This is a guest post by Annie Devine
The Dallas Stars have been put under the microscope for their tandem goalie team more often than not. Outsiders have claimed the only way to win a playoff series is with one consistent goaltender in the net. Dallas Stars head coach Lindy Ruff and his team have faced the media time and time again standing by their two goalie system. Having two strong goaltenders for the Stars to rely on has not crippled the organization this season, it has given them a sense of security. Coach Ruff firmly addressed the media after a practice on the road on May 4, 2016 about the frequent roll of questions he is being approached with about his goaltending strategies.
After practice Ruff stated the consideration that goes into selecting a starting goalie is his desire for consistency, not just in skill level or performance but in maintaining balance among Kari Lehtonen, Antti Niemi, and the rest of the team. Lindy began by reaffirming several previous statements made leading with “I’m gonna say this again, I’m just trying to stay consistent with what we did all year. That’s all.”
Ruff Confident with His Goaltending Tandem
That’s really all there is to it for Lindy Ruff at this point in the playoffs. For the entirety of the season the team has relied on both Lehtonen and Niemi for a nearly even amount of games played in net. Naturally the two Finnish goaltenders have had highs and lows just like any other professional athletes and in Lindy’s eyes that is the beauty of having two effective goalies capable of starting.
Ruff continued on with confidence commenting, “I know that’s hard for you guys to buy into because this two goalie thing is new to you guys and you’d rather just ask me about one goalie but now you’ve gotta ask me about two goalies… but we had two goalies that played really well for us that got us to where we got. And last time I checked, it was a pretty good place.”
This strong statement by Lindy Ruff wasn’t made solely in defense of his two goalie system, sometimes people need to be reminded that the Dallas Stars have the standings to back them up. Dallas fought hard to be named first place in the central division this season and they wouldn’t have been able to do so without a collaborative effort from both of their starting goaltenders. The Stars are undoubtedly in the best position they have been in since the last time they clinched first place in their division 10 years ago in the 2005-2006 season.
Ruff’s system has continued to ease the minds of some while arising questions and concerns from others. After splitting time to get by the first round of the playoffs against the Minnesota Wild, the fortunes have seemed to change while playing St. Louis. The Blues now lead the series 2-1 and hockey fans worldwide are left wondering if having two possible starting goalies is what’s best for the Stars right now.
Trust In Ruff
At this point in the post season Lindy Ruff can only ask the team and their fans to trust his decisions by pointing out the fact that his goaltender situation is a silver lining. While some teams only have one starter and a backup goalie, Dallas has two solid goaltenders that have had one another’s back through ups and downs since day one. Ruff summed up his statement by saying, “Do they stumble every now and then? Yeah, they do. But the alternative is I have another guy to go to all the time. And they’ve bought into the way we’ve been doing it and it’s led us to this point.”
The Stars will take on the Blues tonight in St. Louis in hopes of tying up the series. No matter which Finnish goaltender Lindy Ruff designates to take the ice as the starting goalie, they will have the full support of their coach, their teammates, and their fans as the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs keeps everyone on the edge of their seat.