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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Braden Holtby-Washington Capitals
Schedule: Tue vs. NYI, Thu vs. PIT, Sat @ STL, Sun vs. ANA
Holtby has a chance to set an incredible before the end of the regular season. The Caps starter, who has 47 wins in 2015-16, is just one victory away from tying Martin Brodeur’s single-season mark. The Capitals will presumably start Holtby in every one of their remaining games until he surpasses Brodeur. The 26-year-old’s play has dipped a little bit in the last few weeks, but he still has just one regulation loss in his last 10 games. Holtby has a 47-9-5 record with a 2.17 goals-against-average and a .923 save percentage this season. There’s a good chance he’ll play three of Washington’s remaining four games.
Matt Murray-Pittsburgh Penguins
Schedule: Tue @ OTT, Thu @ WSH, Sat @ PHI
With Marc-Andre Fleury on the sidelines, the Pens will turn to Murray until their starter comes back. Fleury is out indefinitely which means we don’t know how long he’ll be out exactly. If Fleury’s out for the remainder of the week, Murray’s fantasy value between now and the end of the season will skyrocket. The Penguins have three road games between now and Saturday, but with the way they’re playing, it’s hard to bet against them at this point. Murray’s looked terrific in his first 10 NHL games. The 21-year-old has a 7-2-1 record with a 1.88 goals-against-average and a .933 save percentage since being called up from the minors. Fleury’s return would impact Murray’s fantasy value in a negative way.
John Gibson-Anaheim Ducks
Schedule: Tue vs. WPG, Thu @ LAK, Sat @ COL, Sun @ WSH
Frederik Andersen’s concussion has allowed Gibson to start the last string of games for the Ducks. Not only has he played more, but he’s also played extremely well. Gibson has three wins in his last four games and he’s given up just five goals during that span. Andersen faced some shots prior to Sunday’s game which means he’s improving, but there’s still no timetable for his return. The Ducks have been one of the best teams in the second half of the season and that’s allowed them to have a shot at the Pacific Division title. Unlike some other playoff times, Anaheim still has something to play for. Gibson has a 20-12-3 record with a 2.04 goals-against-average and a .920 save percentage this season.
Brian Elliott-St. Louis Blues
Schedule: Thu @ CHI, Sat vs. WSH
With Jake Allen done for the season, Elliott will presumably take over as the Blues starting goaltender going forward. He’s been terrific when called upon and he should continue to be a reliable option down the stretch. Elliott gave up two goals in the first period of Monday’s game against Arizona, but he responded by shutting the door the rest of the way. The 30-year-old has won each of his last 10 decisions dating back to Feb. 12. It’s unclear how long Allen will be out for, but if he can’t return in time for the playoffs, Elliott will be the one to lead the Blues’ Stanley Cup charge. The Blues have two tough games remaining against Chicago and Washington. They won’t have the luxury of resting any players because they’re still involved in the chase for Central Division crown.
Jimmy Howard-Detroit Red Wings
Schedule: Wed vs. Phi, Thu @ BOS, Sat @ NYR
After spending most of the season as Detroit’s backup goalie behind Petr Mrazek, Jimmy Howard has elevated his play and has become the go-to guy over the last few games. The Wings even opted to start Howard in a back-to-back situation on Friday and Saturday. Howard delivered with strong performances in both games and Detroit beat both Minnesota and Toronto. The Red Wings still haven’t secured their spot in the postseason and that means that they could continue to lean on Howard heavily down the stretch. Mrazek’s play has dropped so much that it wouldn’t surprise me if head coach Jeff Blashill decides to leave him on the bench for the critical back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday.
Steve Mason-Philadelphia Flyers
Schedule: Wed @ DET, Thu vs. TOR, Sat vs. PIT, Sun @ NYI
Like Murray, Gibson and Elliott, an injury has allowed Mason to establish himself as one of the more solid fantasy options over the last couple of weeks. The 27-year-old has been in goal for 13 of Philadelphia’s last 14 games. He has a solid 9-3-2 record during that span. Mason gave up five goals in Saturday’s loss to Pittsburgh, but one performance doesn’t erase all the other good things Mason has done. With rookie Anthony Stolarz as the option behind Mason, don’t be surprised if Mason keeps starting as long as the games stay meaningful. He has a 22-18-9 record with a 2.53 goals-against-average and a .918 save percentage this season.
Avoid these Netminders
Mike Condon-Montreal Canadiens
Schedule: Tue vs. FLA, Thu @ CAR, Sat vs. TB
One of the most embarrassing seasons in Canadiens history is almost over. Things started off so well for Montreal. They got off to a 9-0-0 start this season and they were in first place in the conference heading into the month of December. From there, the Canadiens just fell apart. Losing Carey Price was devastating, but there’s no excuse for playing below .300 hockey for long stretches. It’s hard to blame Condon for the disaster that was the Canadiens season. Montreal’s goaltending was an issue on a lot of nights, but their lack of offense isn’t all on their goaltenders. Last week, the Canadiens signed goalie Charlie Lindgren to an entry-level deal and they’ve already said that they plan on giving him at least one start between now and the end of the season.
Ryan Miller-Vancouver Canucks
Schedule: Wed @ EDM, Thu @ CGY, Sat vs. EDM
The Canucks won’t have a difficult final week of the season as both of their opponents won’t be in the playoffs, but Vancouver isn’t in better shape than Edmonton or Calgary. The final few weeks of 2015-16 have terrible for Vancouver. The Canucks have dealt with some injuries, but their inability to score goals has been more than evident. I don’t blame Miller or Jacob Markstrom for all of this fiasco either, but no matter how you slice it, there’s no way championship fantasy teams should start one of Vancouver’s goaltenders. With the Canucks playing their second game in two nights on Tuesday night, don’t be surprised if Markstrom is in goal against Edmonton.