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 @ WPG, Thu vs. NSH, Sat vs. CGY, Mon @ PHI
Allen is my top play of the week for a number reasons.
First, the Blues play four games over the next seven days, but there’s at least one day off between each game. That means that Allen could get the start in each one. I don’t think a four-game week is likely for any goaltender, but the possibility is still there.
The 25-year-old played in back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday. He looked very good in a shut out of the Dallas Stars and he looked okay in a loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
Second, Allen has been extremely good this season. He has a 13-7-2 record with a 2.06 goals-against-average and a .926 save percentage.
Braden Holtby-Washington Capitals
Schedule: Wed vs. OTT, Fri vs. TB, Sun @ NYR, Mon @ CAR
I know Holtby being in the “Great Options” is getting predictable, but I can’t ignore what he’s been done for the Capitals.
The Capitals starter looked sharp in Monday’s game in Pittsburgh and I have no doubt he’ll continue to be one of the top performers this week.
Holtby will likely see three starts this week (if I had to guess I’d say he plays against Ottawa, Tampa Bay and New York).
Here’s all you need to know about him: The 26-year-old hasn’t lost a game in regulation since Nov. 10 (11-0-1).
There’s a reason they call him “Holtbeast”
Marc-Andre Fleury-Pittsburgh Penguins
Schedule: Wed @ BOS, Fri vs. BOS, Sat vs. CAR, Mon vs. CBJ
Fleury should get three starts over the next seven days.
The Penguins starter will get a tough home-and-home series with the Bruins. Pittsburgh will likely give Jeff Zatkoff the start against Carolina, but expect Fleury back in for Monday’s matchup against Columbus.
Fleury has a 12-6-4 record in his career against Boston and a 7-4-2 record against the Jackets.
The Penguins might have issues right now, but it’s hard to ignore Fleury’s workload this week.
Semyon Varlamov-Colorado Avalanche
Schedule: Tue @ CHI, Thu vs. NYI, Sat vs. EDM, Mon vs. TOR
This one might raise some eyebrows, but it’s hard to ignore what Varlamov’s done since his return from a groin injury in late-November.
He was the main reason why Colorado was able to beat St. Louis on Sunday night. The Blues fired 43 pucks in the game and Varlamov stopped all but one of them.
He’ll have a tough matchup in Chicago on Tuesday, but he will face the Islanders, Oilers and Maple Leafs on home ice after that.
Colorado struggles to win consistently so the decision to put Varlamov in the “Great” category is a little risky, but if Sunday’s performance is any indication, he and his team will be fine.
The 27-year-old has won three consecutive starts and he’s 6-2-0 since returning to the lineup on Nov. 23.
Pekka Rinne-Nashville Predators
Schedule: Tue vs. CGY, Thu @ STL, Sat vs. MIN, Mon vs. MTL
Rinne’s numbers haven’t been pretty of late. After a solid start to the season, the 33-year-old (and his team) have struggled mightily over the last little while.
He has just one win in his last five starts (1-3-1) and he’s given up three goals or more in three of those five games.
So you’re probably asking yourself why he’s in the “good” option.
I believe Rinne’s still one of the more talented goalies in the NHL and I think this week’s schedule will help him get his season on tack.
He’ll have a tough matchup in St. Louis on Thursday, but he’ll also get the Flames, Wild and Canadiens on home ice.
Even though the Predators don’t have any back-to-back games this week, I still expect to see Carter Hutton in one game.
Rinne has a 12-8-5 record with a 2.43 goals-against-average and a.907 save percentage this season.
I think his fantasy owners’ patience will finally pay off this week.
Jonathan Quick-Los Angeles Kings
Schedule: Thu @ MTL, Sat @ TOR
The only reason Quick is in the “good” section is because the Kings only have two games between Tuesday-Monday.
The 29-year-old has been one of the hottest goalies in the NHL. He’s won six of his last seven games and he’s allowed more than two goals just twice in his last nine games.
With the Canadiens struggling of late and Toronto being Toronto, it’s not out of the question for Quick to come away with two wins this week, but his margin for error is almost non-existent.
Quick has a 16-8-1 record with a 2.28 goals-against-average and a .915 save percentage in 25 games this season.
Henrik Lundqvist-New York Rangers
Schedule: Tue vs. EDM, Thu @ MIN, Fri @ WPG, Sun vs. WSH
Lundqvist’s week starts with a nice matchup against an Oilers team that played in Boston on Monday night. The 33-year-old was pulled in last week’s game in Edmonton, but got the night off the next night in Calgary. He should be fresh and ready to roll ahead of Tuesday’s game.
King Henrik will likely play in Thursday’s game against Minnesota and in a tough matchup against Washington on Sunday, but he does have a 19-8-3 record against the Capitals in his career.
Lundqvist has a 14-6-3 record with a 2.14 goals-against-average and a .933 save percentage this season
Connor Hellebuyck-Winnipeg Jets
Schedule: Tue vs. STL, Fri vs. NYR, Mon @ EDM
Hellebuyck has been fantastic since being recalled from the minors earlier this season.
The rookie is 4-1-0 in five games this season and he’s given up more than two goals just once in those five games.
He’ll have a tough schedule this week, but he’s proving that he can take care of himself against good teams, as he’s defeated Minnesota and Washington.
He enters the week with a 1.79 goals-against-average and a .938 save percentage.
Avoid these Netminders
Schedule: Tue vs. SJ, Thu vs. LAK, Sat @ DAL, Mon @ NSH
Tokarski has played well in Montreal’s last two games against Detroit and Ottawa and he’ll make a third straight start against San Jose on Tuesday.
The problem here is that the Canadiens will likely go with a hot-hand approach until Carey Price returns.
Condon and Tokarski are still young and unproven for the most part, and predicting how well each one will play from game to game will be difficult.
Both goaltenders are capable of playing well, but we’ve also seen both struggle badly at times.
The Canadiens will have four tough Western Conference opponents this week.
Craig Anderson-Ottawa Senators
Schedule: Wed @ WSH, Fri vs. SJ, Sun @ TB
I’ll start this post by saying that I really like Anderson. I think he’s an underrated goalie who is often overlooked because he’s a late bloomer, but this is a weekly column.
There are two things going against Anderson this week.
Ottawa picked up a big win over Los Angeles on Monday night, but they have a trip to Washington coming up on Wednesday and they’ll face the Sharks and division rival Tampa Bay.
With Andrew Hammond ready to return from injury, you’d have to think that Ottawa will give the Hamburgler at least one start in their upcoming games. That leaves Anderson with two starts.
No matter who he faces, Anderson will be in tough this week.
Darcy Kuemper-Minnesota Wild
Schedule: Tue vs. VAN, Thu vs. NYR, Sat @ NSH, Mon vs. DAL
Kuemper’s been in goal for each of Minnesota’s last four games because Devan Dubnyk’s been out with a groin injury.
The Wild’s backup went 2-0-2 in those four starts and never allowed more than two goals during that span.
Kuemper will be between the pipes for Tuesday’s game against Vancouver, but Dubnyk will be dressed as his backup.
That means that Dubnyk is close to making a return and since he’s the one making the big bucks, it means that Kuemper will see a lot less action going forward.
Pick up Kuemper if Dubnyk gets injured again, but until then he’ll have no fantasy value.
Schedule: Thu vs. CBJ, Sat vs. NYI
Smith has been on the shelf since Dec. 8 because of a lower-body injury, but he’s eligible to come off injured reserve for Thursday’s game.
The Coyotes may not want to give their starter too many reps too soon so they’ll probably split starts between Smith and Lindback.
Smith’s fantasy upside is limited, even when he is healthy.
The 33-year-old dropped four straight starts before being injured and he’s allowed 14 goals combined in those games.
Avoid Arizona’s crease like the plague.