In football, the adage "if you have two starting quarterbacks, you really have no starting quarterbacks" generally holds true.
In hockey, with goalies, it's not quite the same. Quality depth at that position isn't essential for a long playoff run, but it is a nice luxury to have.
And the Wild has been in that position over the last two seasons. Veteran Cam Talbot has taken the bulk of the action and solidified a position that needed an overhaul.
Kaapo Kahkonen, only 25 and with just 39 career starts, has generally provided similarly solid work given occasional action — and then played like a Vezina Trophy candidate in larger samples when Talbot has been sidelined.
Kahkonen won nine consecutive starts from mid-February through mid-March last season, many with Talbot unavailable, to bolster the Wild's season. And again this season Kahkonen has helped the Wild to a 3-0-1 record — while posting a .931 save percentage — since Talbot was sidelined during the Winter Classic.
Kahkonen talked about his readiness to play and his relationship with Talbot as a guest on Thursday's Daily Delivery podcast.
"It's about being prepared and working hard in practice every day and being smart and doing the right things," Kahkonen said. "Whenever you get a chance to help the team, you go out there and you can feel good about your game and try to execute."
Kahkonen's latest stretch came during an important time for the Wild, which had lost five consecutive games between Dec. 11 and Jan. 1, with a lot of COVID postponements in between, before this four-game points streak.
Having both Kahkonen and Talbot available and sharp will be of critical importance in the back half of the schedule when the Wild will sprint to the finish with 41 games over 81 days.
That span will include seven sets of back-to-back games. Talbot is set to return from his injury soon, and coach Dean Evason said Wednesday the Wild has confidence in either goalie.
Both figure to see plenty of pucks down the stretch, enhancing the relationship in a goalie group that also includes veteran Andrew Hammond.
"All three of us, we all get along really well. We all are competing obviously and working hard every day and kind of pushing each other that way," Kahkonen said. "I don't make the call who plays or who doesn't, so I don't focus on that. It sounds boring, but I only focus on the day, the practice, the morning skate or whatever it is we are doing at that moment. Somebody is going to tell me if I'm playing or not, and then I'm going to try to help the team win."