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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Pekka Rinne-Nashville Predators
Schedule: Tue @ WPG, Wed @ CGY, Sat @ VAN, Mon @ EDM
Finally, it looks like Rinne is rounding into form after a brutal stretch earlier this season. Even when he wasn’t terrible, the veteran goaltender just didn’t seem to be himself. Fantasy owners who stuck with Rinne and waited out his slump have been rewarded with some great performances and a whole lot of wins lately. The 33-year-old has six wins in his last eight decisions and he hasn’t lost in regulation since Jan. 9 against Washington. Rinne has also allowed two goals or less in six of those eight games. The Predators will be embarking on a tour of Western Canada and if you’ve seen the NHL standings lately, you know that a trip up north isn’t such a bad thing. Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton are all out of the playoffs right now. Rinne should start all but one of Nashville’s games in the next week.
Ben Bishop-Tampa Bay Lightning
Schedule: Tue vs. BOS, Fri vs. PHI, Sun @ CBJ
Bishop was given the night off in Monday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers which means he’s guaranteed to be in goal when the Lightning take on the Boston Bruins on Tuesday. Tampa Bay will be playing their second game in two nights, but the Bruins will be in the same situation. The 29-year-old enters the week with a personal six-game winning streak. He’s allowed two goals or less in all but one of those games. I expect him to be between the pipes for all three of Tampa’s games. Two of the three games will be at Amalie Arena while the last game will be in Columbus on Sunday. Bishop has a 28-17-3 record with a 2.06 goals-against-average and a .926 save percentage in 2015-16. You won’t find many better fantasy options this week.
Marc-Andre Fleury-Pittsburgh Penguins
Schedule: Tue @ NYI, Fri @ CBJ, Sun @ NYR
The Penguins recalled Matt Murray from the minors and the youngster has played well when pressed into duty. That could affect Fleury’s fantasy value going forward. Pittsburgh could be less hesitant to throw their backup a start because they believe he can get the job done. For now though, Fleury will continue to be their go-to guy between the pipes. The 31-year-old has won three of his last four starts. He’s coming off an ugly performance against the Flames on Friday, but before that he had given up just two goals in three games. The Penguins will play three games on the road against the Islanders, Blue Jackets and Rangers this week. He has a 27-15-6 record with a 2.35 goals-against-average and a .921 save percentage in 2015-16. The Penguins are climbing up the standings and their goaltending is a big reason why they were able to do so.
Jake Allen-St. Louis Blues
Schedule: Wed vs. CHI, Fri vs. ANA, Sat @ DAL, Mon @ CGY
When Allen returned from injury a few weeks ago people were wondering who the Blues’ number one goalie would be. Allen served as the backup in his first game back, but he was pressed into duty after Brian Elliott suffered an injury. Elliott will be out for quite a while which means that Allen can establish himself as the clear number one option in St. Louis. After coming off injured reserve, Allen lost his first three starts. Since then, he’s won three in a row. The Blues don’t have an easy schedule by any means, but I expect Allen to get three of four starts. It’s impossible to count the Blues out of any game right now. Allen has a 21-13-3 record with a 2.26 goals-against-average and a .922 save percentage this season.
Roberto Luongo-Florida Panthers
Schedule: Thu vs. OTT, Sat vs. PHI, Mon @ NYI
The Panthers returned to Florida to play Boston after a tough road trip that saw them go 1-2-1. The last loss to Arizona was particularly ugly, as backup goalie Al Montoya was shelled for five goals. Luongo wasn’t much better on Monday, as he was pulled against the Bruins. With two full days between the Boston game and their next tilt against Ottawa, the Panthers will be able to recharge their batteries. They’ve slowed down from their torrid pace earlier this season and are no longer the top dogs in the Atlantic division. It’s normal for a young team to fade during the dog days of the season, but they’ll hope to get back on the right track before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In order to find their way again, they’ll need big performances from their starting goaltender. Luongo has just one win in his last four outings, but that could change with two home dates against non-playoff teams on the schedule this week.
Tuukka Rask-Boston Bruins
Schedule: Tue @ TB, Thu vs. CAR, Sat vs. NYI
Rask played in Monday’s game against the Panthers so it wouldn’t be shocking to see Jonas Gustavsson get the start in Tuesday’s game against the Bolts. Rask will enjoy a few days off between games and the fact that he has a matchup with the Hurricanes waiting for him on Thursday makes him an intriguing fantasy option. After a clash with Carolina, Boston hosts the Islanders on Saturday. That one won’t be an easy matchup, but the Bruins can certainly get the job done. The fact that he’ll likely get just two starts this week make him a good (not great) option between the pipes. The 27-year-old has a 6-1-1 record in his last eight contests. Rask enters the week with a 27-18-6 record to go along with a 2.53 goals-against-average and a .919 save percentage.
Avoid these Netminders
Braden Holtby-Washington Capitals
Schedule: Wed @ LAK, Sat @ SJ
You might be doing a double-take on this one, but hear me out. Holtby won’t be on the “avoid” list very often (if ever again), but this week he’s to be avoided. I’m not saying you absolutely have to sit him on your bench. If you can avoid playing him, you should. The Capitals are in the middle of a California trip and that’s never easy for a team who usually plays their games on the East Coast. Also, the fact that the teams from California have been almost unbeatable doesn’t help either. The Capitals will face a stiff test in Los Angeles and San Jose this week with both games starting at 10:30 pm ET. Holtby and his team managed to beat the Ducks in a shootout on Monday, but that was far from an easy two points. There are safer fantasy options this week.
Keith Kinkaid-New Jersey Devils
Schedule: Thu @ SJ, Sat @ LAK, Mon @ ANA
Like Washington, New Jersey is also starting a road trip through California this week. You may be tempted to add Kinkaid off the waiver wire because of the injury to Cory Schneider, but don’t bother. Kinkaid, like the Devils, is average at best. The fact that he doesn’t have a ton of talent in front of him doesn’t help either. Schneider allowed the Devils to stay in the mix for a playoff spot, but now that he’s out at least two weeks that ship has sailed. Kinkaid has a 5-6-1 record with a 2.74 goals-against-average and a .902 save percentage this season. He may get the bulk of the starts, but that won’t make him a very good option in most fantasy formats.
Ondrej Pavelec-Winnipeg Jets
Schedule: Tue vs. NSH, Thu @ DET, Sat vs. COL, Mon vs. VAN
Last season, the Jets made the playoffs for the first time since returning to Winnipeg. Unfortunately for them, there will be no playoffs in 2015-16. The Jets will have an interesting week ahead, as they’ll play four games between now and Monday. Three of those four games are against teams in or close to the playoffs with Vancouver being the exception. Ondrej Pavelec will likely get the majority of those starts. He comes into this week having won just one of his last six outings. The 28-year-old has a 7-10-2 record with a 2.78 goals-against-average and a .903 save percentage in 2015-16. I could see Pavelec getting two to three games this week, but it’ll be hard to imagine him providing fantasy GMs much value.