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Fantasy Spin: Goalie fallout from Oil win over 'Nucks

by Eric Lipschutz
Tuesday night's Edmonton Oilers win over the Vancouver Canucks made us realize that although it's still very early, the Oilers may be arriving ahead of schedule while the Canucks' struggles could be a true cause for concern.  In addition, when you look beneath the surface, the game gave fantasy owners plenty to consider regarding the goalie situations on both sides of the ice.

First to the victors.  Heading into the season, the common belief was that the starting goalie job was going to be groomed for 25-year old Devan Dubnyk, who would take the reins of a young up-and-coming team.  Well, apparently, someone forgot to share that with Nikolai Khabibulin.  Khabibulin was stellar between the pipes Tuesday night, limiting the high-octane Canucks offense to just two goals on 37 shots.  Though Dubnyk has been solid so far this season, posting a 2.31 GAA and .920 save percentage, Khabibulin has outperformed him, turning aside an incredible 129 of the 134 shots he has faced, while posting three wins, compared to Dubnyk's one.  

Nikolai Khabibulin had another stellar night in net against the high-octane Canucks offense Tuesday night and seems to have unexpectedly taken over the starting goalie gig in Edmonton, at least for now. (Photo: Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)
With Khabibulin's dominant play to start the season, the Oilers' goalie picture appears to be very muddled at the moment.   Right now, expect a timeshare in net for Edmonton with Khabibulin likely to get the majority of the starts as long as his hot play continues.  It is no guarantee that the 38-year old netminder will be able keep up this torrid pace, but fantasy owners must take notice until Khabibulin shows any signs of slowing down. 

Khabibulin is currently owned in just 34% of Yahoo leagues so be sure to snatch him up now because other fantasy GMs will be quick to take notice in the always-shallow goalie market.   If they haven't already, Dubnyk owners need to add Khabibulin now and continue to closely monitor the goalie situation in Edmonton going forward.  But right now both Oilers goalies need to be owned. 
As far as the Canucks go, there has to be some concern surrounding Roberto Luongo, who was pulled once again in the second period of Tuesday's loss after surrendering three goals in just over five minutes.   Luongo's play so far this season has certainly not inspired much confidence in Canucks' fans or fantasy owners who were worried about the netminder after his rocky performance in last year's Stanley Cup Final.  But despite  his well-documented struggles, Luongo is firmly entrenched as Vancouver's starting goalie, and Cory Schneider's perfect performance in relief Tuesday night won't do much to change that.  

This is disappointing news for Fantasy GMs waiting in the weeds for the talented Schneider to get the opportunity to fulfill his potential.  Playing time with the Canucks has been few and far between for Schneider, while backing up the established Luongo.  However, as long as Luongo continues to underperform, Vancouver is unlikely to deal Schneider to a team in need of a goalie, as they would need to hold onto him as an insurance policy.

So though Schneider may see some more time in net while Luongo attempts to sort out his issues, he seems to be stuck in between a rock and a hard place with the current goaltending situation in Vancouver.  Feel free to stash away Schneider away on your bench if you have the roster space but do not expect much fantasy value from him in the near future.
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