question is which netminder could provide the Penguins with a consistent output, then the answer would probably be DeSmith. However, I think Domingue could yield a higher upside, which is more attractive for this Pens team.

It’s no secret that Pittsburgh’s championship window is closing and that 2022 could be its best opportunity to win one more Stanley Cup with the current core group of players. With that in mind, I would like to see someone with more upside in the backup goalie role.

Just look at Saturday’s game against the San Jose Sharks, and you’ll see the latest example of why Domingue could fit that description. The 29-year-old first-time Penguin saw 41 shots fired his way in his first NHL game since May 18, and he stepped up to the task to stop 40 of them in a 2-1 overtime victory.

As mentioned earlier, DeSmith is several seasons removed from his statistically superior years, he’s struggled mightily at times this season, and Domingue has played nearly twice as many games in his NHL career. Yes, one strong game from the newest Penguins netminder is an extremely small sample size, but in a boom-or-bust year in the Steel City, the goalie that has proven he can catch fire in spurts could be the better option.

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The backup goalie position is one that the Penguins could upgrade as the NHL trade deadline approaches, but after watching Louis Domingue beat the Sharks on Saturday, that upgrade may be easier than expected.