If you're like me
when setting your NHL lineup on Fanduel, you spend more time on choosing the
right goalie than any other position.
Salary has become less and less of a decision point, as most of the
goalies have converged in the same general price range. It's tough to find a good option under
$7,600. Most starting goalies range from
$7,600 to $8,900, with just three stars in the elite price range: Lundqvist,
Rinne, and Thomas. For the most part,
you have to suck it up and spend some cash on this position, so you're really
left with choosing the man with the best chance of a win (and possibly a shutout). Today, I will throw price consideration out
the window and straight up rank the best goalies as they're trending right
now. Note: it's still critical to check
who's starting and who the goalie is playing against, as those factors can
trump these rankings on any given night, but this gives you a general pecking
order in terms of talent:
1. Henrik Lundqvist (NYR)
By all accounts,
Lundqvist has all but wrapped up the Vezina Trophy for this season, and
rightfully so. He's been in line for
such an honor for several years now, and Thomas has finally stumbled enough to
open the door for Henrik's first major piece of hardware. The Hart Trophy is well within grasp as
well. Wins are coming in a steady stream
right now, with 11 in his last 14 contests.
He's now on pace for 40 wins and 10 shutouts to complement his meager
1.82 GAA and .938 save percentage.
2. Roberto Luongo (VAN)
The situation for
Luongo is always fluid in Vancouver, but right now, the murmurs have quieted
down to PGA putting green levels, as Luongo has elevated his game to a new
level. Over the last 19 games, he's
dropped just 3 in regulation, while putting up a 2.17 GAA and .929 save
percentage. He's still deferring to
Schneider about 1 out of 4 starts, but that seems to be keeping him fresh and
focused when he does play. The Canucks
have climbed back atop the Western Conference standings, and it's largely due
to their #1 in net. He's a solid play on
3. Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT)
Fleury continues to
quietly put up outstanding fantasy numbers for the Pens this season, and would
get more attention were it not for the other two superstars dominating
headlines in the Steel City. His FPPG
and cap hit have steadily climbed over the past couple of months. He now sits 2nd in the NHL in total wins with
34. His career high of 40 wins is well
within range at this point. The Pens and
Fleury are hot right now, having won their last 5. Fleury has a 1.22 GAA over that span.
4. Pekka Rinne (NAS)
Rinne is poised to
break all the franchise goaltending records for Nashville this season, and he
has the team looking to set a record in terms of wins and points. He sits first in the NHL in total wins at 36
(a career best with 17 games yet to go) , which of course, is what matters most
in this game. It's been 8 games since
Rinne has allowed more than 2 goals.
5. Jaroslav Halak (STL)
been an absolute train wreck of a season so far; however, there is one key
factor that makes Halak an attractive option going forward: Ken Hitchcock. Few coaches in the league have such a
legendary history of turning struggling defenses into powerhouses. Just check his history in Dallas, Philly, and
to some extent, Columbus. He tends to
have a great short-term impact on success.
Halak could be primed for a surge."
-- me, 11/7/2011
Ok, enough gloating,
so I got this one right… since his awful 1-6 start to the year, and the coming
of Hitchcock, Halak has steadily turned his game around. He's now a significant force in the fantasy
world. Over his last seven games, he's
gone 6-1 with a 1.40 GAA and .947 save percentage. He's averaged a fine 5.3 FPPG this
season. If you throw out the first month
of the year, he may be tops in the NHL in that category.
6. Mike Smith (PHO)
The past week hasn't
been kind to Smith and the formerly-surging Coyotes, having surrendered losses
to Columbus, Calgary and Pittsburgh; however, I'm not going to be quick to
discount what Smith has accomplished, and can still accomplish, in the Phoenix crease. Prior to those games, he racked up an amazing
11 game win streak. That's 11 wins with
no * for overtime losses, shootouts, etc.
The streak vaulted him up to 5th among all goalies in wins. He's still a fine option for your fantasy
7. Tim Thomas (BOS)
Haters rejoice. Is it the Facebook distraction that's
devaluing Thomas in net? I think
not. I can't say what's causing it, but
you cannot deny that the one undisputed king of fantasy goaltending is no
longer in that conversation. He's lost 4
of his last 7 games, while his GAA has steadily inflated from sub 2.0 in early
January to 2.28 today. That's still a
fine number, but a noticeable step back for the Thomas standard. It doesn't help that Rask has suffered even
more, so the Bruins are slow to give Thomas a break. Expect him to correct course soon, and
perhaps this is the time to finally claim him on your roster, as his salary has
dipped a bit in recent weeks.
8. Kari Lehtonen (DAL)
It's amazing what a
top notch goalie can do when he's healthy for the first time in his adult
life. Finally, the conversation
surrounding the Dallas stopper is about his numbers and not his body parts. He's pieced together a strong stretch of wins
and has seen his GAA dip down below 2.3.
He's still in the lower half of crowd in salary cap, which makes him an
even brighter option for consideration at $8,100.
9. Jonathan Quick (LA)
The Kings are making
a late season push for the playoffs and Quick is leading that effort. He's been solid this past week, going 2-1
with a 1.35 GAA. He's on pace for
another 30 win season and has one of the best goals against averages on the
year with just 1.92. The problem has
been getting goal support from his offense.
With Jeff Carter in the lineup, the Kings have started to give him a
better chance at winning each night.
10. Ryan Miller (BUF)
Back to back
shutouts, followed by a win against Vancouver have chased the Miller bandwagon
crew back out from the dark corners of the NHL world. All of a sudden, it's ok to like Miller
again. I'd be careful in the long run
with this pick, but while the resurgence lasts, by all means, climb aboard.
Honorable / Injured Mention
Both Craig Anderson
(OTT) and Jimmy Howard (DET) deserve consideration, and probably should be on
this list; however, it's not worth rostering a guy who won't be starting. In the meantime, consider turning to their far
less expensive backups until these guys are healthy. For Ottawa, Robin Lehner has fared well in
relief and carries a cap hit of just $5,200.
Joey MacDonald will get the action for Detroit, and he'll run you just
$5,800 these days.
If you're determined
to budget your crease in order to spend wildly up front, here are some
palatable options that have had moderate success in the past couple of weeks:
Corey Crawford (CHI) - $7,500 / Ray Emery - $6,500
Crawford has been
all over the map. Following a brief
surge, he tanked it with 3 straight dismal efforts. Emery then stepped in and ripped off 3
straight wins, allowing just 1 goal in each contest. It's nerve racking relying on Chicago for
your goaltending needs, but you can squeak out some points at a discounted
price if you can stomach it.
Devan Dubnyk (EDM) - $7,000
It's certainly not
the safe play to go with an Edmonton goalie.
But it is one of the few value options on the table. Dubnyk has a solid run in late February,
winning 3 of 4, including a shutout of Philadelphia.
For more on daily
fantasy hockey, check out my articles on the Fanduel Insider at http://www.fanduel.com/insider
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