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.

REAL

  • 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.

REAL

  • 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.

UNREAL

  • 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.

REAL

  • 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.

UNREAL

  • 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.

REAL

  • 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.

UNREAL

  • 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.

REAL

  • 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.

REAL

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.

  1. Biggie Smalls says:
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    What are your thoughts on the situation in Detroit?

    Howard is going back to his vintage form, but it seems the team has committed to Mrazek.

    I ask because I traded JT Miller for Mrazek last night. I thought I pulled a classic sell high buy low, but others in my league don’t think I did very well.

    It is a roto league, Cats are G/A/PPP/+-/PIM/SOG/HIT/BLK W/SV/SV%/GAA/SHO

    • theearly90s says:
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      Howard’s starting tomorrow, so that’s four straight.

    • Matt

      Matt says:
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      @theearly90s: @Biggie Smalls: It’s hard to ignore the numbers that Howard is putting up right now. He’s got an insanely high .961 save percentage, and now a couple of wins in a row to go with it. But that’s part of the problem here. It’s an incredibly small sample size that points toward a hot streak rather than something that’s here to stay. To put it in perspective: He is playing 38 points above his best season ever. He finished at .924 in 2009-10, and in 2012-13, he hit .923. But since then, he’s consistently been a .910 kinda guy. So when Howard comes back to Earth, as I believe he will, it could be a pretty hard crash; and you ought to have the last laugh with Mrazek. That’s my 2 cents, anyway.

      • Biggie Smalls says:
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        @Matt: Thanks for getting back to me. The Howard regression seems to have started friday night.

        Since i acquired Mrazek, I have made another trade sending Cam Talbot out to the last place goalie needy team for Taylor Hall. My goalies are now Mrazek, Martin Jones and Lehner.

        I am currently in first place, but was looking somewhat lousy at LW with only Ovechkin and Evander Kane as my two starters. I feel like pairing Hall with Ovy is a great combo. and carrying 4 goaltenders in a roto league where there are only 2 starting spots seems excessive.

        I have gone from Jt Miller and Talbot to Mrazek and Taylor Hall in the past week. Would you consider this a win? roto league, Cats are G/A/PPP/+-/PIM/SOG/HIT/BLK W/SV/SV%/GAA/SHO.

        • Matt

          Matt says:
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          @Biggie Smalls: Yeah, I’d call it a win. Miller is a tricky player to assess. On the one hand, he’s putting up nearly a point per game, as a third liner. On the other hand… The Rangers are so stacked at forward that he’s a third liner. Everyone on that team is scoring right now, so that doesn’t make much difference, but what does make a difference is PPP and SOG, and Hall is getting HUGE minutes on the man advantage (last 5 games, he’s logged over 4:00 on average) while Miller is not even a regular on the power play. Miller of course, picks up hits and blocks, so there is some balance. Still, Hall plus a month of someone like Cal Clutterbuck in your lineup will even out the defensive categories nicely.

          As for the goalies, that looks pretty even to me. You’re taking on some risk with Mrazek, while Talbot is pretty much locked in as the starter. But, the Oilers, as good as they’ve been to start the season, are still going to have some growing pains. I’m not convinced that their defence is THAT good yet.

          • Biggie Smalls says:
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            @Matt: I am curious if you see the Jonathan Bernier buy low right now that I think I am seeing. I have a feeling Bernier is going to start stealing starts for the Ducks. Gibson has been very young and inconsistent. Bernier has been steady and reliable. His history with Carlyle is well known. The Ducks have some interesting matchups ahead which I think could lend themselves well to a veteran taking the reins.

            Steve Mason and Bernier are both on my waiver wire, and I am watching both like a hawk, to pick up and potentially use as trade chips.

            • Matt

              Matt says:
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              @Biggie Smalls: Because of Neuvirth’s injury (out 4-to-6 weeks) I would say Mason is must pick up right now. As for Bernier, he’s a great ‘stash-and-see’ play, I agree. The Ducks goaltending has been maddening to say the least, over the past 2-3 years. The question is, how long will they stand by the under-performing Gibson before giving way to the hot hand (Bernier)? They are not overly invested financially in Gibson (“only” $1.5 Million this year), but they did trade away Andersen so that Gibson could take on most of the starts. My feeling is that as long as he teases them with his inconsistent good/bad starts, they will let him work it out on the ice. But if he has a few more stinkers these next few games, I’d say Bernier is in the right place, right time to take advantage.

              One more thought. In the long run, I think whomever is the starter in Anaheim will post positive results. Their defence corps is young and impressive. They and their goaltender should all improve together with age.

  2. 3 goalie max. & I have Pekka Rinne, Luongo & Robin Lehner. Recently I dropped Lehner for Hellebuyck, but Hell Boy was inconsistent and Lehner was playing quite good, so I swapped them back around before someone scooped up Lehner. When Hellebuyck’s been good, he’s been pretty good — and when he’s been bad, it’s mostly been something less than a total tragedy. It looks like things are trending distinctly toward Hellebuyck holding onto the No. 1 role. What do you think Matt, would you drop Lehner for Hell Boy? My main concerns with Lehner are W’s and injury. Thanx!

    • @madden_curser: Hellebuyck hadanother solid outing. He has started 4 in a row & has wins in 3 of those. He still isn’t blowing me away with his numbers but he is getting there. Also, Trouba isn’t yet back in the lineup, so it can only get better.

    • Matt

      Matt says:
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      @madden_curser: It’s a tough call, since honestly, I like both of them. But if I have to choose one, I’m a big believer in Lehner. As long as he’s healthy, he’s capable of putting up elite numbers. His .950 save percentage over the last 6 games comes with only 3 wins, but he’s facing a high number shots and quite consistently turning most of them away. The Sabres will get Eichel back in a few weeks, and that ought to help the offense. Meanwhile, Hellebuyck had a rough start and yes, it looks like he’s now locking down the starting role, but he’s going to be less consistent. You’ll have to put up with the odd stinker, like the recent 12-for-16 vs. the Rangers, among the good starts.

      • @Matt: It’s been a tough season for Halak thus far and someone in our league dropped him to waivers. Is he a significant upgrade to Lehner or hold? I’m not adverse to keeping Lehner, he’s just my weakest goalie, and only because he doesn’t get many wins, but like you said, Eichel will return soon. Lehner has 4 wins with and a 2.14 GAA in 7 road starts . Not bad, but I don’t want to let an opportunity slip bye if Halak is projected to be better ROS. Thank you Matt.

        • Matt

          Matt says:
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          @madden_curser: I would not drop him for Lehner, since Lehner is the bona fide starter for his team — and has been playing extremely well. I’ll take that any day over a goalie in a committee who seems to be getting yanked every other start (slight hyperbole, but you get the point). The fact the Greiss is doing no better means Halak is worth a flyer — I’d consider dropping someone else for him and holding him, but would not for Lehner.

  3. Scott says:
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    Should I drop Niemi for Pickard?

    • Matt

      Matt says:
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      @Scott: That sounds like a trick question. First, depends on how large your league is. I’m going to assume 12, but if it’s larger, then Niemi gets a little more valuable.

      The short answer is this: Personally, I want Dallas goaltenders as far away from my fantasy teams as possible. Their defence is a complete mess, and even though they will get their goalies some wins eventually, the price you’ll pay in save percentage likely won’t be worth it. Not only would I drop him, but I would quietly enjoy the fact that whichever team in your league picks him up (because someone will!) just got a little bit worse.

      Pickard is a great keeper pickup. In a re-draft league, I’m not sure how much he’ll help. I don’t see him running away with the starting gig just yet, but it’s clear that the Avs WANT him to, so they are giving him every opportunity. It’s a gamble, but with a potentially high reward if he does take over the starting role.

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