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Shots on Goal: Starting to fall

by | Rotowire.com
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What is happening to starting goalies this season? Well, injuries and poor play is happening to many of them. If you're like this writer you were extremely bullish on Washington acquiring Tomas Vokoun. How's that working out for you? Then there's the case of Jaroslav Halak, another Czech goalie that we were handicapping to be a solid No. 2 Fantasy goalie, worthy of a seventh round selection in 12-team leagues that start two netminders. Suffice to say that there have been some significant developments league-wide that have turned goalie rankings upside down. It's sort of like what's happened in the NFL this season at quarterback. In September would you have thought that guys like Tyler Palko, Caleb Hanie, Matt Leinart and Vince Young would be starting games Week 12?

We're adding an extra bonus feature in this week's column. Why? Well, because we're good people. Actually the real reason is because we've found ourselves overly preoccupied with depth defensemen lately dues to the fact that Tobias Enstrom or Ryan Whitney is on virtually every one of this writer's roto squads this season. Thus, this week's theme - the replacements - encompasses both changes between the pipes and injury replacement opportunities for those needing some blue line help due to injuries to studs like Mike Green, Alex Goligoski, Chris Pronger, Andrei Markov, Tyler Myers, Tobias Enstrom, etc.

Buffalo

Jhonas Enroth continues to see all of the starts for Buffalo with Ryan Miller out at least another 10-14 days due to a concussion. Enroth's play has dipped a bit of late, with three goals or more allowed in three of his last four starts. Buffalo has significant injuries outside of the crease as well (Myers, Regehr, Ennis, Kaleta, Boyes, Stafford, Weber, McCormick) and this could be having a negative effect on Enroth's peripherals. If you are looking for a depth D-man, both Jordan Leopold and Marc-Andre Gragnani are worth a look. Leopold has five goals already after posting a career-high last season while Gragnani is getting the second highest amount of power-play time on the Sabres after Christian Ehrhoff.

Colorado

After seven straight losses that saw him post a 4.17 goals-against average and .847 save percentage, Semyon Varlamov finally won a November start on Saturday against Edmonton while stopping 31 of 33 shots (.939 save percentage). Jean-Sebastien Giguere is 2-2 in four November starts with a 1.75 goals-against average. Varlamov has 16 starts to JSG's seven and we like that ratio (70 percent of total starts going to Varlamov) to remain relatively consistent throughout the season.

Stefan Elliott, a superstar defenseman in junior hockey with 241 points in 282 games with a ridiculous plus-104 defensive rating, played over 19 minutes Saturday in his first NHL game and scored the game-winner vs. Edmonton. Pick him up ASAP if you need a defenseman, as he just may be this year's Kevin Shattenkirk.

Columbus

Steve Mason remains concussed while Curtis Sanford has been a huge surprise with his stellar play. Sometimes we get caught up in the promise of a blue chip prospect (like Mark Dekanich) and we ignore the steady veteran backup. Sanford played well for Vancouver in his last chance in the Big League, three years ago and he's starting to make us doubters reconsider our possible rush to judgment. The 32-year-old backup journeyman is 3-0-2 in six appearances with an insane 1.27 goals-against average and .950 save percentage. While he can't possibly maintain those stats, he is the No. 1 goalie in Columbus for the immediate future. Moreover, with Columbus finally starting to play some decent hockey, he's actually worthy of being used as a No. 2 or No. 3 Fantasy goalie these days. If you're thin on defense take a gander at Fedor Tyutin, who has been playing well of late (three points in last four games) and has a regular gig on the Jackets' first power play unit across from James Wisniewski. Another defenseman to consider is Nikita Nikitin, who has four assists in his last six games and is third on the Jackets in power play time amongst defensemen.

Dallas

Kari Lehtonen has a groin injury and you should immediately pick up Andrew Raycroft. While the extent of Lehtonen's injury remains unknown we do know that he's had numerous groin injuries over the course of his NHL career. Yes, Raycroft's stats this year are horrendous, but he's only seen the ice five times and teams often circle the wagons and rally around the backup when the No. 1 goes down with injury. Speaking of injuries, top defender Alex Goligoski has missed eight games already and likely won't be back until around Dec. 10. Nobody misses Goligoski more than Sheldon Souray, who has failed to register a point since Goligoski was injured Nov. 11 at Pittsburgh. Their other top defenseman, Stephane Robidas, has just one point since Goligoski went out.

Edmonton

While Nikolai Khabibulin is No. 1 in Edmonton, and clearly outplaying Devan Dubnyk, injuries are starting to mount. Not only is half of their starting top-six on defense injured - Cam Barker (ankle surgery), Corey Potter (sprained ankle), Andy Sutton (groin injury) - but no they've lost Taylor Hall to a shoulder injury. If you need some defense Tom Gilbert has really picked up his play over the last five games with five points, three on the power play, along with four PIMs and a plus-4 defensive rating.

Florida

This writer continues to be amazed at 35-year-old Jose Theodore. Theodore just keeps winning, and with Jacob Markstrom getting shelled Saturday and Scott Clemmensen battling soreness after just one start (albeit a shutout), Theodore seems safely entrenched as the No. 1 goalie on a competitive upstart Panthers team. As such we are adjusting our estimate for starts for Clemmensen from 25-30 starts to 15-20 starts.

Minnesota

Josh Harding got another chance to shine when Niklas Backstrom briefly left the team for personal reasons. Harding went 2-1 but lost his last effort, 4-2 to Edmonton. Backstrom, who is 3-0 in his last three starts, should get that start on Sunday when they host Calgary. On defense, with Marek Zidlicky out with a concussion, defenseman Jared Spurgeon is seeing an increase in power-play deployment. Spurgeon has three assists in his last six games, all on the power play. Moreover, he's averaged over 5 minutes with the man advantage over his past two games.

N.Y. Islanders

Patience is a virtue and Al Montoya owners have finally been rewarded for being virtuous. Montoya, a superior talent to Rick DiPietro, may have finally taken over as No. 1 on the Island. With Evgeni Nabokov out indefinitely and Rick D. the stiff that we know he is, Montoya actually started and won a game this weekend.

Philadelphia

Sergei Bobrovsky is getting more starts than we anticipated heading into the season. Bob has a 5-2-1 record but his 2.82 goals-against average needs to come down for him to be an effective No. 3 roto goalies. Similarly, Ilya Bryzgalov (8-5-2) has to bring down his 2.89 goals ag. They each have a .900 save percentage. What makes it harder to get that goals-against average down for both is the lack of depth on defense. When Chris Pronger is out, as he is from time to time, they are really thin and inexperienced on defense. Andreas Lilja is out indefinitely and they have had to bring up reinforcements from their AHL team (Marc-Andre Bourdon and Kevin Marshall). The situation is further exacerbated by the injury to promising defenseman Erik Gustafsson (wrist surgery), who's out until January.

St. Louis

Backup Brian Elliott continues to play outstanding hockey for new Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. Jaroslav Halak owner will have to wait until Elliott cools off before Halak returns to the No. 1 spot. As goalie starts are hard to come by, Halak owners should be targeting the likes of Raycroft or Sanford for the short term (assuming that Elliott is not available in their leagues).

Tampa Bay

Dwayne Roloson has taken a backseat to Mathieu Garon. Garon started and won both games in their home-and-home weekend series against Florida. Garon stopped 47 of 49 shots in the process -- a .959 save percentage. Pick up Garon if you have goalie starts to spare, as this is a legitimate time-share with Roloson for the foreseeable future and Garon has the current advantage.

Toronto

James Reimer has been practicing and should be back by mid-December, perhaps even earlier. Jonas Gustavsson has won three in a row, which has us astounded. He could make it four in a row Sunday at Anaheim but we still (stubbornly?) have little confidence in his long-term proficiency. While we continue to doubt the ability of Gustavsson as a No. 1 NHL goalie, we are coming around when it comes to Toronto as a team. The Leafs are a viable team for the 8th playoff seed if Reimer comes back before Christmas. They have more depth at forward than since they had Sundin, Thomas, Roberts, Tucker (aka Krusty the Clown). On defense, Mike Komisarek getting hurt was a blessing, as Cody Franson has all the tools, as does the kid Jake Gardiner. The Swede in goal, though, is a mirage. Franson may be worth considering if you're in dire need of blue line help, as he has three points in his last four games. Just don't expect many shots on goal because he's only got one in four games.

Vancouver

Roberto Luongo is on the bench due to an amazing run by backup goalie Cory Schneider. Initially it was a Luongo injury that pressed Schneider into service and he did not fare well in his first start while allowing five goals in a loss to Chicago. However, since that loss Schneider has gone 4-0 with a 0.74 goals-against average and .975 save percentage, including two shutouts and a fantastic 43-save effort at the Shark Tank. Schneider should get the next start, Tuesday against Columbus. Luongo and his owners will have to wait until Schneider cools down before Bobby Lou can get back between the pipes.

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Player News
Matt Duchene
Avs' Duchene To Start Skating Monday
Matt Duchene, C, COL
4/21/2014
News: Matt Duchene (knee) will join the Avalanche for the two-game road swing in Minnesota, Adrian Dater of the Denver Post reports.
Analysis: Matt Duchene will resume skating Monday, but it's still looking unlikely that he'll be available for Round 1. However, with the Avalanche already owning a commanding 2-0 lead, the series could end up going as few as four games, affording ample time for Duchene to rest up before Round 2 commences.

Jonathan Quick
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6:47 PM
News: Jonathan Quick will start Sunday's game against the Sharks, Elliott Teaford of InsideSocal.com reports.
Analysis: Jonathan Quick, who will square off against Antti Niemi, will try to help the Kings even their playoff series with the Sharks on Sunday, after the team dropped Thursday's Game 1 by a 6-3 mark.

Jason LaBarbera
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6:29 PM
News: The Blackhawks have recalled Jason LaBarbera from AHL Rockford, ESPN Chicago reports.
Analysis: Jason LaBarbera, who went 15-15-12 with a 2.94 GAA and a .901 save percentage in 32 games with Rockford this season, gives the Hawks an emergency backup option, now that his team's AHL season is done.

Steven Stamkos
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6:23 PM
News: Steven Stamkos, who left Sunday's game against Montreal after taking a knee to the back of the head in the second period, was able to return to the contest.
Analysis: The star forward's return is great news for the Lightning, as the team is down 2-0 in its playoff series against Montreal and entered the third period of Sunday's game trailing by a score of 2-1.

Ondrej Palat
Lightning's Palat Set To Play
Ondrej Palat, LW, TB
3:53 PM
News: Ondrej Palat (upper body) is slated to play Sunday against the Canadiens, TSN's John Lu reports.
Analysis: Based on warmups, Ondrej Palat -- who missed Friday's contest against the Habs -- is slated to work on a line with Tyler Johnson and Steven Stamkos on Sunday.

Martin Havlat
Sharks Likely To Scratch Havlat In Game 2
Martin Havlat, RW, SJ
3:51 PM
News: With no lineup changes for Game 2, it looks like Martin Havlat will again be a healthy scratch for the Sharks, according to David Pollak of the Mercury News.
Analysis: Martin Havlat finished a tough season fairly strong and is likely to be the first forward brought in if a lineup change is necessary. But there's no reason to change anything after a strong Game 1 performance from the Sharks. As long as they keep winning, Havlat may continue to be scratched.

Tyler Kennedy
Kennedy Likely A Scratch For Sharks In Game 2
Tyler Kennedy, C, SJ
3:49 PM
News: With the team reporting no lineup changes for Game 2, it looks like Tyler Kennedy will be a healthy scratch again, according to David Pollak of the Mercury News.
Analysis: Tyler Kennedy's season-long struggles are taking precedent over his playoff experience. Kennedy, short of some bad play by a bottom six forward or an injury, may be hard pressed to find playing time in round one.

Raffi Torres
Torres To Play For Sharks In Game 2
Raffi Torres, LW, SJ
3:46 PM
News: There wasn't much question if he'd play two straight, but it's now confirmed that Raffi Torres will play for the Sharks in Game 2, according to David Pollak of the Mercury News.
Analysis: Raffi Torres scored the game-winner in Game 1, his return after some knee soreness. He's barely played this season, but when he has, he's been excellent. The only thing to be wary of is his playing time. The Sharks are being cautious with his knee. They expect a long playoff run and want Torres healthy throughout. With Torres getting under ten minutes per game, it may be hard for him to keep up the productivity we've seen thus far.

Sami Salo
Lightning's Salo Out For Sunday's Game
Sami Salo, D, TB
3:46 PM
News: Sami Salo (upper body) will miss Sunday's game against the Canadiens, Erik Erlendsson of The Tampa Tribune reports.
Analysis: Sami Salo will thus take a seat Sunday after having been held without a point over the first two games of the Lightning's series against Montreal.

Antti Niemi
Niemi Starts For Sharks In Game 2
Antti Niemi, G, SJ
3:44 PM
News: Antti Niemi will get the net for Game 2, according to David Pollak of the Mercury News.
Analysis: Antti Niemi will get the start after stopping 31 of 34 for the win in Game 1. Expect him to start every game for the Sharks until LA finds a way to expose him. If that happens there may be a change as backup Alex Stalock has played strong all season.

 
 
 
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