Welcome back! Now that the season is underway, it’s about time we get back to the fantasy talk. I’m happy to be covering the goalies again for the third straight year.
While some situations remain the same year-in and year-out, there are always those that develop as the season goes along, and my goal is to provide you with some insight on those situations before they develop. Last year, no one knew Antti Niemi, Jimmy Howard or Tuukka Rask. But when most people heard about them, it was too late to pick them up. First, I’ll discuss a few teams tht already have question marks in the early goings, before talking about a few situations to watch in the coming weeks.
A scary moment happened last week when Ondrej Pavelec collapsed in the first period of Friday’s game against Washington. The puck wasn’t even in his zone and no one made contact with him. He left the game on a stretcher and was taken to a hospital. Doctors said that he fainted, which caused him to collapse. Pavelec is much better now, but the Thrashers aren’t rushing him back. Chris Mason will start in the meantime. Mason, who was signed in the offseason, played in 61 games with the Blues last year, so he can handle the workload even if he has to for a significant amount of time. Mason allowed two goals in relief of Pavelec on Friday, and then five in his last game against the Lightning. The Thrashers’ defense has always been susceptible, and I usually shy away from playing any of their goalies because of it, but Mason could be a good play. He tends to have a decent goals-against average and save percentage and will get his share of wins. Even before the Pavelec news, Mason was probably in line to start half of the Thrashers’ games this season.
Pekka Rinne was hurt on Saturday after his teammate and one of the Ducks collided into his net in the third period. It was announcer later as a lower body injury, which does not appear to be serious. Anders Lindback replaced him, saving all seven shots he faced in the third period. The Predators will recall Mark Dekanich from the AHL, although his callup is expected to be a short one. Nashville has three games in four days starting on Wednesday, so Lindback may see some increased action this week.
Los Angeles Kings
Last season, Jonathan Quick started 29 of the Kings’ first 32 games. But he already received a rest in the second game of the season, as Jonathan Bernier played against the Flames and looked impressive, making 29 saves on 31 shots in a 3-1 loss. Bernier was given a contract extension right before the season, and his stock rose immensely in fantasy leagues. He is currently owned in 26% of Yahoo leagues, a high percentage for a player who is only a backup. According to Rotowire, Bernier is expected to start somewhere between 20 and 25 games this season, which would mean Quick would not get the 70-plus starts he got in his breakout season last year. The Kings play seven games in 11 days starting October 20, and you can bet Bernier will start at least two of those (probably the games on the latter end of back-to-back games).
Michael Leighton is now out six to eight weeks after undergoing back surgery. His replacement seemed likely to be Brian Boucher, who did an excellent job getting the team to the Stanley Cup Finals last year when Leighton went down. But the Flyers opted to go with Sergei Bobrovsky on opening night, and Bobrovsky earned his first NHL win making 29 saves in a 3-2 win in Pittsburgh. Boucher played their next game, losing in overtime, but Monday night, Bobrovsky was back in net, and picked up another win in Colorado stopping 25 of 27 shots. Head coach Peter Laviolette tends to roll with the hot hand, so expect Bobrosky to get a few more starts, if it ends up being more than a 50-50 split in Leighton’s absence.
Other Situations to Monitor
Boston Bruins: Rask and Tim Thomas each had one start overseas.
New York Islanders: Rick DiPietro has started 12 games over the last three years. He has already started the first two for the Islanders, so his fantasy owners are already getting their money’s worth.
Ottawa Senators: After neither Pascal Leclaire nor Brian Elliott established himself during the preseason, Leclaire started the first three games (in four nights) losing all three and giving up 10 goals. Elliott may be handed the reigns fairly soon before things get worse in Ottawa.
San Jose Sharks: Niemi started the first overseas game, while Antero Niittymaki started the second one. With a full week off between games, things won’t be settled here until at least the latter part of the month when the Sharks play a ton of games in a short time span.
Questions or comments? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.