For many teams around the NHL, success is largely decided by how well their goaltending tandem is able to perform.
Some teams truly struggle to find a guy that is able to carry the load, while others rotate through goalies at an alarming rate.
Neither of these situations are conducive to attaining much success, with stability one of the most important aspects to any goaltending tandem.
For the Arizona Coyotes, they have questions of their own between the pipes, but for all the right reasons.
For the majority of his time with the Coyotes, Antti Raanta has been the starter and has put up performances that could have had him firmly in the conversation for the Vezina.
When looking at his base stats from last season, 5-6-0 record with a 2.88 goal against average and a save percentage of .906, many would question that last statement.
But Raanta suffered from the worst lucky possible last season, recurring injuries.
The 30-year-old Finn missed most of last season with injury, but had actually returned from an earlier issue in late November.
After his initial return, Raanta made just three appearances before finding himself sidelined indefinitely.
Prior to those three appearances, in which it was quite clear that he was not his usual self and even saw him pulled from the final game against Minnesota, Raanta had a save percentage of .926 and a goal against average of just 2.11.
These are the numbers of a legitimate starting goaltender in the NHL, and one that could be considered for the coveted Vezina Trophy if maintained across a full season.
With Raanta unfortunately succumbing to his injuries in late November, not making another appearance in the 2018/19 season, the Arizona Coyotes relied on backup Darcy Kuemper to keep them afloat.
And Kuemper did so much more than that.
Entering the 2018/19 season, the most amount of games that Kuemper had played in a single season was 31 (28 of those being starts).
While in his first full season in the desert, Kuemper carried the team through 55 games, all of them starts, putting the team within touching distance of reaching the playoffs for the first time in seven years.
Across those 55 games, Kuemper faced an average of 30.4 shots per game but had a goal against average of just 2.33 and a save percentage of .925, with an impressive 36 quality starts.
The 29-year-old Saskatoon native’s career year saw him rewarded with a number of votes for the top goaltending prize in the NHL, finishing fifth in Vezina voting.
Kuemper also finished 22nd in Hart Memorial Trophy voting last season, tied with Andrei Vasilevskiy, who actually won the Vezina.
After such an impressive season, the question as to who the Coyotes’ starter should be this season.
Depending on Raanta’s health, it would make most sense for head coach Rick Tocchet roll a 1A/1B situation that sees the Finn and Kuemper share time equally in the opening games.
After last season, Tocchet’s trust in Kuemper could realistically see him take on the mantle from the get-go, but with two legitimate starter-quality goalies at his disposal, rotating them in and out could help the team in the long-run.
Managing Raanta’s minutes could see him contribute a lot more across the season, keeping him fresh and able to perform at a high level consistently.
An equal split of 41 games each could help the team maintain consistency, keeping both goalies happy with a solid game-load that would be tied for the second-highest single season number for both goalies.
Having what could be considered the strongest goaltending tandem in the league, along with one of the strongest defensive corps, should heavily influence the Coyotes’ push for the playoffs this season.
Once game 82 of the 2019/20 season is in the books, it could be a situation that all 30 other teams in the league are envious of.