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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Braden Holtby-Washington Capitals
Schedule: Mon @ PIT, Thu @ STL, Sat @ DAL
Holtby is coming off a huge 6-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night. The 27-year-old has been rolling of late. He’s come up on the winning end of each of his last six decisions and he’s posted three shutouts in his last five games. His upcoming schedule won’t be easy, but stopping the Capitals has been pretty difficult too. Holtby has a 21-8-4 record with a 1.85 goals-against-average and a .933 save percentage.
Devan Dubnyk-Minnesota Wild
Schedule: Tue vs. NJ, Thu vs. ARZ, Sat vs. ANA, Sun vs. NSH
Dubnyk owns the best save percentage (.940) among goalies who have played at least 10 games this season. The Wild goalie has won three games in a row and he’s suffered just one loss in his last 14 games, which is pretty incredible. As if his strong play isn’t enough, his schedule should set him up for an incredible fantasy week. Look for him to get the nod in three of Minnesota’s four home games this week.
John Gibson-Anaheim Ducks
Schedule: Tue vs. TB, Thu vs. COL, Sat @ MIN
Gibson was my top fantasy play of the week in last week’s edition of “In the Crease” and he hasn’t disappointed. He’s 2-0 since Monday, and he’s given up just one goal during that stretch. Gibson will get plus matchups against the struggling Bolts and Avalanche before getting a crack at the red-hot Wild. The Ducks goalie has a 17-10-7 record with a 2.34 goals-against-average and a .920 save percentage this season. It took him some time, but he’s finally starting to come around.
Cam Talbot-Edmonton Oilers
Schedule: Mon vs. ARZ, Wed vs. FLA, Fri vs. NSH, Sat @ CGY
The Oilers will complete their six-game homestand next Friday against Nashville, but even though they’re hitting the road on Saturday, they still won’t have to leave their province. The fact that they don’t have to travel much should help keep the players a little more fresh. Talbot wasn’t named to the All-Star team, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been great for Edmonton. He’s won three of his last four games and he owns an overall record of 21-12-6 this season. Look for him to start three of his team’s four games.
Carey Price-Montreal Canadiens
Schedule: Mon @ DET, Wed vs. PIT, Fri @ NJ, Sat vs. BUF
Price’s numbers have been surprisingly bad over the last couple of weeks. He has just two wins in his last seven games and he’s given up three goals or more in six of those contests, but I’m not worried about him. With such a long season, every player will go through ups and downs. I expect Price to come up with a strong performance next week and it’ll start Monday in Detroit. He’ll likely get a difficult matchup with the Pens on Wednesday, but expect him to get the nod in next Saturday’s game against Buffalo. Price has a 20-7-4 record with a 2.28 goals-against-average and a .923 save percentage. It’s not time for fantasy owners to move Price. Stick it out throughout this slump because he’ll pay huge dividends down the road.
Sergei Bobrovsky-Columbus Blue Jackets
Schedule: Tue vs. CAR, Thu vs. OTT, Sat vs. CAR
Bobrovsky is working his way back from an illness that kept him out of the lineup for each of Columbus’ last two games. Since their 16-game winning streak came to an end, the Jackets have come back down to earth, but they should be able to get back to their winning ways in the near future. This week, they’ll take on Carolina twice and Ottawa once (all at home). Bobrovsky has been terrific at Nationwide Arena, where he has a 15-3-0 record with a 1.84 goals-against-average and a .939 save percentage.
Peter Budaj-Los Angeles Kings
Schedule: Mon vs. TB, Wed vs. SJ, Sat @ NYI
No one in any NHL fantasy league drafted Budaj before the start of the season. But because of an injury to Jonathan Quick, Budaj has been thrown into the starter’s role and he’s looked good. He’s put up a solid 2.10 goals-against-average and a .917 save percentage since the start of 2016-17. He’s won four of his last five games and he should get at least two starts next week. With both the Lightning and Islanders playing underwhelming hockey this season, there’s some potential for Budaj to turn in another solid fantasy week.
Corey Crawford-Chicago Blackhawks
Schedule: Tue @ COL, Fri @ BOS, Sun vs. VAN
Yes, I realize the Hawks just got roasted 6-0 by the Washington Capitals. Crawford was pulled in that game, but I’m looking ahead and I see potential in his upcoming schedule. The Avalanche are bad, the Bruins are up and down and I don’t believe Vancouver is a good team. Before Friday’s loss, Crawford had won three games in a row, so it’s not like he’s been off for very long. He has a 16-9-3 record with a 2.47 goals-against and a .922 save percentage.
Avoid these Netminders
Jake Allen-St. Louis Blues
Schedule: Tue vs. OTT, Thu vs. WSH, Sat @ WPG
It’s been an extremely difficult week for Allen. He was yanked from Tuesday’s game against the Bruins before getting the same treatment in Thursday’s tilt against the Los Angeles Kings. After the loss to LA, head coach Ken Hitchcock said Allen needed to “man-up” and find his way out of this slump. He’s been pulled three times in his last five games. He has just one win during that stretch.
Connor Hellebuyck-Winnipeg Jets
Schedule: Mon @ SJ, Wed vs. ARZ, Sat vs. STL
Hellebuyck has had some good moments in 2016-17, but he’s also had some pretty bad struggles. Right now, it’s safe to say he’s stuck in a rut. The 23-year-old was pulled in Wednesday’s loss to Montreal after he gave up three goals on seven shots, and he got the hook, again, on Friday, as he allowed three goals on seven shots to Arizona. Most young goaltenders always struggle early in their careers, so this isn’t surprising. Unfortunately, it makes him a tough fantasy play in season-long leagues.
Steve Mason-Philadelphia Flyers
Schedule: Sat vs. NJ, Sun @ NYI
Mason didn’t just make this list because the Flyers will begin their bye week, he’s here because he’s been flat out bad. The 28-year-old has dropped seven games in a row, and that doesn’t include the no-decision from Thursday’s game against Vancouver. Look for Mason and Michal Neuvirth to split starts next weekend. Stay away from both of them.
Petr Mrazek-Detroit Red Wings
Schedule: Mon vs. MTL, Wed vs. BOS, Fri @ BUF, Sun vs. NYR
Normally, when a team has four games scheduled in a week, it’s good for their fantasy stock. I’m not sure that’s the case for Mrazek, who is riding a six-game losing streak. Not only is he losing, but he’s giving up a ton of goals too. Mrazek has allowed three goals or more in nine of his last 10 games, which won’t win you many games. Mrazek currently owns a 3.19 goals-against-average and a .893 save percentage (yikes).