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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Hurricanes' Ward has awoken

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

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward is kind of like the Rip Van Winkle of fantasy hockey.

FANTASY HOCKEY ANALYSIS

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For the first time in more than five seasons Ward has won five games in a row. It’s the first time he has accomplished this feat since stringing together nine straight wins from March 18 to April 9, 2009.

Considering he was 0-3-1 with a .840 save percentage (84 saves on 100 shots) in October, Ward is starting to prove to even his harshest critics that he's waking up from a very lengthy slumber.

During his current five-game win streak, Ward has stopped 123 of 130 shots (.946 save percentage). More impressive, however, is that he has trailed for a total of 17:30 during those five games. Twice he was a game's First Star and in two other games he was named the Third Star.

Even with Carolina's struggles in October, Ward is facing 24.2 even-strength shots per 60 minutes entering play Thursday, which is the second-lowest mark in the NHL among goaltenders to play at least five games.

While shot volume is a key element of overall shot quality, shot location is much more revealing when it comes to gauging a goalie's performance and fantasy value.

With that in mind we gain a better understanding of Ward's value so far this season through the use of a fairly new statistic called Adjusted Save Percentage. According to War-on-Ice.com, this advanced stat incorporates key elements of shot quality, among them shot location and distance from the net, into save percentages. This provides more context and tells a much better story for the most prevalent and oft-used goalie statistic.

According to War-on-Ice, Ward enters the Hurricanes' game Wednesday against the Winnipeg Jets with a .903 unadjusted even-strength save percentage but .913 adjusted save percentage at even strength. Furthermore, 11 of the 17 even-strength goals Ward has allowed have come from what War-on-Ice defines as "high percentage" scoring areas.

Cam Ward
STATS PRIOR TO NOV. 13 GAMES
RECORD: 5-3-1
GAA: 2.53 | SVP: .900
That means Ward is facing more shots from prime scoring areas compared to the rest of the League. This sheds valuable light on his recent turnaround and his somewhat curious low 5-on-5 shot averages.

Speaking of light, another factor that may be playing a role in Ward's success is arena lighting. Similar to what's transpiring with Steve Mason in Philadelphia, Ward told reporters earlier this week that he is seeing the puck better because of a new lighting system at PNC Arena.

That may seem trivial, but good vision is essential to tracking pucks, and better lighting usually will aid in tracking. So far the proof is in the numbers: Ward is 4-1-1 with a .920 save percentage in six home games.

Because it's still early in the season and there are very few injured goalies out there (knock on wood, please), Ward's current ownership in Yahoo fantasy leagues sits at 34 percent. But now that he's backed by the full confidence of Hurricanes coach Bill Peters, Ward will get a chance Thursday to earn his sixth win this month.

So whether you choose to peel back the different layers of his shot quality or more technical aspects of goaltending like his puck tracking and positioning, Ward has done everything he can this month to prove he's ready to once again be a valuable asset in your fantasy league.


Jaroslav Halak
STATS PRIOR TO NOV. 13 GAMES
RECORD: 6-4-0
GAA: 2.57 | SVP: .912
TRENDING UP

Jaroslav Halak, New York Islanders

After going 3-3-0 with a 3.50 GAA and .889 save percentage in October, Halak has strung together three straight wins and two consecutive shutouts. In four November games he's allowed five goals on 104 shots (.952 save percentage). Of the 25 goals he has given up this season, three have come in the first period.

TRENDING DOWN

Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche

Regression is running rampant in the Rockies and Varlamov is one of the unfortunate victims. In four November games he's 0-3-1 with an .890 save percentage. And in five road games this season he's 0-2-3 with a .901 save percentage. He has allowed one power-play goal on 87 shots, but has an .899 even-strength save percentage through 11 games.

Ondrej Pavelec
STATS PRIOR TO NOV. 13 GAMES
RECORD: 7-5-2
GAA: 1.99 | SVP: .928
KEEP AN EYE ON

Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets

Despite a 3-0 loss against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, Pavelec is 3-1-1 in his past five games, allowing seven goals on 161 shots (.957 save percentage). Just like many feel about Ward, it's too soon for Pavelec to make up for a few seasons of frustrating fantasy value. But it is nice to see him posting impeccable stats through the first five weeks of the season.


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 Pekka Rinne, NSH (+2) 16 Semyon Varlamov, COL (-6)
2 Jonathan Quick, LAK (-1) 17 Jaroslav Halak, NYI (+5)
3 Ben Bishop, TBL (+1) 18 Roberto Luongo, FLA (+1)
4 Tuukka Rask, BOS (-2) 19 Cory Schneider, NJD (-1)
5 Carey Price, MTL (SAME) 20 Jonas Hiller, CGY (-3)
6 Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT (SAME) 21 Ondrej Pavelec, WPG (+3)
7 Henrik Lundqvist, NYR (+1) 22 Corey Crawford, CHI (-2)
8 Brian Elliott, STL (+1) 23 Frederik Andersen, ANA (-3)
9 Craig Anderson, OTT (+5) 24 Darcy Kuemper, MIN (-1)
10 Ryan Miller, VAN (+1) 25 Mike Smith, ARI (SAME)
11 Kari Lehtonen, DAL (-4) 26 Jake Allen, STL (+4)
12 Jonathan Bernier, TOR (SAME) 27 Robin Lehner, OTT (-1)
13 Antti Niemi, SJS (SAME) 28 Ben Scrivens, EDM (-1)
14 Braden Holtby, WSH (+1) 29 Steve Mason, PHI (SAME)
15 Jimmy Howard, DET (+1) 30 Karri Ramo, CGY (-2)

Key injuries: Sergei Bobrovsky, John Gibson, Alex Stalock

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