I live in Canada, eh. And what I saw here on election night, and now post-election, was a country shaken to the core in absolute disbelief at how the American election turned out. If that’s how we as a nation are collectively feeling, I can’t imagine how high emotions are running on the other side of the border right now. I’m sure last night’s result cut a lot of social network friend lists in half, for starters. But I’m here to say, for better or worse, dammit man, we have hockey.
An old Zen proverb comes to mind. Goes something like this…
Before election: tape stick, tie up skates…
After election: tape stick, tie up skates…
All right, here go. Goalie Report, Election Reality Check Edition:
It’s early in the season, so we won’t be going through each and every team’s goaltender situation. Instead, we’ll focus on surprises and disappointments. The jury is still out on these guys, which means a prime opportunity for you to take advantage of. Find the owners who feel like the world is ending (because of their poor goaltending, not the election result!) and take advantage by offering them a completely fair deal, that is sneakily going to be much better for you a month from now.
There are two designations.
REAL – Believe the Hype; Get on This Train Before it Leaves the Station; Yes, This is Really Happening.
UNREAL – Too good to be true; Not Yet Ready for Prime Time; Don’t Believe Everything You Read on the Internet.
- Connor Hellebuyck, WPG
Your window to buy low on Hellebuyck is slowly closing. Though he is still somewhat inconsistent, his numbers have steadily improved with each start. Up until recently, he was splitting starts 50-50, but has now played three in a row. Personally, I’m still buying.
- Jeff Zatkoff and Peter Budaj, LA Kings
This one just keeps on getting curiouser and curiouser. Jonathan Quick went down and Zatkoff stepped in. Then Zatkoff got hurt and Budaj stepped in. Remember him? He was kicking around the minors, just waiting for this perfect storm to hit and propel him back to the Big League. It’s a great story – Vet comes to training camp on a tryout, accepts a post in the minors and becomes the MVP. Waits patiently for his chance. Gets his chance. Kicks ass when he gets it. Now… Zatkoff is healthy and Budaj has just put up his second straight shutout. Who knows how long it will last, but I want in, at least temporarily. So should you. He’s not going to keep the job when Quick returns, but that’s months away. There is a reason I had Quick ranked so highly at the start of the season, and that is the elite defence that plays in front of him, and now in front of Budaj.
UNREAL (Because Quick will eventually reclaim the starting role. But, worth checking out!)
- Sergei Bobrovsky, CLB
Three shutouts already. Three!! If you listened to anyone <*ahem*> <*me*> who may have touted Bobrovsky as a sleeper, then you’re sitting pretty now. Injury worries aside, there is no reason he should not continue as he has so far. Okay, small hiccup. He’s without top defenseman Seth Jones for a few weeks, which could cause his numbers to take a small-ish dip.
- Brian Elliott, CAL
The Flames had high hopes for Elliott, but he fell absolutely flat out of the gates with three straight losses. It looked like he had turned a corner, as he followed with three straight wins. But now, he’s gone and lost three in a row again. If you could just pick him up and drop him every three games, I’d say go ahead and do that. Short of that, I wouldn’t touch him right now. It really seems like a case of Elliott getting to know his team, and working with his defence. In other words, he should get better but it will likely take some time for him to find consistency.
- Cam Talbot, EDM
Talbot’s play shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. He’s had great ratios for years, from before he was a starter to last year, when he played with a horrendous defence in front of him. The Oilers finally appear to be the real deal, so Talbot should at minimum improve his win total from last year. If he does that alone, he’s a top 10 goalie.
- Frederik Andersen, TOR
Andersen recently had a 4-game stretch in which he posted a minimum .935 save percentage (.954 on average). He’s won three of his last four starts, and the Leafs certainly seem to have turned a corner. They are playing some very exciting hockey and for the first time in recent memory, winning more than they are losing. All of which bodes well for Andersen, right? Not so fast. The Maple Leafs still have a porous defence. At his best, Andersen is a marvel to watch, but that is not likely to translate into consistency anytime soon. Right now the getting is good. But the bad and the ugly, are right there awaiting their turn.
- John Gibson, ANA
Gibson is another buy for me. He’s making it a more turbulent ride than it probably needs to be, but after a questionable start to the year, Gibson is starting to come around. Don’t expect him to be your ace, but he’s a great #2, and in a keeper league, he’s a no-brainer.
- Craig Anderson, OTT
Anderson has been absolutely on fire lately, playing on a Senators team that is looking better than a lot of people thought it would be. He’s been hit with some tragic news lately; his wife was diagnosed with Cancer and it looked like he might take an extended absence. He returned quickly, but the hot streak cooled a little when he came back. I’m rooting for him, as a lot of people surely will be, but I’m hesitant for a few reasons. First is that part of his success is tied to a team that is surging, and it’s too soon to tell if the Sens improved defence is for real. Second is his propensity for injuries. I don’t believe in the injury-prone tag, but the wear and tear on a goalie adds up with age, and the 35-year old Anderson has missed lengthy periods due to injuries several times in the past few years. Third are his personal issues, which clearly takes precedence over anything hockey related, could take him away from the team at any time. I don’t see him declining so much, but I see a lot of uncertainty.
- Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT
If you scooped up Matt Murray while he was still on the injured list, congrats! We thought this would be a convenient time share, but the timing of Murray’s return coincided with the lacklustre play of Fleury. Three very impressive starts later and Murray is a must-own.
- Calvin Pickard and Semyon Varlamov, COL
It appears we are witnessing a changing of the guard in Colorado. Let’s put this in a nutshell. Last six games, the two goalies have each started three games. Varlamov has been atrocious (0-3, .829 save percentage). Meanwhile, Pickard has been well, let’s just say, “better” (2-1, .930 save percentage). Pickard at this point seems to be a lock to at the very least take on the larger share of the committee. In dynasty leagues, I’d be all over Pickard, but temper your expectations in the short term as he’s still going to have his ups and downs.
REAL (But temper your expectations)
- Pekka RInne, NAS
Rinne burned a lot of people last year (Me), and some of those people (Me) are still not over it. He’s back to doing what some (Me) expected of him when drafting him late in the first round last year. And here’s the thing: his ratios are great, but he’s a less than mediocre 3-7, with 2 shootout losses and an overtime loss included in the total. So the question is, will the Predators improve upon that record going forward? My money is on ‘Yes’ and therefore on Rinne to keep up the stellar play, and add some wins in the process.
Thanks for reading, everyone. If there are other goalies you’re on the fence about that I haven’t mentioned, or if there is anything else you want to ask, please post below.