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In the Cage: New Year's resolutions

By Justin Goldman - NHL.com Correspondent

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In the Cage: New Year's resolutions
For struggling netminders like Jonas Hiller, Dwayne Roloson and Ilya Bryzgalov, the new year provides an opportunity to make a few changes for the positive -- at least fantasy owners hope.
Every Monday during the season, goalie specialist and founder of The Goalie Guild Justin Goldman 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.

For every NHL goaltender, a new year opens the door for a new resolve. Those failing to live up to our expectations can still salvage the season by finding ways to reverse their fortunes, but it has to happen starting right now. With this in mind, we pick five of the biggest disappointments so far this season and then post their New Year's resolutions for what we hope will be successful second halves.

Jonas Hiller -- Must resolve to average at least three more timely saves per game, and must post below a 2.50 goals-against average at home. Heading into January, Hiller is just 7-9-1 with a 3.31 GAA and .893 save percentage at the Honda Center in Anaheim, which calls for much doubt surrounding his second-half projections. We think the potential is there, but the odds are anywhere from low to moderate. Maybe the return of injured forward Jason Blake will help balance the team's offensive attack.

Ryan Miller -- Must resolve to forget the drama that transpired in the first half of the season, and simply focus on stopping pucks by pushing the mental reset button. Regardless of past injuries, poolies expect Miller to be one of the top goalies to own, and he can carry that label in the second half if he clears his mind and rediscovers his true self. To us, that's the one with the aggressive positioning, quality rebound control and even-keeled, confident attitude that frustrates his foes.

Dwayne Roloson -- Must resolve to duplicate the success he had late last season. This starts by simply stringing together three wins in a row. If he can gain that type of momentum in January, he has the experience, work ethic and leadership to quickly reclaim the starting role. This might be the only way Tampa Bay edges its way into the playoffs, and the only way Roloson salvages any legit fantasy value. 

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 of course 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.
Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Curtis Sanford

Players on IR: Mike Smith, Jose Theodore (likely)
Ilya Bryzgalov -- Must resolve to forget about the Winter Classic and "24/7" buzz by focusing on two things: the puck and his timing. We all knew he needed some time to transition from Phoenix to Philly, but the fight for playoff positioning begins today. As an elite goalie with mountainous expectations, Bryzgalov must resolve to work harder in practice and make sure his best saves are being made right now and in April. Otherwise, it could be the Sergei Bobrovsky show in the second half of the season.

James Reimer -- Must resolve to play with more confidence by challenging shooters more effectively. On too many occasions, Reimer is getting caught too deep in his crease, which is exposing too much space for shooters to pick him apart. By being more aggressive in the crease (especially on the PK) and more confident in his abilities, he'll look bigger, play bigger, and have a bigger fantasy value in the second half.

TRENDING UPWARD

Tomas Vokoun -- The Capitals are rolling, and Vokoun is back on his horse. Since relieving Michal Neuvirth against Buffalo on Dec. 26, he's 3-0-0, stopping 107 of 112 shots (.955 save percentage). More importantly, Vokoun kicks off 2012 by going 5-2-0 in December with a 2.15 GAA and .930 save percentage. So thanks to some improved footwork and a timely relief effort last week, his confidence is rising at just the right time.   

Evgeni Nabokov -- Not only has Nabokov earned an elusive string of starts for the Islanders, but the lowest-scoring team in the NHL is showing a few subtle signs of increased offense. Nabokov has gone 2-1-0 in his last three games, stopping 85 of his last 89 shots (.955 save percentage) along the way. He went just 3-3-0 in December, but still posted a very solid 2.04 GAA and .920 save percentage.

Corey Crawford -- After watching Ray Emery carry the torch for two weeks, Crawford closed out 2011 with a positive stretch of play. Capped by a huge 3-2 win over Detroit last Friday night, he is now 3-1-0 since Dec. 21, stopping 119 of 125 shots (a .952 save percentage). Relying on his work ethic and ability to battle hard in the crease, Crawford's confidence is coming back, and it included a few timely wins in very tough starts.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

Ilya Bryzgalov -- Since the first episode of HBO's "24/7" aired back on Dec. 14, Bryzgalov has gone 0-3-1 and allowed 16 goals on 87 shots (an .816 save percentage). There's a possible correlation between the two, as he has appeared distracted and inattentive in the crease. How he handles being benched for the Winter Classic will play a major role in his value moving forward, but Bobrovsky will have to falter first.

Nikolai Khabibulin -- With just one win in his last five starts, the wheels are quickly falling off Khabibulin's game right now. The NHL's best goaltender in October is being victimized and wearing down, thus his value has plummeted in the past two weeks. He went 2-5-0 in December with a 3.20 GAA and .896 save percentage. So be advised, as Edmonton's next five opponents are Chicago, Buffalo, St. Louis, Dallas, and New Jersey. 

Carey Price -- We certainly don't place much blame on Price for the current struggles plaguing the Canadiens, but the fact remains that he's still not living up to lofty expectations. With one of the heaviest workloads in the NHL, poolies need wins from Price, and those have been few and far between lately. He has just one in his last eight, to be exact, and he went just 4-6-3 with a .908 save percentage in December.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Jacob Markstrom -- With Jose Theodore on the shelf with an injury for a few weeks, it's time for poolies to snag Markstrom once again. Considered the best goalie prospect in the world not playing in the NHL full time, Markstrom returns to the Panthers after going 4-4-0 with a 2.23 GAA and .927 save percentage in December for the San Antonio Rampage (AHL).
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