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In the Cage: Red Wings' Gustavsson stepping up

by Justin Goldman

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.

Jonas Gustavsson
Goalie - DET
RECORD: 6-0-1
GAA: 2.17 | SVP: 0.927
Still celebrating the holiday with family and friends? Then sit back and feast on our cornucopia of goalie stats before the weekend kicks off with the 2013 NHL Thanksgiving Showdown between the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers (1 p.m. ET, NBC, TSN). More specifically, we take a look at shot-for percentages for a couple of goalies that are seeing a rise in their fantasy value.

Owned in just 12 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues, Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jonas Gustavsson is currently stuffing opponents at a high rate. Not only is he taking advantage of some inconsistent play from Jimmy Howard, but after stealing a few wins, he’s now benefitting from more offensive support.

In Gustavsson’s first four starts of the season, Detroit was outshot in every game. They tallied just 110 shots and allowed 148. In his past three starts, however, Detroit has tallied 109 shots and allowed 66.

With the shot totals now slightly in his favor (244 shots for, 234 against in eight games), Gustavsson is 6-0-1 with a 2.17 goals-against average and .927 save percentage. Facing an average of 29.94 shots per game, he has allowed just 12 goals on 188 even-strength shots, a solid .936 save percentage.


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

Dropped out of previous rankings: Niklas Backstrom (IR), Jean-Sebastien Giguere (25)

Injured: Jonathan Quick (10), Pekka Rinne (10), Evgeni Nabokov (29), Anton Khudobin (NR)

Howard, who is 0-3-4 in his past seven games, will start Friday against the New York Islanders. But coach Mike Babcock has already pegged Gustavsson with the start Sunday against the Ottawa Senators. In six career games against Ottawa, Gustavsson has a .919 save percentage, his second-best mark against any team he has played more than five times in his career, behind only the Buffalo Sabres (.920 save percentage in eight games).

Another indicator of Gustavsson’s rising fantasy value comes with his solid play on the penalty kill. In his first four seasons combined, Gustavsson allowed 69 power-play goals on 437 shots, a .842 save percentage. This season, however, he has stopped 40 of 44 power-play shots, a respectable .909 save percentage. He allowed four power-play goals on just 18 shots last season alone.

Although things didn’t seem to click for Gustavsson when he worked with Francois Allaire, it may have simply been bad timing. Regardless, the legendary goalie coach has left a lasting impact on a couple of fantasy-relevant goaltenders during his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Not only does Ben Scrivens continue to shine for the Los Angeles Kings (see “trending upward” below), but James Reimer is also thriving, despite Toronto being outshot by one of the widest margins in the entire League.

To give you a sense of perspective, consider the fact that the Maple Leafs have been outshot in 21 of their 25 games. But in those 21 games, they have a 12-7-2 record. The 12 wins while being outshot is a League-high, impressive considering they allow a League-worst 36.1 shots per game and average only 26.1 shots-for per game (28th). For Reimer, his .934 save percentage behind a 40.5-percent shot-for total (247 shots for, 363 shots against) is pretty remarkable.

By comparison, Jonathan Bernier has a .931 save percentage in 17 games (8-6-2 record), but a slightly better 42.8 shot-for percentage (401 shots for, 536 against).

But you can’t discuss shot-for percentages without giving Ryan Miller some well-deserved credit. The Buffalo Sabres have been outshot in 23 of 26 games, going 5-17-1 in those instances. Yet somehow, Miller still has a .918 save percentage despite being on the ice for a bone-chilling 39.9 shot-for percentage (470 shots for, 708 against).

With the world of advanced statistics growing, there are more tools at your disposal than ever before to help project a goalie’s future value. Remember that wins is just one of many scoring categories, so looking at shots-for (and goals-for) percentages can provide more insight into how your goalies are performing behind an average or weaker defensive team.

Gustavsson, Reimer and Miller are just three examples of goalies that probably deserve a bit more credit than they’re currently getting.


1. Ben Scrivens, Los Angeles Kings: In eight games since replacing Jonathan Quick, Scrivens is 5-0-4 with a 1.34 GAA, .953 save percentage and two shutouts. He has yet to allow a goal in the first period this season (16 total goals against).

2. Marek Mazanec, Nashville Predators: The 22-year-old rookie has allowed more than two goals in just two of his 10 games this season. Despite a loss Thursday, he still has a 2.01 GAA and .934 save percentage.

3. Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes: Going 2-0-1 in his past three games, Ward is heating up. He has stopped 89 of 96 shots in the process and now has a solid .928 even-strength save percentage (269 of 290).


1. Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils: Frustrated by a lack of playing time, Schneider continues to stagnate behind Martin Brodeur. Despite a 1.87 GAA and .925 save percentage this season, he’s just 1-2-1 in November.

2. Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes: While he is currently facing more rubber than any other goalie in the League (718 shots against in 22 games), Smith has allowed 18 goals and has just one win in his past five games.

3. Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins: Pulled in his most recent start, Fleury is 2-2-1 in his past six games, allowing 10 goals on his past 64 shots. He has a meager .902 save percentage in 11 games this month.


Ilya Bryzgalov, Edmonton Oilers: For a second straight week, we’re stressing the positive impact Bryzgalov could have for the rest of the season. His 33-save shutout Thursday over Nashville was impressive, and he’s currently owned in only 21 percent of Yahoo leagues.

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