Never has the plight of the "back-up" goalie been more apparent than in Vancouver this season. Roberto Luongo, the former Captain, is one year in to a retirement contract while up-and-comer Cory Schneider is in the final year of his RFA deal. Despite the contradiction in contract status it's Schneider who is playing a better game right now sporting a respectable .917 SV% vs. Luongo's .883.
Even if the lines between the starter and "back-up" are blurred by performance I don't think it's fair to label one goalie the #1 and the other a "back-up".
In baseball a five man starting rotation may have an Ace, but that doesn't make the other four back-up pitchers. Just like the Ace of a pitching rotation doesn't start every game neither does the starting goaltender.
So what is Roberto Luongo when he doesn't start? He's been tabbed the starting goalie but he's barely taken half the starts so far this season. I don't see why you have to hang a label on either of the goalies. The guy between the pipes at the beginning of a given game is the starting goalie regardless of his paycheque or stats.
I'd like to see the label back-up removed from the hockey vernacular entirely. If we can rid the game of terms such as "New NHL" and "Monster" then we can certainly help achieve equality for goaltenders.