In the Crease is back for the 2016-17 season. This column will provide you with everything you need to know about goaltending and who to start and sit in the upcoming week. I’ll give you some Great options, Good options and Goalies to avoid every week.
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Week of October 24-30
Carey Price-Montreal Canadiens
Schedule: Mon vs. PHI, Wed @ NYI, Thu vs. TB, Sat vs. TOR, Sun vs. WSH
Price made his return to the Canadiens lineup on Thursday night, after missing almost 11 months because of a knee injury. He had a solid debut against Arizona in his season debut and I expect him to be even better as the season goes on. Montreal won’t have an easy schedule this week, but there’s certainly some value in it because they’re playing four games between Monday and Saturday. Expect Price to play three of the four games. He’ll likely be rested in either Wednesday’s game against the Islanders or Thursday’s game against Tampa. If he stays healthy, he’ll be an elite fantasy goalie.
Martin Jones-San Jose Sharks
Schedule: Tue vs. ANA, Thu vs. CBJ, Sat vs. NSH
Jones got off to a great start in his first two outings of the season, but he’s dropped back-to-back starts to the Rangers and Penguins. He gave up eight goals combined in those consecutive losses. Despite the recent struggles, he has a favorable schedule this week, as he’ll take on the Ducks, Jackets and Preds at the Sharks tank this week. He has a 2.79 goals-against-average and a .887 save percentage. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him in goal for all three games.
Jake Allen-St. Louis Blues
Schedule: Tue vs. CGY, Thu vs. DET, Sat vs. LAK
Allen has started four of the Blues’ five games this season. After winning his first two contests, he’s dropped back-to-back starts to Vancouver (OT) and Edmonton, but he hasn’t given up more than two goals in any of his starts this year. The Blues have two plus matchups at home against Calgary and Los Angeles, which make him a Great option this week. He has a 1.99 goals-against-average and a .909 save percentage this season. I expect him to continue being solid this week.
Corey Crawford-Chicago Blackhawks
Schedule: Mon vs. CGY, Fri @ NJD, Sun vs. LAK
Crawford hasn’t exactly lit it up so far, but I think this is the week he’ll turn it around. The ‘Hawks goaltender has given up at least three goals in each of his three starts this season. Crawford came away with his first win of the season on Tuesday night against the Flyers, but he still gave up four goals on 27 shots in the win. This week, Chicago has three games with two of them coming at the United Center. The home dates against Calgary and Los Angeles are plus matchups. With at least one day between each game, I’m hoping Crawford will start all three games, but he’ll likely be rested in one of those contests.
Braden Holtby-Washington Capitals
Schedule: Wed @ EDM, Sat @ VAN, Sun @ CGY
The expectations were high for Holtby coming into the season and he hasn’t disappointed so far. In three starts, the Caps goalie has a 2-0-1 record with a 1.63 goals-against-average and a .938 save percentage. Holtby’s a fantastic option in all leagues, but the fact that he’ll likely get just two games this week makes him a “Good” not “Great” option.
Jacob Markstrom-Vancouver Canucks
Schedule: Tue vs. OTT, Fri vs. EDM, Sat vs. WSH
Coming into this season, I didn’t think I’d put Markstrom in the “Good” category, but here he is. The 26-year-old is off to a 3-0-0 start with a 1.65 goals-against-average and a .932 save percentage in 2016-17. Markstrom has played more because Ryan Miller’s missed time, but he’s played well enough to keep the starting role even when Miller returns. Look for Markstrom to get two starts this week. He’ll likely get either Friday or Saturday off.
Henrik Lundqvist-New York Rangers
Schedule: Wed vs. BOS, Fri @ CAR, Sun vs. TB
Lundqvist’s numbers haven’t been pretty this season, but it’s still enough to consider this a minor blip on the radar. The Rangers have had some injuries to deal with on defense and that certainly hasn’t helped. Two home dates and at least one day off between each of their three games make Lundqvist an intriguing fantasy option this week. He currently owns a mediocre 2.71 goals-against-average and .875 save percentage. Fantasy owners shouldn’t abandon ship. He’ll be fine.
Kari Lehtonen-Dallas Stars
Schedule: Tue vs. WPG, Thu @ WPG, Sat @ MIN
I admit that this one is a little risky. The Stars have shown that they rotate their goalies frequently, but Lehtonen will make his third consecutive start on Saturday night. If he can play well against a bad Columbus team that played last night, he should get the start against Winnipeg on Tuesday. What happens after that is anyone’s guess. I don’t recommend Lehtonen all season, but he could pay dividends this week.
Avoid these Netminders
Louis Domingue-Arizona Coyotes
Schedule: Tue @ NJD, Thu @ PHI, Sat vs. COL
Domingue will take over as Arizona’s starting goaltender now that Mike Smith is out with a lower-body injury. Things haven’t really gone well for Domingue so far. He was pulled in Thursday’s game against the Canadiens and he dropped a 3-2 decision to the Isles on Friday. The Coyotes will continue their road trip in New Jersey and Philadelphia this week before returning home to face Colorado on Saturday. He has an 0-3-0 record with an 6.24 goals-against-average and an .836 save percentage. Stay away if you can.
Brian Elliott-Calgary Flames
Schedule: Mon @ CHI, Tue @ STL, Fri vs. OTT
The Flames addressed their goaltending situation this off-season by acquiring Elliott from the Blues, but it hasn’t panned out so far. Elliott has dressed in three of Calgary’s five games this season and he’s lost each one. He’s given up six, four and four goals in each of those starts. The 31-year-old has a 4.72 goals-against-average and a .839 save percentage. The Flames have a full schedule this week, but the challenges won’t be easy, as they’ll play road games in Chicago and St. Louis before playing home dates against Ottawa and Washington.
Schedule: Tue vs. CBJ, Thu vs. NSH, Sat @ STL, Sun @ CHI
The Kings goaltending situation has been a disaster since Jonathan Quick went down last week and I don’t expect it to get a whole lot better. Budaj looked solid in his first start of the season, but don’t expect that success to last. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Kings went out and acquired a goalie to fill in until Quick returns in three months. There are plenty of better fantasy options than these two.
Cam Ward-Carolina Hurricanes
Schedule: Tue @ DET, Fri vs. NYR, Sun vs. PHI
Ward has seen his play dip over the last few years and nothing's changed this season. He's 0-1-1 in his first two starts. He's allowed three and five goals in those two outings. After tonight's action, Eddie Lack will have more starts (3) than Ward (2). Lack won't be a much better fantasy option, but he still has slightly more value than Ward. The 'Canes probably won't be going to playoffs this year, which means they won't win a ton of games. It's best to avoid this goalie tandem in standard leagues.