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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Flames' Hiller early surprise

by Justin Goldman / NHL.com

Every Thursday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey correspondent Justin Goldman, a regional goalie scout for USA Hockey and founder of The Goalie Guild, will provide you with in-depth goalie analysis. From updated weekly top 30 rankings to trending players and more, Goldman will be your go-to guy for fantasy goalie advice all season long.

UPDATED TOP 30 GOALIE RANKINGS

FANTASY HOCKEY ANALYSIS

The 2014-15 NHL season is in full swing, so NHL.com has you covered with weekly fantasy hockey positional rankings, real-time spin updates and waiver wire advice.

The Calgary Flames were tied 3-3 late in the third period Tuesday with the Washington Capitals. With only a few seconds remaining in regulation, Flames goalie Jonas Hiller pulled off a beautiful right-toe reaction save on Capitals forward Tom Wilson to earn a point in the standings and plenty of public praise from his coach.

Thanks to Sean Monahan's overtime game-winner, that save also helped Calgary earn a second point.

"We had a breakdown and we missed an assignment and they ended up 2-on-1 and I knew there was still plenty of time," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "They had the big boys on the ice, but [Hiller], for us, this was the save of the year. The two points go to [Hiller] all the way."

Hiller stopped 31 of 34 shots that night, extending his record to 6-0-1 in his past seven games and making him an early favorite for the "Biggest Surprise of the Year" award. But a streak like this is nothing new to Hiller. He kicked off last season with four straight wins (124 saves on 130 shots), then went on a tear in December, winning a mind-boggling 14 straight games (28 goals against).

Not only does Hiller's 1.96 goals-against average and .935 save percentage put him sixth overall in the NHL for goalies playing at least five games, but he has only allowed more than three goals once in his nine appearances.

Overall workload is playing a huge role in Hiller's value through the first month of the season. He has faced 30 or more shots in six of his nine games, including one of the best "steals" from a goalie so far this season; a 49-save, 2-1 overtime win back on Oct. 15 in Chicago.

While Hiller has earned a few wins almost single-handedly, one key area where Calgary's defense has aided his fantasy value is on the penalty kill.

Allowing only 35 power-play shots against in Hiller's nine games, Calgary has logged 62:43 of penalty kill time in 14 games, which is the lowest average in the NHL. So if the Flames continue to stay disciplined, Hiller should continue to see more routine and controllable 5-on-5 situations, where he's currently posting a .945 save percentage.

Jonas Hiller
STATS PRIOR TO NOV. 6 GAMES
RECORD: 6-2-1
GAA: 1.96 | SVP: .935
Not to take away from Hiller's impressive play, but give credit to Calgary's defensive pairing of Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie. Each is currently in the top-10 for minutes played at 5-on-5 (Brodie is at 251:28 and Giordano is at 234:52), and the defensive system as a whole is blocking close to 20 shots a game, compared to an average of 17.7 last season.

Another situation where Hiller is thriving is in the third period. He has allowed four goals in the third this season, stopping 80 of 84 shots (.952 save percentage). That's only 30 percent of his total shots faced, but it's a good sign he's not losing focus or tiring out in the final minutes.

Speaking of not being tired, there's a good chance Hiller will continue to get the bulk of the starts in November. The Flames only have one back-to-back set this month, and it's not until Nov. 25-26 when they travel to Anaheim and then San Jose.

So while we're still only looking at a four-week sample size, considering where Calgary was slated in most preseason rankings, there's no doubt that Hiller has been one of the most impressive fantasy goalies this season.


Ryan Miller
STATS PRIOR TO NOV. 6 GAMES
RECORD: 9-1-0
GAA: 2.21 | SVP: .917
TRENDING UP

Ryan Miller, Vancouver Canucks

With six straight wins, Miller now leads the League in that key fantasy category thanks to a 9-1-0 start. His 2.21 GAA and .916 save percentage are not earth-shattering, but he has allowed two goals or less in each of his past six wins and in eight of his 10 games. Furthermore, of the 21 goals he has allowed this season, only three have come in the third period.

TRENDING DOWN

Kari Lehtonen, Dallas Stars

Currently 0-2-2 in his past four games, Lehtonen continues to try and push through early-season mediocrity. His .904 save percentage is outside of the top 30 in the NHL and he's fighting the puck more than usual. He also has just one win in six home games, posting a lowly .895 save percentage and 3.24 GAA in Dallas.

Jake Allen
STATS PRIOR TO NOV. 6 GAMES
RECORD: 3-1-0
GAA: 1.00 | SVP: .959
KEEP AN EYE ON

Jake Allen, St. Louis Blues

After earning his second consecutive shutout on Tuesday night, Allen is now 3-1-0 this season with 93 saves on 97 shots, a .959 save percentage. His personal shutout streak currently sits at 127:30 minutes, and he now has a 12-5-0 career record with a 2.13 GAA and .916 save percentage in 19 career games. He gets an opportunity to extend his shutout streak at home Thursday against New Jersey.


TOP 30 FANTASY GOALIES

These modified re-rankings are a projection of a goalie's fantasy output for the entire season. Our ranks are based on volume categories like games played, wins, saves, goals-against average (GAA) and save percentage (SV%). 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 Jonathan Quick, LAK (SAME) 16 Jimmy Howard, DET (+1)
2 Tuukka Rask, BOS (+2) 17 Jonas Hiller, CGY (+5)
3 Pekka Rinne, NSH (+2) 18 Cory Schneider, NJD (-2)
4 Ben Bishop, TBL (-1) 19 Roberto Luongo, FLA (+1)
5 Carey Price, MTL (-3) 20 Frederik Andersen, ANA (NR-IR)
6 Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT (+2) 21 Corey Crawford, CHI (NR-IR)
7 Kari Lehtonen, DAL (-1) 22 Jaroslav Halak, NYI (-3)
8 Henrik Lundqvist, NYR (-1) 23 Darcy Kuemper, MIN (-2)
9 Brian Elliott, STL (+1) 24 Ondrej Pavelec, WPG (SAME)
10 Semyon Varlamov, COL (-1) 25 Mike Smith, ARI (-2)
11 Ryan Miller, VAN (+3) 26 Robin Lehner, OTT (-1)
12 Jonathan Bernier, TOR (-1) 27 Ben Scrivens, EDM (SAME)
13 Antti Niemi, SJS (SAME) 28 Karri Ramo, CGY (-2)
14 Craig Anderson, OTT (+4) 29 Steve Mason, PHI (-1)
15 Braden Holtby, WSH (-3) 30 Jake Allen, STL (NEW)

Dropped out: Ray Emery

Key injuries: Sergei Bobrovsky, John Gibson, Jonas Gustavsson

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