Do the Boston Bruins have the best goalie tandem in the NHL?

Boston Bruins, Tuukka Rask #40, Jarsoalv Halak #41 (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Boston Bruins, Tuukka Rask #40, Jarsoalv Halak #41 (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Is the Boston Bruins’ goalie tandem of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak the best in the NHL?

This past season, the Boston Bruins‘ goalie duo of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak won the William M. Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals against in the NHL.

This was the first time the Bruins had won the award since the 2008-09 season when Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez took it home for allowing just 196 goals. Additionally, this was Rask’s first time winning the award and Halak’s second time — his first time was in 2011-12, playing alongside Brian Elliott on the St. Louis Blues.

Although the tandem allowed the fewest goals this season, many are still skeptical of the two. This mainly is because of the play of both in the playoffs this season, especially that of Halak after Rask decided to leave the bubble.

Halak started nine postseason games this year for the Bruins. In those nine games, he had posted subpar numbers — .902 save percentage (SV%), 2.76 goals-against average (GAA), .444 quality start percentage (QS%), and two really bad starts (RBS).

Before Rask left the bubble, he wasn’t doing much better. In four starts, Rask posted a .904 SV%, 2.57 GAA, .500 QS%, and no really bad starts.

Neither goalie recorded a shutout and together posted a 5-8 record with a .903 SV%, 2.67 GAA, and .472 QS%. This is nowhere close to their regular-season numbers of eight shutouts, a .924 SV%, 2.26 GAA (including a league-best 2.12 GAA by Rask), and .652 QS%.

Although they were the best in the regular season, can they truly be the best if neither can come up big in the playoffs?

If the Boston Bruins don’t have the best goalie tandem, who does?

I think the honor of best goalie tandem has to go to the Dallas Stars’ Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin. This duo was the runner-up to Rask and Halak this season and was also the runner-up in 2018-19 to the New York Islanders’ Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss.

Over the last two seasons, Bishop has posted nine shutouts, a .927 SV% (including a league-best .934 SV% in 2018-19), 2.24 GAA, .659 QS%, and just six RBS. Additionally, Bishop was the runner-up to the Vezina Trophy (awarded to the best goalie in the NHL) in 2018-19.

Khudobin has been just as good, if not better, than Bishop. Over these same two years, Khudobin recorded two shutouts, .927 SV% (including a league-best .930 SV% this season), 2.40 GAA, .677 QS%, and just five RBS.

Due to injury, Bishop was only able to start three games this postseason. In those three games, he was abysmal posting a .844 SV%, 5.43 GAA, .000 QS%, and two RBS.

Luckily, Khudobin was able to play to the occasion. After being a career backup/platoon, he was able to take on the role of a full-time starter, playing in 25 games (started 24) and posting a .917 SV%, 2.69 GAA, .500 QS%, and just two RBS.

Because of Khudobin’s stellar play, the Stars were able to make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, ultimately losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.

Ultimately, I think the difference between the duos of Rask and Halak and Bishop and Khudobin is that the latter has been playing at the same elite level for consecutive seasons. Additionally, both goaltenders have the ability to step in as full-time starters if the other goes down.

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With that being said, Rask and Halak are definitely one of the best goaltending duos in the NHL, however, they just aren’t THE best.