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Shots on Goal: Get yourself a backup plan

by | Rotowire.com
  •  

Owning backup goalies is a necessary evil for managers who prefer to stock up on elite forwards and 50-point potential defensemen early on in drafts and ignore/refuse to give in to goalie runs. The expectation for owning a backup is usually somewhere between 20-35 starts, sometimes less. How many owners drafted Jhonas Enroth for his 15-20 starts? The point of this exercise is that owning backup goalies can be like owning a lottery ticket. When Ryan Miller got steamrolled by Milan Lucic, it propelled Enroth from being a top-10 backup to a top-10 starting goalie. As it's impossible to accurately predict the recovery time for concussions, owning Enroth can change the balance of power in your league. He's 7-1 with a 1.95 goals-against average and already has a shutout.

In this week's edition we'll look at teams with various levels of uncertainty with regard to their goalie situation, whether it be due to injury in goal, poor play in nets, porous defense or some other calamity.

Boston

In our last edition of SOG, on Halloween, we called the B's poor start an aberration. They are 7-0 since. Tim Thomas is up to 7-4 for the season with similar peripherals to last season -- 2.09 goals-against average and .930 save percentage. Meanwhile, Tuukka Rask is 3-0 in November after an 0-3 October and sports a 2.32 goals-against average and .919 save percentage. One thing we did not see coming was the huge leap forward in Tyler Seguin's progression of NHL learning. After 22 points in 74 games last season, Seguin has 11 goals and 20 points in 17 games so far this season and a ridiculous plus-15 defensive rating. Seguin is six points ahead of the nearest Bruin forward, Milan Lucic, in team scoring. Can he keep up the pace? No, he cannot, but he should finish with 25-plus goals and 60-plus points.

Buffalo

By now it's most likely too late to pick up Jhonas Enroth. However, if you need a No. 4 or No. 5 D-man, Marc-Andre Gragnani should be seeing more regular deployment with fellow Buffalo D-man Mike Weber out indefinitely after sustaining what the team's calling an upper body injury at New Jersey on Wednesday.

Colorado

Semyon Varlamov's backup, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, is outplaying him. While Varlamov is 0-4 in his last four starts with 15 goals allowed and just 77 saves on 92 shots (a woeful .837 save percentage), Giguere is 4-0 on the season with a 1.68 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. This situation is very fluid. If you're in need of a No. 3 or No. 4 roto goalie, go ahead and pick up JSG.

Columbus

The situation in Columbus remains fairly miserable. Owning Steve Mason, who's 3-12-1 with a 3.63 goals-against average and .875 save percentage, seems rather pointless. Speaking of miserable, defenseman James Wisniewski is a minus-10 in 10 games and purported No. 1 center Jeff Carter has but three assists in eight games. Carter's agent denies that Carter wants to be traded but who would want to trade for a center with a bloated long-term contract, a bad foot, a history of hard partying and one who doesn't play to his size?

Some managers in need of goalie help have been picking up Curtis Sanford, the 32-year-old backup journeyman. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Goalie prospect Mark Dekanich, a star in the AHL the past two seasons, has suffered a groin injury and his return could be anywhere from a week to a month, according to Columbus GM Scott Howson. Dekanich may be their best bet in nets but he has to stay healthy enough to play a couple of games for their AHL affiliate before he'll get any chance to start in Columbus.

Edmonton

Any time a team plays way above expectations, there's bound to be some sort of market correction. Similarly, when a player is putting up numbers far ahead of any sane projection, a correction is in order. Case in point -- Nikolai Khabibulin. Khabby had an insane 0.95 goals-against average and stunning .962 save percentage after three starts to the season. Those numbers have adjusted to 1.74 goals-against average and .937 save percentage and they will continue to slide back. He's lost his last three starts and stopped just 60 of his last 71 shots -- an .845 save percentage.

Realistically, Khabibulin is a No. 3 Fantasy goalie but right now, with the Oilers decimated by injury on the blueline (Cam Barker out three months after ankle surgery, Ryan Whitney is perpetually injured, Corey Potter out with a sprained ankle, Sutton out with a groin injury), he's more like a No. 4 Fantasy goalie. Devan Dubnyk will also get his fair share of the goalie starts. Neither is better than a spot starter presently until the blue line gets some more healthy bodies back.

Florida

Jacob Markstrom went back down to the AHL when Scott Clemmensen returned from injury. Clemmensen then won his first start of the season, with a shutout (no less) vs. Dallas. That got my full attention - I immediately picked him up in one experts' league. Even though 35-year-old Jose Theodore has been excellent value thus far ($1.5 million) with a 6-4-2 record, 2.49 goals-against average and .920 save percentage for the Panthers, he's averaged only 44 starts over the previous five seasons due to an array of injuries and, at times, inconsistent play. With 68 games left in the season, Clemmensen should see at least 25-30 starts.

Minnesota

Josh Harding had a nice run but it's all over now, as Niklas Backstrom is 3-0 in his last three starts with a 1.33 goals-against average and a shutout. Moreover, Backstrom has two shutouts in five November starts along with a 4-1 record. Meanwhile Harding was pulled in his last start, after winning four straight. Amazingly, the Wild are 11-5-3 this season. Sadly, they play the trap and put on a rather dull display of hockey while scoring just 2.32 goals per game. Backstrom owners don't care, as long as they win more than they lose.

New Jersey

Martin Brodeur will start Saturday vs. Tampa Bay after beating Buffalo on Wednesday. Johan Hedberg had two straight starts prior to Wednesday's game, both against tough opponents, in winning at Washington Nov. 12 before losing at Boston three days later. The Devils could go on a run now that Ilya Kovalchuk is back in the lineup but it looks as though there will be some sort of a time share in nets for the two aging netminders for the foreseeable future.

N.Y. Islanders

It's been difficult for Al Montoya owners. The three ring circus has been painful to watch. Rick DiPietro has been healthy of late while the Isles have been trying to showcase Evgeni Nabokov. The situation is slowly improving for Montoya owners, as Nabokov is out indefinitely with a groin injury after getting injured Thursday vs. Montreal. Nabokov will be out at least three weeks. Now Montoya needs to get healthy. He's day-to-day with a groin injury. For now Rick D. has the nets to himself but Montoya's chance will come soon enough. Despite all the barriers, Montoya remains their best goalie.

Phoenix

Mike Smith has proven us all wrong. With an 8-3-3 record, 2.17 GAA, .934 save percentage, and a shutout in 14 starts, Smith has been beyond impressive. It also makes us realize that the defense, led by Keith Yandle, Adrian Aucoin and Derek Morris, is vastly underrated. Ditto for rookie defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who has four goals and seven points in 17 games. Our thoughts go out to the Coyotes' No. 2 center Daymond Langkow, who's on a leave of absence due to a death in his immediate family. Langkow could return to the lineup Wednesday against Anaheim.

St. Louis

When the Blues changed coaches most figured that Jaroslav Halak would get the lion's share of starts, as Hitch is not known as a guy who juggles goalies. As such I dropped backup Brian Elliott in an experts' league and, of course, he immediately posts a shutout then beats Detroit. That's painful but the fact remains that Hitch went back to Halak in the next game while stating to the media that Halak is his unquestioned No. 1 goalie. Hence, if you own Elliott you can't expect more than one start per week unless he posts a shutout. Halak is the No. 1 goalie here, despite Elliott's 7-1 record, 1.43 goals-against average and two shutouts. In other news, if you need a No. 4 or No. 5 D-man, take a long look at the recently acquired Kris Russell. Russell has two goals in three games and is getting decent power play time on the second unit.

Tampa Bay

Dwayne Roloson has won three of his last four starts while Mathieu Garon is winless in his last three appearances. Owning Garon requires patience, for the fact remains that he will get 30-35 starts backing up the NHL's oldest player. The Tampa Bay defense continues to miss Mattias Ohlund (out another 3-4 weeks). Surprisingly, Eric Brewer has averaged 4:09 on the power play during the past two games. Those in deeper leagues may want to keep an eye out on the situation.

Toronto

James Reimer, out since Oct. 22 with a concussion, was on the ice with goalie consultant Francois Allaire before practice on Friday. He was skating and passing the puck with Allaire in full equipment. That's great news for Reimer fans and Leafs Nation. Ben Scrivens has started the last four games and appears to have usurped Jonas Gustavsson. Gustavsson has stopped just 41 of his last 49 shots (.837 save percentage) over his last 120 minutes in goal whereas Scrivens is 1-2-1 during his last four starts with 10 goals allowed in stopping 108 of 118 shots (.915 save percentage).

Vancouver

Roberto Luongo owners have to be happy these days, even if Bobby Lou is injured (upper body). Why should they be happy? Because backup goalie Cory Schneider has failed to capitalize on the situation. Schneider has allowed five goals in each of his last two starts. Moreover, the backup hasn't won a game since October 22. Luongo should be back by early next week, with Sunday's tilt vs. Ottawa looking like Schneider's last start for a long while.

Winnipeg

Ondrej Pavelec has started the past 11 games but user beware as in two of those starts he allowed a total 10 goals on 60 shots -- that's a 5.00 goals-against average and .833 save percentage. Thankfully for Pavelec owners who use him as a No. 2, he's stopped 86 of 91 shots over his last three starts -- a 1.67 goals-against average and .945 save percentage. Backup Chris Mason, who hasn't played since injuring his groin Oct. 27 vs. Philadelphia, has been activated off injured reserve. Mason will likely see a start next weekend when the Jets play back-to-back at Carolina Friday and at Boston Saturday. The Jets' offense should get a boost when Winnipeg native Eric Fehr makes his debut this week, possible as soon as Saturday. The former WHL scoring leader has scored 20 goals before and the hope is that playing in his hometown will rejuvenate him and perhaps propel him to play more physical and use that 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame to his advantage.

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Player News
Mike Santorelli
Leafs' Santorelli Picks Up Two Assists
Mike Santorelli, C, TOR
6:34 AM
News: Mike Santorelli assisted on two of the Leafs' goals in Wednesday's loss to the Penguins.
Analysis: Mike Santorelli helped out on both of Leo Komarov's tallies, feeding the Russian winger on a 3-on-2 break for his first and collecting a secondary assist on his second. The 28-year-old Santorelli has been a useful depth scorer on the Leafs' second or third line this season, yielding 12 points and a plus-7 rating over 22 games.

Kris Letang
Pens' Letang Helps Out Wednesday
Kris Letang, D, PIT
6:31 AM
News: Kris Letang notched two helpers in Wednesday's victory over the Maple Leafs.
Analysis: That's back-to-back two-assist games for Kris Letang, who already has a whopping 10 helpers on the power play this season. Now healthy after a season in which he was sidelined for a long stretch of action following a stroke, Letang has quickly reestablished himself as one of the better fantasy defensemen out there.

Sidney Crosby
Pens' Crosby Assists Twice
Sidney Crosby, C, PIT
6:27 AM
News: Sidney Crosby assisted twice in Wednesday's win over the Maple Leafs.
Analysis: With five points over his last two games, it's probably safe to say that Sidney Crosby has dug himself out of his recent offensive slump. As the leading scorer for a 15-4-2 Penguins, Crosby looks well on his way to claiming the Hart Trophy once again.

Leo Komarov
Leafs' Komarov Strikes Twice Wednesday
Leo Komarov, C, TOR
6:24 AM
News: Leo Komarov potted two goals and doled out six hits in Wednesday's loss to the Penguins.
Analysis: The 27-year-old has been a spectacular addition to the Leafs after jumping from the KHL in the offseason. In addition to ranking among the league leaders in hits (96), Leo Komarov has gradually earned a larger role offensively. Wednesday marked his third multi-point performance of the month and gives him 16 points in 22 games.

Anders Lee
Isles' Lee Gets Goal, Seven PIM In Win
Anders Lee, C, NYI
6:14 AM
News: Anders Lee tallied his fourth goal of the season in Wednesday's victory over the Capitals.
Analysis: Anders Lee gathered a rebound and put it past Caps goalie Braden Holtby to give the Isles a 1-0 lead in the first period. He would later earn seven penalty minutes later in the night in what amounted to a strong all-around performance for the young forward.

Brandon Dubinsky
Jackets' Dubinsky Skating Better
Brandon Dubinsky, C, CLB
6:11 AM
News: Although he's been ruled out for this weekend's games, Brandon Dubinsky (abdominal surgery) looked strong on his skates during an optional team workout on Wednesday, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: A return for Monday's game against the Panthers might also be optimistic, but it looks like Brandon Dubinsky will be able to get back in the lineup later next week. The reeling Jackets could certainly use him.

Eric Tangradi
Habs' Tangradi Practices On Fourth Line
Eric Tangradi, LW, MON
5:38 AM
News: Eric Tangradi skated on the fourth line during Wednesday's practice, Hockey Inside Out reports.
Analysis: Eric Tangradi, who was recently called up from Hamilton of the American Hockey League, practiced with Manny Malhotra and Dale Weise. Whether or not he's in the active lineup Friday night against Buffalo remains to be seen. Head coach Michel Therrien has been putting out lineups with seven defensemen lately.

Dustin Brown
Kings' Brown Records Two Points
Dustin Brown, RW, LA
4:35 AM
News: Dustin Brown scored a goal and added an assist while firing four shots on goal and skating to a plus-2 in Wednesday's 4-0 win over the Wild.
Analysis: With the Kings having several scoring options up front, the veteran captain only has seven points in 23 games this year, but his 54 shots and 55 hits still give him relevance in many leagues.

Martin Jones
Kings' Jones Pitches Shutout Wednesday
Martin Jones, G, LA
4:27 AM
News: Martin Jones turned aside all 26 shots in Wednesday's 4-0 road win over the Wild.
Analysis: Making his second start in as many nights, the Kings' backup was solid when he needed to be, but ultimately cruised to victory after Los Angeles scored all their goals in the first period. Even though he got the nod in favour of workhorse Jonathan Quick in this one, we wouldn't read too much into a potential job battle in Hockeywood. It's likely coach Darryl Sutter wanted to give Quick some extra rest, especially against a Wild team that's normally formidable on home ice. Martin Jones is now 2-2-1 with a .938 save percentage and 1.68 GAA this year.

Cam Ward
Canes' Ward Gets No Offensive Support In Loss
Cam Ward, G, CAR
1:24 AM
News: Cam Ward stopped 28 of 29 shots Wednesday, but received no offensive support in a shutout loss to Florida.
Analysis: Tough break for Cam Ward, who did his best to try and earn just his second win in six games. While he was excellent Wednesday, Ward has still allowed three or more goals in three of his last four starts. The 30-year-old is now 6-8-1 this season with a 2.61 GAA and .907 save percentage. Judging by his superb play against the Panthers, Ward will get back into the win column soon.

 
 
 
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