Golden Knights mailbag: Addressing the backup goalie situation

Send NHL writers Adam Hill and Ben Gotz your Golden Knights questions and hot takes. Tweet them at @AdamHillLVRJ or @BenSGotz or email at ahill@reviewjournal.com or bgotz@reviewjournal.com.

The Golden Knights have hit New York for the first three games of their four-game trip as they play the Islanders, Devils and Rangers over the next five days. It’s an opportunity to knock out three road games with very little travel and another chance for us to answer your questions:

“What are your thoughts on the goalie situation? Seems maybe a lack of confidence in (Malcolm) Subban, and (Marc-Andre Fleury) needs some help. Will they make a trade for a backup?” — Robert (Twitter)

There hasn’t been much indication the Knights are in the market for a new backup goaltender, though there’s never much that leaks out of general manager George McPhee’s office.

At the same time, the Knights front office is always looking for ways to improve its roster.

The plan seems to be to just run Fleury out there every night until he either hits a slide or completely breaks down — and hope neither of those things happen.

Fleury is on pace to start 72 games for the Knights at 34 years old. He started a career-high 67 games on two occasions, but hasn’t done so in seven years.

Connor Hellebuyck (Jets) and Cam Talbot (Oilers) each started 67 games last season to share the league lead.

Fleury leads the league in starts (28) and wins (17) and is one of only two goalies in the league with all of his team’s wins. New Jersey’s Keith Kinkaid has all 10 of the Devils’ victories.

This is all to say that Fleury is getting an awful lot of usage and it hasn’t seemed to impact his play. It may wear him down later in the season, but the Knights are still chasing points right now and coach Gerard Gallant has made it clear he wants to give his team the best chance to win.

Subban hasn’t inspired much confidence when he has gotten the call this season. In five games, including one relief appearance, he is 0-4 with a 4.02 goals-against average and an .859 save percentage. His last start in Calgary on Nov. 19 was a 7-2 nightmare.

If he is still part of the team’s plans going forward — and there’s no indication he’s not — they are going to have to trust him enough to play him occasionally. Fleury has already started both ends of back-to-backs twice in the past couple weeks, a spot they have traditionally employed their backup.

Passing him over on days that would traditionally call for him to be in net can’t be good for his confidence, if that is indeed part of his issue.

It wasn’t long ago Subban appeared to be part of the Knights’ long-term plans. He went 13-4 last season with a 2.68 GAA and showed flashes of what made him a first-round pick.

The Knights will want to see more of that next time he gets the call.

“Reid Duke. We hardly knew ye.” — Ryan (email)

This isn’t really a question, but I get where you’re going.

Duke, the organization’s first signing, got the proverbial cup of coffee with the big club last week as he was recalled from the American Hockey League affiliate in Chicago.

He got to enjoy the coffee during the games as he was relegated to the press box as a healthy scratch. Duke was sent back down, presumably to make way for the impending return of Paul Stastny this week.

While he didn’t see game action, the time spent on the NHL roster could prove invaluable to Duke’s development.

More Golden Knights: Follow at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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