Is it time for NHL coaches to embrace the two-headed monster?
Take a look around the league and you'll find that more teams are leaning toward using two goalies on a regular basis more than ever. Travel in the NHL is tough, and there is reason to believe that in order to be in the playoff race come April, you have to give your top guy some rest. Here are a few teams that are leaning in that direction:
Bruins: Andrew Raycroft and Felix Potvin
Blackhawks: Jocelyn Thibault and Michael Leighton
Wild: Dwayne Roloson and Manny Fernandez
Islanders: Rick DiPietro and Garth Snow
Flyers: Jeff Hackett and Robert Esche
Coyotes: Sean Burke and Zac Bierk
Boston has a terrific thing going with Raycroft and Potvin. Raycroft is the future and will be able to make the transition into a No. 1 goalie without having to watch his back because of the respect he has for Potvin. Potvin is great with him and simply likes Raycroft as a goalie and as a person. Great stuff.
In the Windy City, there was thought (and there still may be) that they would switch Leighton with Craig Anderson at Norfolk of the American Hockey League after 20 games, and at the end of the year, evaluate again as to who will be groomed to take over for Thibault. But as it stands now, Leighton deserves to stay.
In Minny, where the philosophy that no one player -- or goalie -- is bigger than the team is a way of life, Roloson and Fernandez are at it again, winning four of their last five games. They make the same base salary, play roughly the same number of games and the team plays the same way in front of both. Roloson shows more leadership while Fernandez has in-game charisma -- a solid tandem.
On the Island, Garth Snow provides great leadership and insurance -- not to mention support -- for DiPietro, who will be a 65-game goalie in the very near future. Just not this season.
In Philly, Esche earned defensive player of the week honors after going 3-0. Hackett lost and tied his last two starts, but it doesn't matter right now. This partnership is a strong one.
Odds are Phoenix will look at moving all-world goalie Sean Burke near the March 9 trade deadline. But can Bierk, who tied his last two starts and looked solid, take this team and lead them in the future? For now, he is learning from one of the best out there.
The San Jose Sharks have three solid goalies and could move one of them soon. The goalie that has garnered the most interest is Mikka Kiprusoff, the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder from Finland. It looks like Vesa Toskala, another Finnish native, will be backing up Nabokov, who is starting to show the form he had two years ago when he let the shooter make the first move and saves looked easy. He's gone 1-0-3 in his last four games.
Let's get to this week's top five:
Darren Pang, a former goaltender with the Chicago Blackhawks, is a hockey analyst for ESPN. His goalie rankings appear every other week in Net Effect.