Fantasy goalies: Crawford's Vezina-quality season

Thursday, 01.21.2016 / 12:00 PM
David Satriano  - Fantasy Staff Writer

The Chicago Blackhawks have been in the headlines this season because of how well they have played. While teammate Patrick Kane has garnered attention for his MVP season thus far, goaltender Corey Crawford has taken a backseat.

Crawford (99 percent owned in Yahoo Leagues) has won nine games in a row and allowed more than two goals twice. Chicago has been scoring during its 12 game winning streak, with 47 goals, but has allowed 22.

He leads all goalies in saves (1,101) and shutouts (six), and is second in shots-against (1,183). Among goalies to play at least 20 games he's ninth in goals-against average (2.14) and second in save percentage (.934). He's 27-10-2, three wins behind Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals for first.

Crawford already has set an NHL career-high in shutouts, and barring an injury should surpass his career NHL high in wins (33). Crawford also could end up with his highest save percentage and lowest goals-against average in a season.

We know he will pile up the wins; Crawford has more than 30 wins in his first four 82-game NHL seasons. But this season could end up being a special one for Crawford, who is one of the front runners for the Vezina Trophy and has been an MVP for his fantasy owners. He moves up to No. 1 in my goalie rankings update.


Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

The numbers may not be eye-popping (16-13-4, 2.45 GAA, .918 save percentage) but Rask has four shutouts and has played much better during the past two months, including winning two straight games while allowing a combined three goals.

Rask (96 percent owned) has a .925 even-strength save percentage and a .952 shorthanded save percentage. It's been his power-play save percentage that has been the issue, as is the case with many goalies; he's allowed 17 goals on 125 power-play shots (.864 save percentage).

He's also been really good on the road (8-4-3, 1.89 GAA, .939 save percentage) and I would highly recommend starting him each time he plays away from TD Garden, even if you bench him for the occasional home game.


Antti Niemi, Dallas Stars

The Stars have lost four straight games (0-3-1) and seven of eight (1-5-2). The tandem of Niemi and Kari Lehtonen was supposed to help shore up the defensive issues the Stars had last season but they still rank near the bottom of the League in goals allowed.

Niemi (77 percent owned) is 0-2-2 with 15 goals-allowed in his past four games. Among goalies to play at least 15 games, he's 26th in GAA (2.46) and 30th in save percentage (.913). Lehtonen (63 percent owned) hasn't fared much better, allowing seven goals in his past two games. The two have split starts in the past eight games, but Niemi holds a 26-21 advantage in starts. However now would be a good time to move him if you can.


Cam Talbot, Edmonton Oilers

Talbot had started the past three games for the Oilers before getting a night off Tuesday. In his past three games he's 2-0-1, has allowed four goals, all at even strength, and stopped 98 of 102 shots. Although he took a backseat to Anders Nilsson in November and December, the Oilers recently signed Talbot to a three-year contract extension.

Talbot (41 percent owned) is 9-13-3 with a 2.56 GAA and a .915 save percentage and has made at least 30 saves in each of his past three starts. It appears the Oilers will rely on him more going forward. This season Talbot has made 25 starts to Nilsson's 23. And Nilsson (10 percent owned) wasn't good Tuesday, allowing five goals on 30 shots in a 6-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He allowed the game-winning goal in the third period came when he skated to the right circle to play the puck and instead turned it over for a shorthanded goal by the Lightning's Brian Boyle.


-- Ryan Miller (79 percent owned) returned from injury last week for the Vancouver Canucks and has been outstanding in each start. He's 1-1-1 but has a .949 save percentage, including making 47 saves in a 2-1 shootout win against the New York Islanders on Sunday and 46 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday.

-- Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (79 percent owned) made his first start Tuesday since Dec. 8. He allowed five goals on 27 shots in the Blue Jackets' 6-3 loss to the Washington Capitals.

-- St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott (71 percent owned) is 5-1-1 with a 2.14 GAA and a .936 save percentage, including 29 saves in a 2-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday, since taking over for injured starter Jake Allen.

-- With the Carolina Hurricanes placing Cam Ward (39 percent owned) on injured reserve Wednesday because of a concussion, Eddie Lack (15 percent owned) will see an increase in starts. Lack has allowed four or more goals in five games this season, but has overcome a slow start to post a 5-2-2 record in his past nine outings.


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