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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
Brett Bellemore
Canes' Bellemore Pots First Goal Of Season
Brett Bellemore, D, CAR
12:00 PM
News: Brett Bellemore scored his first goal of the season and collected five PIM in Friday's win over Washington.
Analysis: Brett Bellemore now has six points and a plus-3 rating in 33 games on the season. Considering the defenseman averages just 15:32 of ice time and has only recorded 16 shots on goal, Bellmore is only valuable in the deepest of fantasy leagues.

Mike Smith
Coyotes Stick With Slumping Smith On Saturday
Mike Smith, G, ARI
8:55 AM
News: Mike Smith will be between the pipes for Saturday's game against the Bruins, Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic reports.
Analysis: With seven straight losses on his ledger to drop his season record to a woeful 10-29-5, Mike Smith isn't worth keeping active in most formats at this point. The Bruins might not be nearly as formidable as they were at this point last season, but they're still a much more competitive team than the Coyotes, who have made no secret of their desire to bottom out this season. As such, Smith will be a heavy underdog nearly every time he takes the net the rest of the way.

Jonathan Bernier
Leafs' Bernier To Receive Another Turn In Goal
Jonathan Bernier, G, TOR
8:51 AM
News: Jonathan Bernier will be in the cage for Saturday's game against the Canadiens, Mark Masters of TSN reports.
Analysis: Jonathan Bernier has rebounded from a 10-game winning streak with back-to-back victories in impressive fashion over the Jets and Flyers, but it's probably advisable to stay away from him Saturday night. No goalie in the league has been hotter since the All-Star break than Carey Price, who has won 11 of his last 13 starts while submitting a microscopic 1.28 GAA. Bernier may need to pitch a shutout in order to pick up the win.

Rob Scuderi
Pens' Scuderi Skates Saturday
Rob Scuderi, D, PIT
8:47 AM
News: Rob Scuderi (foot) participated in Saturday's practice, Shelly Anderson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Analysis: Rob Scuderi had been off the ice since logging 16:47 of action in Wednesday's win over the Penguins, but his return to practice suggests he might be available for the Pens' next game Sunday against the Blue Jackets. The team should have a clearer idea on Scuderi's status before pregame warmups.

Sergei Gonchar
Saturday Return Confirmed For Habs' Gonchar
Sergei Gonchar, D, MON
8:44 AM
News: Sergei Gonchar (upper body) will be activated from injured reserve and return to the lineup Saturday against the Maple Leafs, John Lu of TSN Montreal reports.
Analysis: Sergei Gonchar may have some added incentive to bring some physicality to Saturday's proceedings; after all, it was in the game against the Leafs two weeks ago that he suffered the injury when he was blindsided into the boards by David Clarkson, who has since been traded to the Blue Jackets. The 40-year-old defenseman, who has a goal and 12 assists in 41 games this season, will join Greg Pateryn to form on the Habs' third defensive pair.

Devan Dubnyk
Wild's Dubnyk Expected To Start 20th In A Row
Devan Dubnyk, G, MIN
8:36 AM
News: Devan Dubnyk is expected to receive the start in goal Saturday against the Avalanche, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: If that ends up being the case, it would go down as the 20th consecutive start for the netminder, tying Niklas Backstrom's franchise record established in 2009. Devan Dubnyk has been more than deserving of the burdensome workload, as he's gone an incredible 14-3-1 with a 1.68 GAA, .934 save percentage, and five shutouts since his Jan. 14 acquisition from the Coyotes.

Steve Mason
Flyers' Mason Draws Saturday Start
Steve Mason, G, PHI
8:33 AM
News: Steve Mason was the first goalie off the ice at morning skate and will be in the crease for Saturday's game against the Rangers, Sarah Baicker of CSN Philadelphia reports.
Analysis: Steve Mason, who has missed most of the month with a knee injury, was activated from IR prior to Thursday's game against the Maple Leafs, but served in a backup capacity to Rob Zepp. That was only done in an effort to ease him back into action, but Mason still saw duty in the second period in relief of a struggling Zepp, stopping eight of nine shots to take the loss. Staying healthy has been an issue for Mason this season, but he's looked like one of the league's better netminders when he's been able to play, posting a 2.26 GAA and .925 save percentage. With the Flyers only six points behind the Bruins for the final wild-card spot entering play Saturday, expect Mason to shoulder a heavy workload over the season's final month and a half.

Martin Jones
Kings' Jones Coughs Up Lead Late In Rare Start
Martin Jones, G, LA
8:33 AM
News: Martin Jones let in three goals on 31 shots in a 4-2 loss to the Ducks on Friday. The fourth goal was an empty-netter.
Analysis: Making just his 12th appearance of the season and first since Jan. 12, Martin Jones squandered a 2-0 lead in the third period, giving up all three goals in less than seven minutes. His late-game implosion only further distances himself from starter Jonathan Quick, who -- with the Kings fighting for a playoff spot -- is a lock to start almost every one of the Kings' games going forward.

Carey Price
Habs To Go With Price On Saturday
Carey Price, G, MON
8:28 AM
News: Carey Price will be in the crease for Saturday's game against the Maple Leafs, Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports reports.
Analysis: Carey Price has been spectacular all season, but he's been especially magnificent since the All-Star break. In his last 13 starts, he's an incredible 11-1-1 with a 1.28 GAA, .953 save percentage, and three shutouts. He's a must-start against even top-tier teams, much less squads in free-fall mode like the Maple Leafs. It would qualify as a major surprise if he surrendered more than two goals in Saturday's tilt.

John Gibson
Ducks' Gibson Wins Again
John Gibson, G, ANA
8:28 AM
News: John Gibson stopped 20 of 22 shots in a 4-2 win over the Kings on Friday.
Analysis: That's four wins in the last five starts for the rookie, who appears to be adjusting well to life in the NHL. Too bad then, that starter Freddy Anderson (neck) was activated from injured reserve Friday, likely spelling the end of John Gibson's time as a starter. He'll get to stick with the Ducks in a backup role, though, and could be a nice spot-start option down the stretch when Andersen needs a rest.

 
 
 
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