We’ve arrived at the last week of the fantasy season. And with most of the leagues either over or about to end, I think you know which fantasy goalies to start this week without me giving my input. So this week, I will give out my goalie awards for the 2009-2010 campaign.
Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres (39-18-8 2.23 GAA, .928 SV%)
This was pretty much a no-brainer, as he was the most consistent goalie all season long. In 66 starts, he only allowed more than three goals seven times. Miller ranks fourth in wins, third in save percentage, and second in goals-against average. He led the Sabres to the Northeast Division title, and oh yeah, didn’t do so bad in the Olympics either.
Honorable mention: Ilya Bryzgalov, Phoenix Coyotes (41-20-5, 2.30 GAA, .920 SV%)
Bryzgalov has had the best season of his career, and ranked at the top of all major goaltending categories. He currently ranks tied for second in wins, seventh in goals against average and tied for seventh in save percentage. Bryzgalov was a main reason that the Coyotes clinched their first trip to the playoffs since 2002.
Steve Mason, Columbus Blue Jackets (20-25-8, 3.10 GAA, .899 SV%)
Talk about your sophomore slump. Mason started the season 4-1, but then struggled early on in the season, and could seem to get anything going. Mason allowed four or more goals 19 times this season, after doing so just 13 times last year. He also allowed six or more goals five times this year, and didn’t allow more than five at all last year. The reigning Calder Trophy winner had a season to forget.
Honorable mention: Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins (16-18-8, 2.55 GAA, .915 SV%)
Like Mason, Thomas was an award winner last year but could not regain his 2009 form. The 2009 Vezina winner was replaced by Tuukka Rask, and although they have split time, Thomas has fallen out of favor with the Bruins. Thomas’ numbers weren’t awful, but he could not seem to win the close games, going just 8-14 in those contests.
Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings (34-15-10, 2.30 GAA, .923 SV%)
Howard started seven games over the past three years for the Wings, and was pretty much only used in emergency situations. This season, he has started 58 games, including 25 straight at one point, winning 34 of them. Howard has been the go-to guy, replacing Chris Osgood in December for good. The Red Wings, who had been on the outside of the playoff picture looking in for most of the season, have surged up the standings, and a large part of that has been the play of Howard.
Honorable mention: Jonathan Quick, LA Kings (39-24-5, 2.51 GAA, .908 SV%)
Talk about durability. The second-year goalie has already played in 69 games this year, helping to get the Kings back into the playoffs for the first time since 2002. He was picked up by many fantasy owners last year, but that was mainly because he became the Kings starting goalie. He played well but not this well. And only 24 years old, he’ll be around for a while.
No name goalie who everyone now knows:
Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins (20-12-5, 1.99 GAA, .930 SV%)
This guy is hands down my rookie of the year, and should even be in the conversation for the Vezina Trophy. He has allowed two or fewer goals in 23 of 37 starts this season, and leads the league in goals-against average and save percentage. Rask has an impressive record, despite the fact that Boston is the lowest scoring team in the league.
Honorable mention: Antti Niemi, Chicago Blackhawks (23-7-3, 2.16 GAA, .915 SV%)
He started two games last year, but wasn’t in the picture, as Cristobal Huet and Nikolai Khabibulin were the mainstays. This year, it was a different story for Niemi. His 2.16 goals-against average ranks second in the league, and he’s played much better than Huet. Niemi also has seven shutouts, and he will probably see more time than Huet in the playoffs. If Chicago is to extend its incredible season into late May, he will have to be on his game.
Craig Anderson, Colorado Avalanche (38-25-6, 2.64 GAA, .917 SV%)
Anderson had a good year with the Florida Panthers last year, which earned him a nice pay day in Colorado. It also turned a team that was last in the Western Conference last year into playoff contenders. After a torrid start to the season, the Avs cooled downed, but still managed to get into the playoffs. Anderson’s numbers rank among the league’s best, so he was one of the best off-season acquisitions at any position.
Honorable mention: Michael Leighton, Philadelphia Flyers (17-9-2, 2.83 GAA, .905 SV%)
With the team reeling and even firing their coach, the Flyers acquired Leighton off of waivers from the Hurricanes. He paid immediate dividends, winning eight of his first nine starts and propelling the Flyers’ climb up the standings. Even though he suffered a season-ending ankle injury a few weeks ago, he was a big reason for the Flyers’ turnaround.
And lastly the award for Best Goalie of All-Time (at least in my mind) goes to No. 30 of the New Jersey Devils, Martin Brodeur. Seriously, what can’t the guy do? He got his 600th NHL win Tuesday night (and 110th shutout) with a 3-0 win over the Thrashers. This season, he has already set goaltending records for minutes played, games played, and shutouts, and he may break two more records before the playoffs end. These are records that may not ever be broken. The next closest active goalie in wins and shutouts is Chris Osgood. In 15 seasons, he has 396 wins and 50 shutouts. He needs just one more playoff shutout to surpass Patrick Roy (both currently tied with 23), and has 698 wins in his career, including the playoffs. Only Roy has more, with 702. Brodeur, in his 16th season and with plenty left in the tank, has 34 or more wins in 13 of his 16 seasons (That almost certainly would have been 14 straight had he not been injured and only started 31 games last season), including eight seasons with 40-plus wins. I could go on and on.
Don’t forget to check out my column next week as I’ll break down all 16 playoff goalies in order, in case any of you are in playoff leagues.
As always, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what’s on your mind.