Great Netminding Tandem in Arizona
By Patrick Hoffman
The Arizona Coyotes have always been a club that works their tails off every single night and yet, they end up not making the playoffs.
It must be extremely frustrating to be a Coyotes' fan because the team never seems to get to play when it matters most. A lot of that has to do with team's lowly offense.
One area of their game that cannot be blamed for this team not making the postseason is their goaltending. In fact, I believe that the Coyotes have one of the best tandems in the NHL.
While their true starting netminder, Antti Raanta has not been healthy enough to play a full season, he has played well for this club when in between the pipes. In his first season with the club (2017-18), Raanta, 30, went 21-17-6 with a 2.24 goals-against average, a .930 save percentage, and three shutouts.
He was outstanding that year. He was the main reason why his team was in most games while also being the reason why his club stayed in the race for a playoff spot.
He only played 12 games last season due to injury so unfortunately, we really can't say how he well he would have played had he remained healthy. What we do know is that when he is in net, he supplies the kind of goaltending that can help a team win hockey games.
The team's other masked man, Darcy Kuemper, almost carried this team into the playoffs last year. Heck, he was actually one of the league's best goaltenders.
Kuemper, 29, went 27-20-8 in 55 games with a 2.33 goals-against average, a .925 save percentage, and five shutouts. If you ask me, those are elite numbers right there.
What's going to be interesting to see is which guy is the true starting goaltender this season. The team is paying Raanta an awful lot of money as he signed a 3-year, 12.75 million contract when he signed with the club in the summer of 2017. Not only that, but he will earn a base salary of $5 million this season.
With that kind of money, I believe that Raanta will be given the first crack to be the team's number one guy between the pipes. If he falters, however, the team will be in more than good hands with Kuemper.
Patrick covers the NHL for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave.
He has previously covered the league for WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.