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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
Anton Khudobin
Canes' Khudobin Stops 30 Shots In Loss
Anton Khudobin, G, CAR
12:55 PM
News: Anton Khudobin stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced in Sunday's loss to the Rangers.
Analysis: Anton Khudobin was great Sunday, but got no offensive support in a 1-0 loss. The 28-year-old is still searching for his first win this season, posting an 0-8-2 record, to go with a .900 save percentage and 2.91 GAA. Considering the Hurricanes sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with just 22 points, it's hard to see Khudobin piling up the wins anytime soon. The backup to Cam Ward won't provide much fantasy value unless the Hurricanes get their season back on track.

Cam Talbot
Rangers' Talbot Blanks Hurricanes
Cam Talbot, G, NYR
12:41 PM
News: Cam Talbot pitched an 18-save shutout in Sunday's win over Carolina.
Analysis: Cam Talbot has been outstanding recently, recording a shutout in three of his past four games. The 27-year-old is now 3-3-1 on the season with an impressive .928 save percentage and 2.02 GAA. He has been one of the best backups this season and is a great fantasy option whenever starter Henrik Lundqvist gets the night off.

Dustin Tokarski
Habs' Tokarski Backstops Hamilton Win
Dustin Tokarski, G, MON
3:25 AM
News: Dustin Tokarski stopped 29 of 31 shots in AHL Hamilton's win over Texas on Sunday.
Analysis: Sunday's game was the second start of the weekend for Dustin Tokarski, who was sent down to get some work in after a long stretch of inactivity with the parent club. He's expected to be recalled to Montreal in time for some back-to-backs over the holidays.

Ondrej Pavelec
Jets' Pavelec Gives Up Four Goals In Loss
Ondrej Pavelec, G, WPG
3:12 AM
News: Ondrej Pavelec surrendered four goals on 23 shots in Sunday's overtime loss to the Flyers.
Analysis: After a solid outing Tuesday vs. Buffalo, Ondrej Pavelec returned to his losing ways Sunday. The 27-year-old has now lost three of his past four games, giving up at least three goals in each of those losses. Considering Pavelec's recent struggles, expect rookie Michael Hutchinson and his league-leading .940 save percentage to continue to make his case to be Winnipeg's starting netminder.

Mathieu Perreault
Jets' Perreault Extends Point Streak Sunday
Mathieu Perreault, C, WPG
2:57 AM
News: Mathieu Perreault extended his point streak to seven games Sunday, scoring his sixth goal of the season in a loss to Philadelphia.
Analysis: The second-liner has now scored in back-to-back games and is up to 15 points in 33 games on the season. While he won't produce spectacular offensive totals, Mathieu Perreault should come close to duplicating the success of the career-high 18-goal, 43-point season he posted in 2013-14. The 26-year-old is a decent secondary scorer who can be counted on in deeper formats.

Dustin Byfuglien
Jets' Byfuglien Dominates Sunday Vs. Flyers
Dustin Byfuglien, D, WPG
2:49 AM
News: Dustin Byfuglien put together a monster fantasy outing Sunday, scoring his eighth goal of the season, dishing out five hits, blocking seven shots, and logging a game-high 26:53 of ice time in an overtime loss to the Flyers.
Analysis: Dustin Byfuglien has been very productive since being moved back to defense, recording three goals and seven points in eight games. He is logging heavy minutes on the Jet's blueline and has fired 112 shots on goal -- eighth most in the NHL. He's only been held off the scoresheet four times in his last 14 games, making him a dependable and consistent fantasy option. Keep him rolling.

Vincent Lecavalier
Flyers' Lecavalier Scores Twice Vs. Jets
Vincent Lecavalier, C, PHI
2:37 AM
News: Vincent Lecavalier ended a seven-game scoring drought Sunday, potting two goals in a win over Winnipeg.
Analysis: The 34-year-old now has four goals and eight points in 19 games, to go with a minus-4 rating. While he still has some gas left in the tank, the fourth-liner has been too inconsistent to be depended on in most fantasy formats right now. He's looked better of late, though, and is one to monitor, because if he catches fire, he could be worth adding in some deeper formats.

Jakub Voracek
Flyers' Voracek Strikes In Overtime Sunday
Jakub Voracek, RW, PHI
2:26 AM
News: Jakub Voracek opened the scoring and scored the overtime-winning goal Sunday against the Jets.
Analysis: Jakub Voracek? More like Scoracek. There are no words to describe the season he is putting together. Voracek has seven points in his last three games and is leading the NHL with 44 points in 33 games on the season. The 25-year-old is also leading the league with 33 assists and has recorded an impressive plus-15 rating. It's now been 262 days since Voracek was last held off the scoresheet in consecutive games. That is simply insane. You know what to do.

Rob Zepp
Flyers' Zepp Wins First Career Start At Age 33
Rob Zepp, G, PHI
2:10 AM
News: Rob Zepp made his NHL debut Sunday, stopping 25 of 28 shots in an overtime win over Winnipeg.
Analysis: The 33-year-old Rob Zepp becomes the oldest goalie to win his NHL debut since 1926. What a story. While Zepp will likely return to the AHL Phantoms once starter Steve Mason (upper body) returns from injury, Zepp could still see more action before being sent down. Expect him to backup Ray Emery during Mason's absence, with the chance of stepping in if Razor struggles or goes down with an injury.

James Reimer
Leafs' Reimer Gives Up Four In Loss to Chicago
James Reimer, G, TOR
1:55 AM
News: James Reimer gave up four goals on 34 shots in Sunday's loss to the Blackhawks.
Analysis: It wasn't the best outing for James Reimer, who got no offensive support in the 4-0 loss. The 26-year-old is now 6-4-0 on the season with a .907 save percentage and 3.26 GAA. While he has only made 13 appearance this season, Reimer is still a decent fantasy option whenever starter Jonathan Bernier gets the night off.

 
 
 
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