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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Cory Schneider-New Jersey Devils
Schedule: Tue vs. COL, Thu @ CAR, Fri vs. PHI, Sun vs. FLA
Schneider has been impressive throughout the season and has kept a team with a below-average roster in the playoff picture.
He was very good in a back-to-back situation against the Montreal Canadiens over the weekend. The Devils picked up three of a possible four points against the Habs and Schneider was a big reason for that.
The 29-year-old will take on Colorado, who’ll be playing their second game in two nights, a bad Carolina team and the Panthers on Sunday. He played back-to-back games last Friday and Saturday, so I’d expect him to get a rest against the Flyers on Friday.
Schneider has an 11-6-2 record with a 2.03 goals-against-average and a .928 save percentage.
Henrik Lundqvist-New York Rangers
Schedule: Wed @ NYI, Thu vs. COL, Sun vs. OTT
The Rangers got their week started on the right foot with a win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for them.
Lundqvist should get two more starts over the next seven days with Antti Raanta getting Wednesday or Thursday’s game.
King Henrik had a couple of bad performances but he seems to have moved on from his struggles and should be a good bet to come away with a couple of wins this week.
The 33-year-old has a 13-5-2 record with a 2.10 goals-against-average and a.935 save percentage.
Craig Anderson-Ottawa Senators
Schedule: Tue vs. PHI, Thu vs. CHI, Sat vs. NYI, Sun @ NYR
Prior to Saturday’s loss to Arizona, Anderson had won four in a row and he hadn’t lost in regulation since Nov. 10.
The 34-year-old posted back-to-back shutouts during his four-game winning streak but also allowed seven goals in the last two games of the streak.
He’s given up 11 goals in his last three games, but what matters are the wins.
Anderson should get at least three of the four starts over the next seven days and although they won’t be easy matchups, he’s shown that he’s able to steal games for Ottawa.
He has a 10-5-3 record with a 2.78 goals-against-average and a .916 save percentage in 2015-16.
Tuukka Rask-Boston Bruins
Schedule: Wed @ EDM, Fri @ CGY, Sat @ VAN, Mon vs. NSH
Rask enters the week having won each of his last three starts and although three of Boston’s four games will be played on the road, there are some plus-matchups here.
Both Edmonton and Calgary are near the bottom of the league standings, while the Predators have scored just six goals in their last six games.
Rask has shown a ton of improvement since the beginning of the season and I think he’ll be able to keep up it up over the next seven days.
If he continues playing well, I think it’s not unreasonable to think that he can get three of four starts.
Jonas Gustavsson will probably play on Friday or Saturday, but fantasy owners have to be pleased with the possibility of Rask playing in three contests.
Pekka Rinne-Nashville Predators
Schedule: Tue vs. ARZ, Thu vs. FLA, Sat @ DET, Mon @ BOS
The Predators have been struggling, like really struggling. They’ve scored just six goals in their last six games and have been shut out three times during that span.
You’ll look at Rinne’s recent stats and probably ask yourself “Why is this guy putting him in the Good Options category?” That’s a fair question, but it’s tough to ignore the favorable schedule he and the Preds have this week.
I’m not saying the Coyotes, Panthers, Red Wings and Bruins will be a walk in the park for the Predators, but they have to score some time, right?
With four games and no back-to-backs, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Rinne get every start.
If his team wasn’t in such a bad funk, he probably would’ve been in my “Great Options”.
Mike Condon-Montreal Canadiens
Schedule: Tue vs. CBJ, Thu vs. WSH, Sat @ CAR
We’ve seen a lot more of the rookie goaltender than we thought, but he’s been terrific for the most part.
He’ll have a couple of tough matchups against an improved Blue Jackets team and a potent Capitals squad, but I expect him to get all three starts and he could realistically come away with two wins.
Condon has an 8-2-3 record with a 2.19 goals-against-average and a .916 save percentage this season.
Pick him up off the waiver wire if he’s still sitting there.
Braden Holtby-Washington Capitals
Schedule: Thu @ MTL, Sat @ WPG
The Capitals might only have two games this week, but when you’re as hot as Braden Holtby’s been, you can’t just leave him on the bench.
The 26-year-old has won seven consecutive starts and he has just one loss in his last 10 games.
In those 10 games, Holtby has allowed more than two goals just twice and in both cases he gave up three.
Holtby’s margin for error will be smaller than normal, but it’s not impossible for him to come away with two more wins this week.
Devan Dubnyk-Minnesota Wild
Schedule: Tue @ CHI, Thu vs. TOR, Sat vs. COL, Mon @ COL
The Wild come into this week on a three-game losing streak and things don’t get easier for them on Tuesday night when they take on a Chicago team that has an 8-2-1 record at home.
The fact that Dubnyk has a chance to play all four games this week is obviously a plus.
I like the two home matchups against the Leafs and Avalanche, but it’s tough to sweep a home-and-home series in today’s NHL.
Even though they’re slumping right now, I’m comfortable with saying Dubnyk will win at least two games this week.
Give him a go.
Avoid these Netminders
Semyon Varlamov-Colorado Avalanche
Schedule: Tue @ NJ, Thu @ NYR, Sat @ MIN, Mon @ MIN
The workload shouldn’t be a problem for Varlamov this week, but the results might be.
The 27-year-old was called out by head coach Patrick Roy, again, after Monday’s loss to the Islanders.
Varlamov is 2-1-0 in four games since returning from a groin injury, but he’s given up 11 goals in those four games.
With no back-to-back situations, Varlamov may very well start three games and under normal circumstances that would be great.
Unfortunately, I just can’t trust him right now. I need to see some improvement before I throw him in there against the Devils, Rangers and Wild.
Marc-Andre Fleury-Pittsburgh Penguins
Schedule: Tue @ SJ, Sat @ LAK, Sun @ ANA
The Penguins are off to an average start this season, but that isn’t really Fleury’s fault.
He’s usually kept them in games that they had no business being in, so I’m not pointing the finger at him, specifically, but I will point the finger at some of his teammates.
The Penguins closed out the month of November with back-to-back losses to Columbus and Edmonton.
Evgeni Malkin has scored Pittsburgh’s last four goals, but where are the rest of the guys?
Like the Avalanche, I can’t trust the Penguins to pick up multiple wins on this road trip.
Sure they have a great matchup against the Ducks on Sunday, but expecting wins against San Jose and Los Angeles may be asking a little too much of this group right now.
Cam Ward-Carolina Hurricanes
Schedule: Thu vs. NJ, Sat vs. MTL, Sun vs. ARZ
Last week, I trusted Cam Ward enough to put him in my “Good Options” category and he left me disappointed.
Ward was very good against the Oilers last Wednesday, but his performance against the Sabres on Friday night was frustrating for his fantasy owners.
I wasn’t expecting him to beat the Rangers on Monday, so I’ll refrain from criticizing him for that loss.
This week, the ‘Canes will host the Devils, Habs and Coyotes. Even though they’ll be on home ice, I don’t like those matchups for Carolina.
Leave Ward on the bench this week.
Ryan Miller-Vancouver Canucks
Schedule: Tue @ LAK, Thu vs. DAL, Sat vs. BOS, Mon vs. BUF
Miller got the hook in Monday’s game against the Ducks and I don’t expect to see him in goal against the Kings on Tuesday.
That leaves a pair of tough matchups against Dallas and Boston on Thursday and Saturday, and a winnable game at home against his former team on Monday.
Miller has an underwhelming 2-6-2 record in his last 10 games.
If Jacob Markstrom does get the start against the Kings, and plays well, could Vancouver turn to him again on Thursday? I don’t think they’d do that, but Miller’s struggles could tempt them to make that decision.