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Fantasy Spin: Back-to-backs benefit Bruins' Johnson

by Pete Jensen

To this point in the season, Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins has been the most valuable fantasy goalie. His goals-against-average (2.07) and save percentage (.929) are tops in the League among goalies with 50-plus appearances. He also leads the NHL with six shutouts.

But come fantasy playoff time, every goalie start is crucial and back-to-back sets need to be taken into account. "Handcuffing" a quality backup is always a worthwhile tactic to guarantee appearances and prevent your team from disaster if the injury bug strikes.

For those reasons, fantasy owners in deep leagues should take a look at the Bruins' remaining schedule and realize how valuable the team's No. 2 goalie, Chad Johnson, could prove to be.

Current teammates with 15-plus wins apiece in 2013-14 season
Goalie 1
Goalie 2
ANA Jonas Hiller Frederik Andersen
BOS Tuukka Rask Chad Johnson
DET Jimmy Howard Jonas Gustavsson
DAL Kari Lehtonen Tim Thomas*
STL Ryan Miller* Brian Elliott
WSH Jaroslav Halak* Braden Holtby
* Traded to current team prior to deadline

In deep leagues, lower-tier starting goalies such as Eddie Lack (36 percent), James Reimer (47 percent owned in Yahoo leagues) and Joni Ortio (9 percent) may be on your radar because of the time they are likely to see in the coming days and weeks. But Johnson (15 percent) is likely to provide the most quality over quantity among that bunch.

Johnson, who had limited NHL experience (10 career games) with the New York Rangers and Phoenix Coyotes prior to 2013-14, landed the backup gig in Boston and has been effective for a team that continues to benefit from tremendous depth and balance at both ends of the ice. The 27-year-old has won four straight and is 15-3-1 on the season. Much of his success should be attributed to the team he plays for, but that's not something that should hold fantasy owners back from adding him if the situation is right in terms of roster flexibility.

Despite a much smaller sample size, Johnson has a 2.14 GAA and .921 save percentage, similar numbers to those of Rask. Rask and Johnson are one of three active tandems where each goalie has posted 15-plus wins for the same team this season, with the other such teams being the Anaheim Ducks (Jonas Hiller, Frederik Andersen) and the Detroit Red Wings (Jimmy Howard, Jonas Gustavsson).

And while many teams competing for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs or better seeding will be forced to roll with their No. 1 goalie as often as possible to close out the season, the Bruins' schedule caters to their reliable goalie rotation.

Boston's remaining schedule includes four sets of back-to-backs over the team's final 13 games, meaning Johnson is likely to start at least three or four more games. The Bruins have a five-point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference, so fantasy owners can expect the team to take the safe route and avoid playing Rask on consecutive nights unless their lead dwindles.

If you're in a wins-only league, you should pursue any goalie you can find on the waiver wire likely to start a large chunk of his team's remaining games. But if your league takes two or three additional goalie categories into account, you should carefully consider what Johnson brings to the table.


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