In The Crease returns to its roots as the column will provide you with everything you need to know about goaltending and who to start in the upcoming week. I'll focus on Great Options, Good Options and Goalies to avoid.
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Jake Allen- St. Louis Blues
Schedule: Tue @ NJ, Thu @ NYR, Sat vs. CHI, Mon vs. WPG
At the beginning of the season, the Blues opted to Brian Elliott more starts than they were giving Allen.
Allen started off by losing two of his firth three games, but now that he’s hot, the Blues haven’t given him a night off since October 24th. Since then, Allen has started six games and picked up victories in five of them.
The Blues play four games this week and although it would seem likely that Allen would get at least one night off, that’s not necessarily the case if he keeps winning.
The 25-year-old has allowed just six goals in his last six contests.
He’s picked impressive wins over Nashville, Chicago, Minnesota, Anaheim and Tampa Bay.
Start him with confidence this week.
Braden Holtby-Washington Capitals
Schedule: Tue @ DET, Thu @ PHI, Fri vs. CGY
Coming into this week, Braden Holtby leads all goaltender in wins with eight. The Capitals netminder has been a strong fantasy play just as many expected him to be.
The Capitals have three winnable games this week including a quick two-game road trip that will take them to Detroit and Philadelphia.
I am concerned that Holtby will only get two of the three starts because they play in back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday night.
Even if he does sit one out, he will still be a solid fantasy start this week. He has a 4-1-0 record in his career against the Red Wings and as of Tuesday morning, the Flyers had just one win in their last seven games.
The 26-year-old has an 8-3-0 record with a 2.10 goals-against-average and a .916 save percentage in 2015-16.
Henrik Lundqvist-New York Rangers
Schedule: Tue vs. CAR, Thu vs. STL, Sat @ OTT, Sun vs. TOR
The Rangers are one of the rare teams who will play four games between today and next Monday.
Antti Raanta got the start in Saturday’s game against the Coyotes so expect Lundqvist to be well-rested for Tuesday’s tilt against Carolina.
On Thursday, the Blue Shirts will have a tough opponent in St. Louis, but a couple of nice matchups against the Senators and Maple Leafs (which Lundqvist and Raanta will probably split) give King Henrik plenty of value.
The 33-year-old doesn’t have a regulation loss in his last six starts and he’s given up two goals or less in seven straight contests.
He has a 7-2-2 record with a 1.80 goals-against-average and a .945 save percentage. There’s a good chance that Lundqvist will be the best goaltending option in fantasy this week.
Jonathan Quick- Los Angeles Kings
Schedule: Tue vs. ARZ, Thu vs. NYI, Sat vs. EDM
It should be another nice week to have Quick on your fantasy team. Not only does he have three plus matchups this week, but all three contests will be played on home ice.
The ‘Yotes come into LA after playing an overtime game in Anaheim on Monday. The Islanders have struggled to find the back of the net and we all know how difficult it can be for Eastern Conference teams to find their legs on the West Coast. His last game of the week will come against Edmonton and Quick loves facing the Oilers (15-1-5 career record against them).
Quick does have two losses in his last three games, but that isn’t a concern for me, as he stopped 18 of 19 shots in a win over Florida in his last start.
The 29-year-old has a 7-5-0 record with a 2.24 goals-against-average and a .917 save percentage this season.
Cory Schneider-New Jersey Devils
Schedule: Tue vs. STL, Thu @ CHI, Sat vs. PIT
The Devils rarely use their backup goaltender and since they gave Keith Kinkaid a start on Sunday, it’s safe to assume that Schneider should be between the pipes for all three starts this week.
He has three tough matchups against St. Louis, Chicago and Pittsburgh, but Schneider and the Devils have surprised many people this season.
The 29-year-old has a 7-3-1 record with a 2.15 goals-against-average and a .923 save percentage in 2015-16. Those seven wins have all come in his last nine starts. He’s on quite a hot streak.
Petr Mrazek-Detroit Red Wings
Schedule: Tue vs. WSH, Fri vs. SJ, Sat @ BOS, Mon @ OTT
It’s been hard to trust either of Detroit’s goaltenders this season. Both Mrazek and Jimmy Howard have pretty much split starts this season (they’ve started seven games each).
Howard was forced to leave Sunday’s game against Dallas after taking Jason Spezza’s knee to the head. He returned to practice on yesterday, but Detroit may want to be cautious with him in the next little while.
It might be a little risky, but with four games this week, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Mrazek get three starts against Washington, San Jose and Ottawa.
The 23-year-old has won two straight games and three of his last four.
Mrazek has a 4-3-0 record to go along with a 2.36 goals-against-average and a .929 save percentage.
Cam Ward-Carolina Hurricanes
Schedule: Tue @ NYR, Thu vs. MIN, Sat vs. PHI, Mon vs. ANA
Cam Ward has yet to be in my “good options” this season, but there’s a first for everything.
Ward and the ‘Canes have some tough matchups this week. They will travel to New York to take on the Rangers tonight, but then they host three home games against Minnesota, Philadelphia and Anaheim.
The 31-year-old won’t get all four starts, as the Hurricanes will want to give Eddie Lack some work.
It’s not the best schedule, but the heavy workload makes him appealing in fantasy this week.
Ward has a 5-5-0 record with a 2.40 goals-against-average and a .907 save percentage in 11 games this season.
He has three wins in his last four decisions.
Mike Condon-Montreal Canadiens
Schedule: Wed @ PIT, Sat vs. COL, Mon vs. VAN
In last week’s edition of ‘In the Crease’, I told you to keep an eye on Mike Condon. With Carey Price being held out for the entire week, Condon did exceptionally well and was named the NHL’s third star of the week on Monday.
The latest news on Price is that he left Montreal to get a second opinion on his injury. It sure doesn’t sound like he’ll be back in the Canadiens’ crease this week and that should give Condon another three starts.
The 25-year-old rookie has a 6-0-1 record with a stellar 1.57 goals-against-average and a .940 save percentage this season. He will face a high-powered offense in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, but home games against Colorado and Vancouver are very winnable.
Avoid these Netminders
Cam Talbot-Edmonton Oilers
Schedule: Wed @ ANA, Thu @ ARZ, Sat @ LAK
Talbot is quickly finding out that being the starting goaltender for the New York Rangers and being the starting goaltender for the Edmonton Oilers are two very different things.
The 28-year-old is coming off a 4-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday and the Oilers have three more road games to close out the week.
Talbot has just one win in his last five starts and he’s given up at least three goals in each of those five games.
He has a 3-7-0 record with a 3.00 goals-against-average and a .893 save percentage this season.
With back-to-back games against Anaheim and Arizona on Wednesday and Thursday, don’t be surprised if the Oilers give Anders Nilsson a start as well.
Schedule: Tue @ MIN, Thu @ DAL, Sat @ NSH, Mon @ STL
Not only do the Jets have a tough four-game road trip this week, but they’re a fantasy nightmare when it comes to goaltenders.
The Jets use both Pavelec and Hutchinson regularly so it’s difficult for one of them to establish himself as a quality fantasy option.
Hutchinson has a 4-1-1 record with a 2.38 goals-against-average and a .927 save percentage while Pavelec has a 4-4-1 record with a 2.41 goals-against-average and a .918 save percentage.
Both goaltenders have posted some decent numbers, but the strength of this week’s schedule and the fact that the team refuses to give one guy the reigns to the starting job make this a situation to avoid.
Marc-Andre Fleury-Pittsburgh Penguins
Schedule: Wed vs. MTL, Fri vs. CBJ, Sat @ NJ
Fleury has been one of the best goalies in the league this season, so it may be shocking for some to see him in this part of the column.
The Penguins are coming back home from a tough Western Canadian road trip. Typically, the first game after a long road trip is difficult and the Penguins will have the unenviable task of stopping the best team in the league on Wednesday night.
After traveling so many miles last week, Pittsburgh will probably start Jeff Zatkoff in one of their two back-to-back games against Columbus or New Jersey.
As I mentioned before, Fleury has been very good this year. The Penguins wouldn’t be where they are if it wasn’t for him, but the fact that he’ll likely see just two starts with one of them coming against the Canadiens has me concerned.
Chad Johnson-Buffalo Sabres
Schedule: Tue @ TB, Thu @ FLA, Sat vs. SJ
Johnson will get the start in Tuesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but his career numbers against the Bolts aren’t pretty. He has a 0-3-0 record to go along with an underwhelming 3.06 goals-against-average and .879 save percentage against them.
That’s not the only problem with Johnson. The Sabres seem intent on giving rookie Linus Ullmark the majority of the starts. Buffalo is still in the middle of a rebuild, and they prefer to roll with their 22-year-old goaltender over Johnson.
This will be Johnson’s first start he allowed four goals to the Penguins on October 29th.
As for Ullmark, he may have a nice career in front of him, but he will have his share of ups and downs this season. It might be better to stay away from Buffalo’s crease for the time being.