Having a back-up goaltender that is solid is very important in the NHL regular season. Not only is it injury insurance if your main goaltender gets hurt, but there are tons of times when NHL scheduling favors a team with a solid back-up. For instance, when teams are involved in back-to-back games in back-to-back nights fatigue is a major factor for your main goaltender. Having a strong second option is very helpful in these situations as you can rest your main goalie for one of the games and still hope to tally a win. This season so far, the best back-up goaltenders in the NHL are Philipp Grubauer of the Washington Capitals and Aaron Dell of the San Jose Sharks.

Grubauer is 10-4-2 in his appearances

Grubauer is 25-years-old and he is currently the back-up goalie to Braden Holtby in Washington. In relieving Holtby, Grubauer has earned a 10-4-2 record, he has a high save percentage of .932, and he has a very low goals-against average of just 1.98.

He has earned himself a lot of recognition in the media on the American east coast. For example Tarik El-Bashir of CSN Mid-Atlantic positively appraised Grubauer earlier this week.

El-Bashir recently commented about Grubauer after a Washington loss: "Grubauer didn’t get the ‘W’...but his scintillating 28-save performance against the Rangers still managed to bolster the backup’s standing as the NHL’s best No. 2 netminder" (February 20th). Washington are currently the Stanley Cup favorites (bet365) with Holtby certainly 'Plan A.' However the Capitals definitely have the goaltending depth to close out the regular season with another President's Trophy and they may do more damage in the post-season this year than normal.

Aaron Dell is 7-3-1

Aaron Dell is another back-up goaltender on a Cup contender this season. Dell plays for the San Jose Sharks where he is the back-up for Martin Jones. Cat Silverman of FanRagSports recently called him "the best NHL backup you’ve never heard of" (February 19th). A strong case could be made that Dell is actually being underplayed at this point in his career. He is 27-years-old and this is his first stint in the NHL, a factor that is likely causing San Jose management to be conservative with his playing time.

However, in 12 appearances he has a .934 save percentage, a 7-3-1 record, and a puny 1.95 goals-against average. If he's able to take on a bigger workload without sacrificing his results then Dell would be better between the pipes than Jones on many nights. San Jose's main goalie has a .913 save percentage and a 2.34 goals-against average. You could take an if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it attitude with the Sharks since they lead their division, but arguably Dell should be given more starts until he gives San Jose a reason not to play him.

Depth in the goaltending department doesn't always make a difference in the NHL playoffs. There are plenty of times where one healthy goalie takes over in the post-season and pushes his team deep without any concern for the back-up. However, Washington and San Jose are division leaders that project to home playoff series in the Stanley Cup playoffs. If anything happens to their No. 1 goalies in terms of missed time, they aren't as likely to slide down the standings as some other teams would be.

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