If your team has good goaltending and defense, they can go a long way. The Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs are prime examples of the importance of needing good goaltending and defense. The Oilers seem to be content with the narrative that they were eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup champion for two years straight. The Maple Leafs finally found a way to make it out of the first round last season. The Oilers gave up eight goals and the Maple Leafs gave up five goals in their season openers.
The goaltending duo of Logan Thompson and Adin Hill is not getting any respect. ESPN ranked Thompson and Hill No. 16 overall, five spots better than Edmonton and two spots behind Toronto. Wait, two spots behind Toronto? The description of the Toronto goaltenders begins with, “Plan the parade!” in the ESPN article. Did I mention that the Maple Leafs gave up five goals at home to the Montreal Canadiens Wednesday night?
Injuries limited Thompson and Hill to a combined 61 starts last season. Thompson went 21-13-3 with a save percentage of .915. Hill went 16-7-1 and also had a save percentage of .915.
Hill had a remarkable playoff run going 11-4 with a save percentage of .932 which ranked second all-time.
Part of what makes Thompson and Hill great goalies is the defense in front of them. Every goalie appreciates a player like Alec Martinez who blocks a million shots per season. Alex Pietrangelo plays heavy minutes and is able to neutralize the best players in the NHL night after night. Brayden McNabb plays an extremely responsible game. Shea Theodore uses his speed and skill to rush the puck out of the defensive zone. The pairing of Nicolas Hague and Zach Whitecloud is also very responsible and able to rush the puck.
The Golden Knights gave up 56 shots on goal through the first two games. Both goals scored against the Golden Knights were the results of fluky bounces. Thompson and Hill have been rock solid.
Martinez and Whitecloud missed the first two games of the regular season. Braden Pachal and Ben Hutton have been excellent in their places.
Thompson, Hill, and the defense can carry the Golden Knights far. We are just two games into the new season, but Golden Knights fans have to be encouraged from what they have seen on the defensive end of the ice thus far.