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The Golden Knights Must Reduce Fleury’s Workload

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

TSN’s Travis Yost wrote an article this week that suggests more and more NHL teams are using a two goaltender system. Franchises are searching for steady backups to win some games while giving their starters a chance to recharge.

Behaviourally, we’ve seen teams start to shift some of the minutes onto their second goaltender. Last season, the average NHL team used their No. 1 goalie in about 60 percent of the total minutes: down almost 10 percent from where it was a decade or so ago. -Travis Yost, TSN

Last season goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury started 74% of regular-season games for the Golden Knights. He played 3635 minutes, also 74%. Fleury registered the fourth-most minutes in the league and was tied for the fifth-most starts.

Minutes

Carey Price – 3880
Devan Dubnyk – 3855
Connor Hellebuyck – 3704
Marc-Andre Fleury – 3635
Jacob Markstrom – 3599

Starts

Devan Dubnyk – 66
Carey Price – 64
Connor Hellebuyck – 62
Martin Jones – 62
Marc-Andre Fleury – 61
Sergei Bobrovsky – 61
Frederik Anderson – 60
Jacob Markstrom – 60

Yost found that goaltenders ten years ago were starting 8% more games on average. However, in 2019 Fleury was still in the crease more than the average goaltender in 2009. As most clubs were trending towards more rest for their starters, the Golden Knights relied heavily on their trusty ole backstop.

The position has changed. Teams are still on the hunt for superstar goaltenders, but teams are also becoming increasingly conscious about workload, burnout rates and the heightened risk of injuries for their primary puck stoppers. Add that to an increased understanding that goaltenders struggle when playing in back-to-back situations – the NHL schedule still sees a dozen or more of these per team each year – and you have a real incentive for strategic rest.-Yost, TSN

The question going forward is how will Vegas handle Fleury’s workload in 2019-20?

Since becoming the Golden Knights goaltender, Fleury has recorded a .919 save percentage and a 2.40 goals allowed average. So, it’s understandable why the coaching staff wants him on the ice as much as possible.

Knowing that rest can aid performance and help mitigate significant injury from manifesting is one thing. Being comfortable in backup options to absorb some of those minutes is another animal entirely. -Yost

The Golden Knights know they cannot afford to lose Fleury for a significant period of time. Heck, we all know that. Which is why you’d have to assume they will rest him more in his 16th NHL season.

Like Yost mentioned, the team has to feel comfortable playing their backup. Does the organization trust Malcolm Subban or any other backup enough to play more than 26% of games?

They didn’t last season. They have to this year.

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2 Comments

  1. Carl

    30 games or bust for Subban. With Fleury fresh come playoff time, and Subbs with a season of real NHL experience, the Golden Knights should be a very hard team to beat.

    Now if only the injury gods can protect them both…

  2. JV

    After working with Prior for 2 seasons, has Subban hit his ceiling? He still goes down to the ice too early, which goes against what Prior tries to teach (from an interview in InGoal back in 2018. ) MAF has the quickness to be patient. Subban, not so much. Hoping Sparks can push Subban.

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