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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
Ryan Miller
Canucks' Miller Makes 31 Saves In Preseason Loss
Ryan Miller, G, VAN
12:59 AM
News: Ryan Miller gave up four goals on 35 shots in Monday's preseason loss to the Coyotes.
Analysis: It was a strong outing for Ryan Miller, who saw his team get largely outplayed for the majority of the game. Miller is now 1-1-0 in the preseason and enters this season as the Canucks' clear-cut starting goaltender.

Al Montoya
Panthers' Montoya Claims Backup Gig
Al Montoya, G, FLA
12:55 AM
News: After Dan Ellis was waived Sunday by the Panthers, Al Montoya appears to have claimed the No. 2 goalie job behind Roberto Luongo, Harvey Fialkov of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.
Analysis: Al Montoya had the inside edge for the gig by virtue of his contract being larger than Ellis', but his play in the preseason justified his emergence as the victor in the job battle. The 29-year-old proved highly capable as a backup for the Jets last season, posting a 13-8-3 record, 2.30 GAA and .920 save percentage. However, Luongo is a far better talent in goal than Montoya's chief competition in Winnipeg (Ondrej Pavelec), so the backup might actually notice a decrease in usage in his first season in South Florida.

Roberto Luongo
Panthers' Luongo Sharp In Preseason Debut
Roberto Luongo, G, FLA
12:50 AM
News: Roberto Luongo allowed one goal on 18 shots while working two periods in Saturday's exhibition loss to the Predators.
Analysis: The lone goal Roberto Luongo allowed was somewhat fluky, as the goalie's skate got caught on his uniform to prevent him from blocking the shot with his foot. All in all, Luongo was sharp in his first preseason tune-up. He'll be locked in for a large workload as the Panthers' No. 1 netminder this season.

Greg Zanon
Panthers Waive Zanon
Greg Zanon, D, FLA
12:45 AM
News: Greg Zanon was waived by the Panthers on Sunday, Harvey Fialkov of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.
Analysis: The 34-year-old blueliner never had much of a chance at cracking the Panthers' Opening Night roster. Alex Petrovic, Colby Robak and MacKenzie Weegar remain in a battle for the team's seventh defenseman job.

Bobby Butler
Panthers' Butler Waived
Bobby Butler, RW, FLA
12:43 AM
News: Bobby Butler was waived by the Panthers on Sunday, Harvey Fialkov of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.
Analysis: With Bobby Butler losing out on winning a spot on the Panthers' fourth-line, he'll likely clear waivers and report to AHL San Antonio. He compiled 22 goals and 25 assists in 69 AHL games last season.

Joey Crabb
Panthers Waive Crabb
Joey Crabb, RW, FLA
12:41 AM
News: Joey Crabb was waived by the Panthers on Sunday, Harvey Fialkov of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.
Analysis: Joey Crabb is expected to clear waivers and report to AHL San Antonio, where he totaled 15 goals and 14 assists over 62 games. He appeared in nine games with the Panthers last season and could be up again at some point in 2014-15 if the team is need of depth on the fourth line.

Luke Gazdic
Oilers' Gazdic Gets In Full-Contact Practice
Luke Gazdic, LW, EDM
12:34 AM
News: Luke Gazdic (shoulder) took part in a full-contact practice Sunday, Derek Van Diest of the Edmonton Sun reports.
Analysis: Luke Gazdic, who is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, finally seems to be nearing the finish line, though he's still not deemed ready to play. The 25-year-old hopes to get enough practice time in to be ready for Opening Night. He'll be tasked with playing an enforcer role for the Oilers on the checking line, making him a useful source for penalty minutes and little else.

Jakob Silfverberg
Ducks' Silferverg Expected To Land On Second Line
Jakob Silfverberg, RW, ANA
12:27 AM
News: Jakob Silfverberg is expected to serve as a second-line player for the Ducks this season, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: After earning the trust of coach Bruce Boudreau during the postseason, Jakob Silfverberg will have the opportunity to flank Ryan Kesler, which should allow him to surpass last season's totals of 10 goals and 13 assists over 52 games. A former MVP in the Swedish Elite League, the 23-year-old Silfverberg may not fully breakout this season, but a 60-point campaign could eventually be realized in the coming years.

Joshua Morrissey
Jets' Morrissey Jockeying For Roster Spot
Joshua Morrissey, D, WPG
12:22 AM
News: Joshua Morrissey remains in contention for an Opening Night roster spot with the Jets, Joanne Ireland of the Edmonton Journal reports.
Analysis: The 2013 first-rounder paired up with Jacob Trouba in Monday's exhibition against the Oilers, providing Jets fans with a glimpse of their future top pairing. Joshua Morrissey didn't do much in his 17:49 of ice time Monday (minus-2, one hit, one block) and is generally expected to head back to his junior team at the end of camp, but he's probably not far away from making an impact in the NHL.

Evander Kane
Jets' Kane Sits Out Monday's Preseason Contest
Evander Kane, LW, WPG
12:16 AM
News: Though he was generally expected to play in Monday's exhibition against the Oilers, Evander Kane ended up sitting out the contest.
Analysis: It's not believed that Evander Kane is dealing with any sort of injury, so perhaps the Jets just decided the winger could use a little more rest in advance of the regular season. He'll likely return to preseason action Tuesday and for the games thereafter, which should afford the coaching staff plenty of time to determine where he fits best. He's expected to receive an audition with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler on the top line, a combination that could help Kane unlock the 60-point potential that exists within him.

 
 
 
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