Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk led National Hockey League goalies in games played (67) last season, and finished second to Montreal’s Carey Price in usage, playing just 25 fewer minutes.
Dubnyk and Price were absolute workhorses for their respective teams, but that term has certainly become more of a relative one in the NHL over the years. As frequently as we saw both of these netminders in the crease last season, their workload pales in comparison to the burden placed on the position just a decade ago.
Analyzing this type of data year-over-year doesn’t lend itself well to perfectly linear trends – a random run of injuries for starting goaltenders (or backup goaltenders) can create plenty of in-season volatility. But there was an obvious shift coming out of the shortened 2012-13 NHL season, and the 2018-19 season was a new ‘low point’ in the number of minutes we saw from starters.
It seems likely that an increase in talent at the position has narrowed the gap, among other possible explainer variables (including more strategic ‘rest’ situations).