As an assortment of skaters throughout the league struggle to find offensive chemistry, one of the more interesting narratives of the shortened schedule has become the role of backup netminders and the surprises that have already emerged between the pipes.
Piggybacking on the abbreviated season has been the additional layer of drama residing in the crease to puck nerds who enjoy watching a little competition in the locker rooms as well as on the ice.
Of course, not all teams have a lights-out workhorse. Across the board there seem to be a few story lines that just about every club can relate to with regard to its goalie situation, or at the very least, may find itself in at some point. Take your pick.
1) Injury issues (Jaroslav Halak, Miikka Kiprusoff, Nikolai Khabibulin, etc.)
2) Struggling starters (Jonathan Quick, Michal Neuvirth, Ryan Miller, etc.)
3) Tandem teamwork (Marc-Andre Fleury/Tomas Vokoun, Antti Niemi/Thomas Greiss, Corey Crawford/Ray Emery)
Obviously the third situation seems the most favorable, but let's start with the injury bug. With only so many off-days crammed between games, recovering from the vigor of tending net catches up quickly as lingering issues don't have the recovery time afforded by the luxuries of a much longer season. Secondly, goalies, even the best at times, can be unpredictable and struggle with mental aspects of the game. It's not uncommon for an all-star to stumble out of the gate and it's even worse when a shortened season affects a training camp. The best scenario for any club, however, would be the benefit of having a reliable spot starter to ease the workload for the number one, even if it comes down to riding the hot hand in the long run.
Let's have a look at some of the early season surprises that have anchored in goal so far.