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In the Cage: Ray Emery rising

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.
As many poolies know, Chicago's backup goaltender position has carried tremendous hidden value in the past. It first happened with Antti Niemi two seasons ago, and then history repeated itself again last season with Corey Crawford. Now it's starting to happen again, this time with veteran Ray Emery.


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.
*Please note that we are now removing goalies currently on IR from the weekly rankings

Removed: Dwayne Roloson, Lightning (29), Jhonas Enroth, Sabres (30)
Players on IR: Kari Lehtonen, Stars
 In Sunday's 3-2 overtime win against the Sharks, Emery arguably was Chicago's best player. He stopped 16 of 17 shots in the first period alone, and finished with 35 saves on 37 shots. That win also reinforced the notion that he's ready to run with things while Crawford works out some issues with his technique and confidence. Emery is 3-0-1 in December and has stopped 100 of 106 shots (.943 save percentage) in that span.

When it comes to projecting Emery's value over the next few weeks or months, don't forget he lost just two games in nine appearances for Anaheim at the end of last season, helping the Ducks clinch a playoff spot. He now has just one regulation loss in 10 games this season; Emery is 13-3-2 with a 2.79 goals-against average and .916 save percentage since his comeback last season from major hip surgery.

A fierce battler and a more mature athlete than ever before, the Masterton Trophy finalist is focused enough to be Chicago's starter. He also seems to have won the favor of coach Joel Quenneville right now, as he has started three of the last four games. This means Emery likely starts Wednesday in Minnesota, and maybe Friday at home (where he's 4-0-1 this season) against his former team, the Ducks.

Health always will be an inherent risk when owning Emery, but the more pertinent question right now is whether or not he can perform more consistently than Crawford. Well, so far, so good. It will depend on your league settings and current roster, but by most accounts, he's a great low-risk, high-reward candidate; only 11 percent of Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues managers have him on their roster.
Carey Price: A timely save that steals points from opponents often is a catalyst that sparks a hot streak. Price, who was 1-0-2 last week, made one of those saves on a penalty shot attempt by New Jersey's Zach Parise with only 47 seconds left in last Saturday's game. The addition of Tomas Kaberle has helped the team's defense nicely so far, and now Price is on a run where he hasn't lost a game in regulation this month (2-0-3).

Brian Elliott: It's amazing to think that Elliott's .947 save percentage, 1.45 goals-against average and League-leading four shutouts (tied with Jonathan Quick) holds the most value for all goalies in one-year leagues. Furthermore, he's also the best goalie for NHL general managers to own in real life. With a $600,000 price tag, Elliott transformed into the NHL's most effective summer goalie acquisition in just a few short months. He brings a high level of stat security in a Ken Hitchcock system, so even if he splits games with Jaroslav Halak for the rest of the season, Elliott still will be a top-shelf fantasy asset to own in the second half.      

Tomas Vokoun: Terribly inconsistent and way too leaky in November, Vokoun has competed at a higher level so far in December. He's 2-0-1 this month, but has stopped 90 of 97 shots, which is good for a .928 save percentage. With the Capitals winning two straight games and Alex Ovechkin finally starting to play with more energy, Vokoun's value likely will continue to heat up as December rolls along.  
Mike Smith: After going 4-1-0 to finish November, Smith is just 1-4-0 in his first five games in December. Clearly his most significant drop in performance all season, he's giving up goals in bunches and getting caught deep in the crease. He was pulled after allowing four goals on 17 shots in the first period against the Flyers on Dec. 3, and then gave up three goals in the second period of a 4-3 win against Chicago on Dec. 5. He gave up four goals in just 15:29 against Detroit on Dec. 8, and followed that with a 4-1 loss to Minnesota (16 saves on 20 shots) on Dec. 10. Smith is in need of a confidence-boosting win right now.     

Curtis Sanford
Goalie - CBJ
RECORD: 5-4-3
GAA: 2.45 | SVP: 0.909
Curtis Sanford: With 12 straight starts under his belt, Sanford appeared to sleepwalk through the weekend. He's 1-1-1 in his last three games, but has allowed 11 goals. Columbus is sure to give Steve Mason one or two starts this week, as they're set to play four games in six nights. The good news, however, is that Sanford still is making a case for staying with the Blue Jackets all season long.

James Reimer: Since returning from his bout with whiplash, Reimer is 0-2-1 with just 70 saves on 81 shots. His value already had eroded due to the injury, but now he has the pressure of trying to reverse a losing streak. The pressure always is high in Toronto, but once you sour the fans and media by going winless in five or six games, roles begin to change. The Leafs play Tuesday and then have back-to-back games this weekend, so Reimer might only play twice this week, while Jonas Gustavsson likely starts at least once.  
A few weeks ago, we mentioned that Richard Bachman could steal some games from Andrew Raycroft during Kari Lehtonen's absence. Well, Bachman made an impression on Stars coach Glen Gulutzan during Saturday's 2-1 win against the Kings, so he's likely to earn another start, probably Tuesday against the Rangers. If he can slay that foe, expect him to get more exposure with a nice string of starts.
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