Every Thursday during the season, Justin Goldman, the Director of Goalie Scouting for McKeen's Hockey and founder of The Goalie Guild, will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy goaltenders in NHL.com's weekly segment: "In the Cage." From updated goalie rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Goldman will be your fantasy goalie expert all season long.
Over the last week, two goalies that are likely available in your fantasy league are quickly emerging as potential steals. With their experience and early success stabilizing their team's play, they are posting valuable fantasy stats and improving their likelihood to play in more games than anyone projected.
Viktor Fasth has now started three of Anaheim's last four games, and he's the first goalie in Ducks history to win his first four NHL games. After last night's 31-save shutout win over Colorado, he now carries a league-best 0.98 goals-against average and .962 save percentage.
Not only has Fasth stopped 101 of the 105 total shots he's faced, but he has stopped all 15 power-play shots faced. He also has the only shutout in the NHL so far this week, which is a juicy point for owners.
Back on Monday, he was owned in just three percent of Yahoo! leagues. As of this morning, he was owned by 32-percent of poolies ... and that number will keep rising.
Clearly, Fasth is no ordinary rookie. The 30-year-old was the Swedish Elite League's top goaltender (Honken Trophy) two years in a row, and he has played some of his best hockey with Team Sweden in the last two World Championship tournaments.
More importantly, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau already has the confidence to keep handing him starts. With three more back-to-back sets this month among Anaheim's nine games remaining in February, it's safe to expect him to play in three or four of them, maybe even more.
And since he's coming off a shutout, we expect Fasth will start again in Dallas on Friday.
Shifting gears to the Eastern Conference, regardless of where or how often he plays, Tomas Vokoun continues to post a quality save percentage. Currently owned in 45-percent of Yahoo! leagues, Vokoun's latest outing was a 6-3 win over Washington. That pushed him to 3-1 overall with a 2.44 GAA, .927 SV%.
Despite the fact Marc-Andre Fleury has played well (4-2-0 with a .907 SV%), Vokoun has already worked his way into five games, has one shutout, and has earned the trust of his coach and teammates.
At age 36, Vokoun is a mature, consistent, and reliable goalie to own. Younger goalies often see their value spike and crash without warning, but Vokoun has nothing to lose in a backup role, and he's playing behind an explosive offensive team. So even in games where he might allow a weak or untimely goal, he has the support in front to still earn wins for your fantasy team.
So who else could potentially emerge as a strong value in goal next week?
As of today, we don't feel there's much to choose from. Leland Irving and Danny Taylor may get a chance to string some starts together during Miikka Kiprusoff's absence, but he's only listed as day-to-day. James Reimer has certainly shown an improvement in many areas of his game, as he has three wins in six games and a .917 SV%. Finally, Petr Mrazek is making his NHL debut Thursday night for Detroit.
But if you're looking for a reliable goaltender, you can't go wrong with Fasth or Vokoun.
1. Ilya Bryzgalov: Despite a 4-5-0 record, Bryzgalov has been one of Philadelphia's best players so far this season. His 2.24 GAA and .923 SV% and fourth-highest saves (240) and shots (260) totals is boosting his value. Furthermore, three of his four wins are on home ice, which is where he'll be playing tonight and Saturday against Florida and Carolina respectively.
2. Pekka Rinne: After going 0-2-3 in his first five games, Rinne has bounced back with three straight wins, allowing just one goal in each game. Whether it was sheer coincidence or a "comfort" thing, his winning streak started when he switched from new CCM Extreme-Flex pads back to Reebok Premier 4 pads. He has stopped 80 of his last 83 shots faced, and sits eighth in GAA (2.02).
3. Mike Smith: Allowing 10 goals on his first 61 shots, Smith's start was ominous. But a home-and-home series against Dallas generated a timely spark. He's now 2-0-1 with a shutout in his last three games, allowing just four goals on 87 shots. After giving up 20 goals in their first five games, Phoenix has now allowed just seven in their last five games.
1. Ryan Miller: In his first three games, Miller appeared to be in mid-season form, stopping 100 of 105 shots. But he has now allowed four goals in each of his last four games. That's 16 goals on just 120 shots, a measly .867 SV%. Only two goalies have allowed more goals this season than Miller, and his 3.11 GAA is 31st overall out of 42 goalies.
2. Jonas Hiller: As Fasth's value rises, Hiller's begins to fall. He has allowed 12 goals in his last three games, with a striking majority beating him blocker side. He has three wins in five games, but Anaheim's offense is currently tied for second in the league at 3.44 goals per game (St. Louis), so he's getting ample support. In fact, the Ducks have scored three or more goals in all but one game he has played in.
3. Braden Holtby: Capitals coach Adam Oates gave Holtby the "starter" tag to begin the season, but two losses led to five straight starts by Michal Neuvirth. He also ruined his early-season value when he gave up six goals on 26 shots in a loss to Pittsburgh. He's now just 1-3-0 with a .862 SV%, and he may not see the net again until Saturday or next Tuesday.
KEEP AN EYE ON…
Danny Taylor: When Miikka Kiprusoff left Tuesday night's game against Detroit with a lower-body injury, Calgary was without a legit third-string goalie. That led them to sign Taylor, who earned the two-way contract by posting a 1.77 GAA and .930 SV% in 26 games in Abbotsford. Taylor is one of the best goalies in the AHL this season, so he's certainly worth watching.
TOP 30 FANTASY GOALIES
These modified re-rankings are a projection of a goalie's fantasy output for the entire season. Our rankings are based on volume categories like games played, wins, saves, and GAA and SP%. The plus or minus for each player is movement based on our most recent rankings from last week (NR means not ranked in previous rankings). It is important to note that our rankings reflect sheer fantasy value, not talent. A less-talented goalie could be ranked higher due to their team's strong defense and offense.
1. Tuukka Rask, Bruins (same)
2. Carey Price, Montreal (+3)
3. Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers (same)
4. Pekka Rinne, Predators (+3)
5. Craig Anderson, Ottawa (+3)
6. Ryan Miller, Sabres (-4)
7. Jonathan Quick, Kings (-1)
8. Antti Niemi, Sharks (+3)
9. Marc-Andre Fleury, Penguins (same)
10. Kari Lehtonen, Dallas (same)
11. Ilya Bryzgalov, Flyers (+3)
12. Mike Smith, Coyotes (IR)
13. Niklas Backstrom, Wild (+3)
14. Cam Ward, Hurricanes (+1)
15. Jonas Hiller, Ducks (-3)
16. Cory Schneider, Canucks (-3)
17. Corey Crawford, Blackhawks (+2)
18. Roberto Luongo, Canucks (+2)
19. Semyon Varlamov, Avalanche (-2)
20. Martin Brodeur, Devils (+1)
21. Jimmy Howard, Red Wings (-3)
22. Brian Elliott, Blues (same)
23. Anders Lindback, Lightning (+2)
24. Evgeni Nabokov, Islanders (same)
25. Devan Dubnyk, Oilers (+3)
26. James Reimer, Maple Leafs (+4)
27. Ondrej Pavelec, Jets (same)
28. Sergei Bobrovsky, Blue Jackets (-2)
29. Viktor Fasth, Anaheim (NR)
30. Michal Neuvirth, Capitals (-1)
* Jaroslav Halak, Blues (IR) (2)
* Miikka Kiprusoff, Flames (IR) (23)