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In the Cage: Two so-called backups

by Justin Goldman
Every Monday during the season, Justin Goldman, goalie specialist 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.
To get an edge on the competition, poolies must realize that a goaltender's stats are merely the end result of a unique situation. The position is 90 percent mental, so confidence, rhythm, focus, and opportunity are key ingredients in making what we call a "sleeper" or a "hidden gem" fantasy talent.
For two so-called backups, Devan Dubnyk and Sergei Bobrovsky, a few impressive performances before the All-Star break have led us to believe they're currently surrounded by very promising situations. Furthermore, both goalies could see their fantasy value rise due to the struggles of their counterparts.


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.
**was listed on IR in last week's rankings

Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Semyon Varlamov

Players on IR: None
Dubnyk is the first one on our list, as we feel his odds to steal the starting gig in Edmonton are rising. The aging Nikolai Khabibulin was winless in January, going 0-5-1 with a 3.31 goals-against average, while Dubnyk has increased his workload in each month this season (from four games in October to eight in January). Both goalies were trending in opposite directions last week, and with his confidence on the rise, now might be the time when Dubnyk finally proves that “the future” is ready to take over the crease today.
The first-round draft pick is only owned in 18 percent of Yahoo! Fantasy leagues, and has stopped 115 of 123 shots in his last five games, which equals a very valuable .935 save percentage.
It won't be easy for Bobrovsky to earn starts behind the inconsistent Ilya Bryzgalov, but it has become quite clear that he is currently playing at a higher level. Like a silent assassin, he's going about his job quietly, working hard in practice, and getting big results due to a focused mindset. He's one of the most improved goalies in the NHL this season, and could work his way into more than five games in February.
Bobrovsky only started five games in January, but posted a 3-2-0 record with a 2.19 GAA and .929 save percentage. He won back-to-back road games on Jan. 10 and 12 almost single-handedly, stopping 68 of 71 total shots. Those two games are considered as the best of his career in terms of positioning, so his technique is improving at a terrific pace. As of this morning, he was only owned in 30 percent of Yahoo! Fantasy leagues.
1. Pekka Rinne: No goalie is hotter right now than Rinne. A winner of nine straight games and 10 out of his last 11, this month-long stretch has his fantasy value reaching new heights. In his last five wins, Rinne has allowed just five goals on 148 total shots (.966 save percentage), which also included a juicy 38-save shutout.  
2. Carey Price: Entering the All-Star Game with big wins over Toronto and Detroit, Price was a real treat to watch all weekend long. His “Tebow” move and backwards save attempt in the Skills Competition showed us that he's truly relaxed right now and enjoying the ride. It won't be easy to turn Montreal's season around, but the more relaxed he plays, the more confident his teammates will be in February.  
3. Mathieu Garon: With three straight wins and a more confident team in front, Garon has some momentum on his side. The positive influence of red-hot Steven Stamkos and the potential return of prized defenseman Victor Hedman could also further boost Garon's fantasy value, so keep an eye on those developing situations on Tuesday. During this current three-game winning streak, Garon has stopped 75 of 81 shots, good for a .926 save percentage.   
1. Corey Crawford: More like a maelstrom and less like a wave, Crawford's value is once again being drained due to the dreaded sophomore slump. He is currently a loser of two straight games, and went just 3-4-1 with a 3.11 GAA and .892 save percentage in January. It almost seems like the more he plays, the more other teams are learning about his tendencies. A strong work ethic got him through the first rough stretch, so let's see if he uses rest during the All-Star break as a weapon to fight back with this week.    
2. Ondrej Pavelec: No goalie deserves a weekend of rest more than Pavelec, as hefty travel coming in and out of Winnipeg must take its toll on the body. Only he knows if that played a role in going 2-5-1 with a 2.89 GAA and .902 save percentage so far in January, but the fact remains that his fantasy value is suffering right now. It's not deserved, either, because he's almost always giving the Jets a chance to win games.        
3. Johan Hedberg: With Martin Brodeur allowing just nine goals in his last five games (2-2-1), Hedberg's value has dropped due to a lack of playing time. His last appearance was back on Jan. 11 when he stopped 22 shots in a 2-1 win in Edmonton. Brodeur is also sure to benefit from a week's worth of rest, so expect him to start tomorrow, which probably keeps Hedberg on the bench until Saturday or Sunday.
With Antero Niittymaki waived last week, and then unceremoniously wedged into a busy Worcester (AHL) crease, we're reminded that the NHL trade deadline is just four weeks away. A number of goalies are likely to be moved, while a number of top-flight prospects are set to become free agents. If no sleepers reveal themselves over the next few weeks, we'll provide you with some details on who may or may not be moved, and how it could impact their fantasy value heading into March.
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