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Shots on Goal: Starting to fall

by | Rotowire.com
  •  

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
Lars Eller
Habs' Eller Done With Lower-Body Injury
Lars Eller, C, MON
2/2/2015
News: Lars Eller suffered a lower-body injury in Sunday's game against the Coyotes and will not return, Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette reports.
Analysis: Lars Eller returned to the bench after suffering the injury, but it must have been worse than he first thought, as he will now sit for the remainder of Sunday's tilt. His next chance to return will come Tuesday against the Sabres, and he should receive an updated status at some point prior to the opening faceoff.

Scott Hannan
Sharks' Hannan Misses Practice Sunday
Scott Hannan, D, SJ
2/2/2015
News: Scott Hannan did not skate in practice Sunday, Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area reports.
Analysis: It's unclear when exactly Scott Hannan's injury occurred, assuming that is the case, but he reportedly still could play tomorrow. Over 38 games this season, the blueliner has recorded just one point.

Devan Dubnyk
Wild's Dubnyk Gets The Start Sunday
Devan Dubnyk, G, MIN
2/2/2015
News: Devan Dubnyk will start in net against the Canucks on Sunday according to the Wild's telecast.
Analysis: Devan Dubnyk is coming off a great outing in which he stopped all of the 30 shots he faced en route to a 1-0 win over the Flames. He will look to find that magic again Sunday as the Wild wrap up a three-game road trip.

Derek Dorsett
Canucks' Dorsett (Neck) Playing Sunday
Derek Dorsett, RW, VAN
2/2/2015
News: Derek Dorsett (neck) is in the lineup Sunday against the Wild.
Analysis: Derek Dorsett took part in Saturday's practice, making it a decent bet he would return to the lineup. That is indeed the case, as he will look to add to his 14-point total he carries into the contest.

Johnny Boychuk
Isles' Trying To Sign Boychuk
Johnny Boychuk, D, NYI
2:39 PM
News: The Islanders and Johnny Boychuk have begun negotiations on a new contract, according to the Islanders Point Blank.
Analysis: These negotiations aren't expected to end anytime soon but where once it looked unlikely that Johnny Boychuk would end up re-signing with the Islanders, now it may be unlikely that he leaves. The Isles have also received inquiries if they would be interested in trading Boychuk should these negotiations break down, but that seems highly improbable at this time.

Tye McGinn
Sharks' McGinn (Undisclosed) Misses Practice
Tye McGinn, LW, SJ
1:08 PM
News: Tye McGinn (undisclosed) did not skate in Sunday's practice, Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area reports.
Analysis: Tye McGinn exited Saturday's contest against the Blackhawks in the first period and did not return due to the injury. His status for Monday's game against the Oilers appears to be in doubt, which could leave the door open for Daniil Tarasov to make his NHL debut.

Dustin Byfuglien
Jets' Byfuglien Collects 14 PIM In Loss
Dustin Byfuglien, D, WPG
12:54 PM
News: Dustin Byfuglien picked up 14 PIM in Saturday's loss to the Stars.
Analysis: Dustin Byfuglien is contributing in almost every fantasy category, racking up 12 goals, 33 points, 97 PIM, 152 shots on goal, and a plus-8 rating in 51 games this season. Averaging a whopping 23:05 of ice time, Big Buff is a great fantasy play in almost all formats. Keep him rolling.

Tyler Seguin
Stars' Seguin Cashes In On Power Play
Tyler Seguin, C, DAL
12:42 PM
News: Tyler Seguin dished out three power-play assists and had a game-high nine shots on goal in Saturday's win over Winnipeg.
Analysis: Tyler Seguin's superior season continues, as his 56 points are second-most in the league, while his 204 shots on goal are next to only Alexander Ovechkin. On pace for 90 points, Seguin is an automatic roll whenever he's in action.

John Klingberg
Stars' Klingberg Records Three PP Points In Win
John Klingberg, D, DAL
12:33 PM
News: John Klingberg recorded a goal and two assists on the power play and added an even-strength tally in Saturday's win over Winnipeg.
Analysis: What a monster night for the 22-year-old, who logged 22:23 of ice time, including a whopping 7:17 of man advantage time. He's got five goals and 11 points in his last eight games, giving him 24 points in 35 games on the season. This rising stud has had seven multi-point outings this season and is playing on the top power-play unit with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. Do you really need any more reasons to grab him off the waiver wire? Snag him while you can, as he's the real deal.

Curtis McElhinney
Blue Jackets' McElhinney Takes Loss
Curtis McElhinney, G, CLB
12:24 PM
News: Curtis McElhinney was beaten by the Lightning on Saturday, giving up three goals on 34 shots in a 3-1 loss.
Analysis: Curtis McElhinney has now surrendered three goals in each of his last three starts, managing a single win against Washington. Columbus has had a rotten go of it this season, with a plethora of injuries to key players like Brandon Dubinsky, Nathan Horton and -- on multiple occasions -- workhorse netminder Sergei Bobrovsky, who is currently sidelined for another three-to-five weeks with a groin ailment. McElhinney has never appeared in more than 28 games in a season during his seven-year NHL career, so it'll be interesting to see how he holds up if coach Todd Richards keeps turning to him in Bobrovsky's absence. As of now, he's carrying a 5-8-1 record, a 3.00 GAA and a .907 save percentage through 18 appearances.

 
 
 
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