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Shots on Goal: Get yourself a backup plan

by | Rotowire.com
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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
Dan Ellis
Panthers Start Ellis On Sunday
Dan Ellis, G, FLA
3/30/2015
News: Dan Ellis is slated to start Sunday's game against the Senators, George Richards of the Miami Herald reports.
Analysis: Per the report, coach Gerard Gallant indicated that Roberto Luongo is a little sore in the wake of Saturday's game against Montreal and will thus give way to Dan Ellis (who last started on March 17) on Sunday.

Joakim Andersson
Wings' Andersson Grabs Game Winner Saturday
Joakim Andersson, C, DET
3/30/2015
News: Joakim Andersson tallied the game-winning goal in Saturday's 4-0 triumph over the Lightning.
Analysis: It's just the second goal and seventh point of the season for Joakim Andersson, who doesn't see many scoring chances as a bottom-six forward. Andersson's fantasy value is further limited by the lack of PIM and hits he provides relative to many of his peers on the third and fourth line.

Ryan Murphy
Canes' Murphy Gets Assist, Goes Plus-2 Saturday
Ryan Murphy, D, CAR
3/30/2015
News: Ryan Murphy picked up an assist and went plus-2 in Saturday's win over the Devils.
Analysis: Ryan Murphy has begun to carve out some utility in very deep formats lately, providing two goals, an assist, and six shots on goal over his last four games. He'll need to keep that run of scoring going to enjoy broader fantasy appeal, but if nothing else, he's making a strong case for a top-four spot on defense with the Hurricanes in 2015-16-.

Jaroslav Halak
Islanders Turn To Halak On Sunday
Jaroslav Halak, G, NYI
3/30/2015
News: Jaroslav Halak will start Sunday's game against the Red Wings.
Analysis: Jaroslav Halak, who gave way to Michal Neuvirth in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Ducks, will return to the Isles' net on Sunday, with the team looking to snap a three-game slide at home.

Cam Ward
Ward Guide 'Canes To Win Column
Cam Ward, G, CAR
3/30/2015
News: Cam Ward turned away 21 of 22 shots in Saturday's win over the Devils.
Analysis: In a game between two the league's weakest scoring attacks, there predictably wasn't much offense to be found as the teams combined for four goals and 54 shot attempts. Cam Ward was just a bit sharper than opposing netminder Keith Kinkaid, earning the Carolina goalie his second win in two starts since returning from a bout with the flu. Coach Bill Peters is set to go with Anton Khudobin as the starter Sunday versus the Bruins, but Ward's solid showings his last two times out might put him on the inside track to finish the year as the Hurricanes' No. 1 netminder.

Alexander Semin
Semin Back In Carolina Lineup Sunday
Alexander Semin, RW, CAR
3/30/2015
News: Alexander Semin (hamstring) is slated to play Sunday against the Bruins, Michael Smith of the Hurricanes' official site reports.
Analysis: With Alexander Semin, who missed Saturday's game, back in the lineup, Brad Malone looks like the odd man out for Carolina up front on Sunday.

Roberto Luongo
Cats' Luongo Takes OT Loss Saturday
Roberto Luongo, G, FLA
3/30/2015
News: Roberto Luongo stopped 22 shots but let in three goals in the Panthers' overtime loss to the Canadiens on Saturday.
Analysis: The defeat was a pretty big setback to the Panthers' playoff odds, but with the team still in the thick of the race, Roberto Luongo figures to draw the starting assignment again Sunday versus the Senators. Luongo is 3-1-1 in his five games since returning from a shoulder injury March 19.

Brian Elliott
Blues Turn To Elliott On Monday
Brian Elliott, G, STL
3/30/2015
News: Brian Elliott is slated to start Monday's game against the Canucks, NHL.com's Lou Korac reports.
Analysis: Brian Elliott stopped only 13 of 16 shots Saturday against the Blue Jackets to take his third straight loss. He'll look to turn things around Monday against a Vancouver squad that has dropped two straight games by a combined tally of 8-4.

Mark Stone
Sens' Stone Says Hot Saturday
Mark Stone, RW, OTT
3/30/2015
News: Mark Stone netted his 19th goal of the season in Saturday's loss to the Maple Leafs.
Analysis: Mark Stone's goal gave the Sens an early 1-0 lead and the forward his 13th point in as many contests. The 22-year-old will finish the season with somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 points, and there's a good chance that may only represent the low end of his production in future years.

Anton Khudobin
Carolina Turns To Khudobin On Sunday
Anton Khudobin, G, CAR
3/30/2015
News: Anton Khudobin is slated to start Sunday's game against the Bruins, Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer reports.
Analysis: Anton Khudobin, who gave way to Cam Ward in the team's last two games, will take aim Sunday against his former squad, the Bruins, who are coming off a key 4-2 win over the Rangers on Saturday.

 
 
 
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