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In the Cage: Damage control for Miller owners

by Justin Goldman
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'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.

With Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller out indefinitely due to a concussion, poolies are feverishly seeking a replacement. This isn't easy to do with an elite workhorse like Miller, but hidden gems are out there, waiting to be discovered.

The first option is obvious -- Jhonas Enroth. As of Sunday night, he was owned in just 34 percent of Yahoo! Fantasy leagues. With a perfect 5-0-0 record, his 1.75 goals-against average and .944 save percentage projected over the course of one or two months as a starter becomes quite valuable to poolies. 

Next would be Drew MacIntyre, Buffalo's recall from the Rochester Americans. The 6-foot-2, 28-year-old from Charlottetown, PEI, has paid his dues for over six years in the AHL, patiently waiting for this chance. He might be inexperienced at the NHL level, but when this kind of situation arises, the more mature goalies entering their prime usually find a way to impress poolies with their poise and consistency.

Another option is Evgeni Nabokov. The Islanders' current three-man rotation has been ineffective, so with trade rumors on the rise now might be the best time to grab him. Nabokov's career GAA in October (2.52) is the second-worst of his season (in March he has a 2.59 GAA). But in November, he has a 2.31 GAA and .917 save percentage. In December, those numbers peak with a 2.11 GAA and .925 save percentage for his NHL career. As of last night, he was only owned in 26-percent of Yahoo! Fantasy leagues.


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 our previous rankings: Tuukka Rask
Other hidden gems that are hardly owned, yet could see their workload rise for a good stretch of time, include Tuukka Rask (35 percent) Devan Dubnyk (26 percent), Al Montoya (24 percent), Michal Neuvirth (23 percent), and Scott Clemmensen (3 percent). Keep these goalies in mind if you're at wits end and have nowhere else to turn.          


Jimmy Howard -- With two shutouts in four straight wins, Howard has dropped his GAA to 1.66 and his save percentage to .934 through 12 games. More even-keeled and economical than ever before, he continues to mature and refine. The Red Wings are rolling on all cylinders right now, but they'll be tested during this upcoming four-game road trip. In his career, however, Howard has actually played just a tad better on the road. Away from Joe Louis Arena, he has a 2.43 GAA and .920 save percentage. At home, he has a 2.48 GAA and .914 save percentage.       

Henrik Lundqvist -- Sparked by the return of Sean Avery, Lundqvist has won all four of his November starts. During the team's current six-game winning streak, they have outscored opponents 22-9, a rare stretch where Lundqvist has received a plethora of goal support. He's expected to start against the Islanders on Tuesday, a team he holds a 21-11-5 record, a 2.23 GAA and a .919 save percentage against lifetime. With only three games in the next 10 days, the extra rest should keep King Henrik fresh and energized heading into the final week of November.

Jhonas Enroth -- Due to Miller's concussion, Enroth's workload is set to skyrocket. Tonight's game in Montreal is a great starting point, as he notched an impressive 3-2 shootout win in Montreal on Feb. 15 last season. That win essentially secured his future as Buffalo's next backup, so he should have tons of confidence when the puck drops. With four games in six days this week, he'll be called upon to continue his stellar play as Buffalo looks to rebound from the embarrassing loss to Boston over the weekend.        


Jonathan Quick -- Ever since a tough 3-2 loss to the Avalanche back on Oct. 30, Quick has been displaying more negative body language than usual. Just 1-3-1 with a 2.78 GAA in his last five games, he's likely to feel the squeeze with a busy schedule over the next week. The Kings play five games: a back-to-back series with Anaheim, then at home against Detroit, then in Dallas and St. Louis. It's also worth noting that Quick's worst month of the season is November, where he has just a .906 save percentage in 25 career games.           

Cam Ward -- Despite standing on his head against the Penguins last Saturday, Ward is just 1-4-0 in his past five games. He has allowed 20 goals in that span, twice giving up five goals. Losses aside, in his past three games, Ward has faced shot totals of 40, 40, and 36 respectively, so he's facing more scoring chances than usual. With five games through next Monday night, his durability will be put to the test. 

Jonas Hiller -- Another workhorse with bloated stats, Hiller is just 1-3-2 with a 3.98 GAA and .894 save percentage in his previous six games. Sunday night against the Wild, he was lifted after allowing three goals on 15 shots, thus compounding his lack of confidence. Furthermore, Hiller is giving up goals in bunches, which makes it tough for his teammates to play with high levels of energy. On top of that, the schedule gets even tougher for the Ducks. They face the Kings on back-to-back nights, then Detroit, Phoenix and Chicago. 


Curtis Sanford -- Lost in the news of Miller's concussion was Columbus goaltender Curtis Sanford being activated off injured reserve. Mark Dekanich is back on the IR with a pulled groin, so Sanford could earn a start sometime this week. The odds to become a legit fantasy value are stacked against him; Steve Mason is coming off a win over the weekend, and there are rumors the Blue Jackets are actively pursuing a goaltender. But that underdog label is what makes "The Sandman" worth watching.

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