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In the Cage: Injury replacements thriving in fantasy

by Justin Goldman

Every Thursday during the season, Justin Goldman, a regional goalie scout for USA Hockey and founder of The Goalie Guild, 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.

After a 5-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night, Los Angeles Kings goaltender Ben Scrivens has now compiled a 4-0-0 record, 1.00 goals-against average, .963 save percentage, and two shutouts since Jonathan Quick suffered his Grade 2 groin strain.

Ben Scrivens
Goalie - LAK
RECORD: 5-1-1
GAA: 1.35 | SVP: 0.949
Scrivens' shutout streak finally ended at 191:19 minutes, nearly eclipsing Quick's franchise-record 202:11 streak. With some simple, yet effective style refinements that include a narrower stance and a more traditional glove hand positioning, Scrivens' impressive play has also revealed a key fantasy trend through the first quarter of the season: The injury replacements are thriving.

Prior to Scrivens' streak, Anaheim Ducks rookie Frederik Andersen stood tall during Viktor Fasth's injury, going 6-1-0 in seven games with a 1.66 GAA and .943 save percentage. Carolina Hurricanes goalie Justin Peters went just 4-6-1 in his 11-game replacement stint during Cam Ward's injury, but still posted a very respectable 2.35 GAA and .921 save percentage.

Going 3-1-2 in his past six decisions, Ottawa Senators goalie Robin Lehner was on fire while Craig Anderson was out with a neck injury earlier this month. Despite the fact Ottawa allowed the first goal in 14 straight games before Wednesday night's loss to the Minnesota Wild, Lehner still has a 2.34 GAA and .938 save percentage this month. Owned in just 21 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues, he's a solid buy-low fantasy asset.


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 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.
  • 1. Tuukka Rask, Bruins (same)
  • 2. Antti Niemi, Sharks (same)
  • 3. Carey Price, Canadiens (+1)
  • 4. Mike Smith, Coyotes (+1)
  • 5. Marc-Andre Fleury, Penguins (+1)
  • 6. Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers (+1)
  • 7. Corey Crawford, Blackhawks (-4)
  • 8. Roberto Luongo, Canucks (same)
  • 9. Steve Mason, Flyers (+1)
  • 10. Kari Lehtonen, Stars (+3)
  • 11. Jaroslav Halak, Blues (-2)
  • 12. Ben Bishop, Lightning (-1)
  • 13. Semyon Varlamov, Avalanche (+1)
  • 14. Josh Harding, Wild (+1)
  • 15. Jimmy Howard, Red Wings (-3)
  • 16. Braden Holtby, Capitals (same)
  • 17. Jonas Hiller, Ducks (same)
  • 18. Jonathan Bernier, Maple Leafs (+2)
  • 19. Sergei Bobrovsky, Blue Jackets (-1)
  • 20. Ryan Miller, Sabres (-1)
  • 21. James Reimer, Maple Leafs (same)
  • 22. Ondrej Pavelec, Jets (same)
  • 23. Martin Brodeur, Devils (+3)
  • 24. Craig Anderson, Senators (-1)
  • 25. J-S Giguere, Avalanche (-1)
  • 26. Cory Schneider, Devils (+2)
  • 27. Robin Lehner, Senators (same)
  • 28. Ben Scrivens, Kings (NR)
  • 29. Tim Thomas, Panthers (NR)
  • 30. Cam Ward, Hurricanes (NR)*

* Appeared on injured list last week

Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Ray Emery, Frederik Andersen

Injured: Jonathan Quick, Pekka Rinne, Niklas Backstrom, Evgeni Nabokov, Anton Khudobin

Maybe the most intriguing fantasy asset on our list of replacements is Marek Mazanec. After posting a somewhat routine 27-save shutout over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night, he appears to have usurped Carter Hutton's starting role for the foreseeable future. The 22-year-old is now 2-2-0 with a 2.45 GAA and .927 save percentage, stopping 139 of 150 total shots. He is owned in just four percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues.

Kevin Poulin was our goalie to watch last Thursday, but has now allowed 16 goals in his past five games. With a feeble 3-6-0 record and .898 save percentage, unless you are desperate for starts, we suggest you avoid acquiring him.

Another replacement you'll want to avoid is Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper. Since making his NHL debut last season, Kuemper has struggled in the first 10-15 minutes of his appearances. Most recently, he gave up three goals on nine shots in a loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, and in his season debut on Oct. 15, he gave up two goals on his first three shots in a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Lastly, we suggest you keep a close eye on Chicago Blackhawks goalie Antti Raanta during Nikolai Khabibulin's absence. Not only does Chicago's League-high 3.46 goals per game potentially offer him great goal support, but Corey Crawford's current struggles combined with a seven-game road trip that ends with back-to-back games may open the door for him to earn few starts over the next week. He stopped 14 of 16 shots in his NHL debut against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night and looked quite poised in the process.

With Raanta's debut, 11 teams have now needed to use a third goalie this season. It's impossible to know which team will dip into their reserves next, but if the first quarter of the season is any indication, you can expect some good goaltending from this growing list of future stars.


1. Kari Lehtonen, Dallas Stars: Facing an average of 30.4 shots per game this season, Lehtonen continues to be the backbone of the Stars. He's 4-1-0 in his past five games with a .927 save percentage and is now 8-1-0 on the road with one shutout and a .936 save percentage.

2. Jonathan Bernier, Toronto Maple Leafs: Bernier has eight wins, a 2.05 GAA and a .939 save percentage in 14 games. His past three games have been solid (1-1-1 with 92 saves on 97 shots), but his .918 save percentage in five losses (157 saves on 171 shots) really stands out in the first quarter of the season.

3. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens: With 126 saves on 132 shots in his past four games (.955 save percentage), Price's fantasy value continues to rise into the elite status. He sits comfortably in the top 10 for every major category, including third for shots and saves, and fifth for minutes played (1,083).


1. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings: In any other season, a five-game homestand would usually spell fantasy gold. This time, however, it has been a disaster. Howard is 0-1-4 in his past five games, allowing 14 goals on 141 shots, which is just a .901 save percentage.

2. Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks: Even though Crawford is 4-2-0 in his past six games, he has been leaky. Allowing 17 goals in his past five appearances, Crawford has the most wins in the League (13) but sits 30th overall in save percentage.

3. Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators: Since returning from his neck injury, Anderson has frustrated fantasy owners. He has just one win in his past four games, allowing 15 goals on 110 shots. He now has just five wins, a 3.31 GAA and .900 save percentage in 15 appearances this season.


Ilya Bryzgalov and Devan Dubnyk, Edmonton Oilers: He's baaack! Bryzgalov was recently recalled by the Edmonton Oilers after a few games in Oklahoma City, while Jason LaBarbera cleared waivers. Dubnyk, meanwhile, may have been sparked by the oncoming battle. He has won two games in a row, stopping 47 of 49 shots.

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