There is no crazier figure in fantasy field hockey than a good goalie, especially in head-to-head championships. For example, who wouldn’t take Frederik Andersen with the Ottawa Senators on any given Monday night? It turns out that this perfectly logical decision earned fantasy managers an intuitive minus 6.0 kick this week in standard ESPN.com leagues.
But Toronto’s No. 1 arrested 27 of 28 senators 48 hours later, earning a solid 7.4 points in the dark. Isn’t that crazy?
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Of the goalkeepers with more than eight appearances, only 11 have a save percentage greater than 0.907, clearly indicating the increasing volatility of the popular player’s performance. A mitigating factor is undoubtedly the irregular schedule under the influence of COVID, with teams playing every night or not playing at all for more than two weeks. It is likely that in the near future there will be an increasing number of known fouls with opposing goalies in one league or another. But to win, we still need to get our goalies in the game.
NHL Keepers Depth Chart
That leads us to look beyond the most common type of championship in fantastic leagues that allow transfers when the game and other factors – playing for a good team helps – call in their favor. When we all try to overcome the hurdles of fantasy almost daily, we get creative with titles that take the lead, less regularly/partially between the pipes. The rest of the guys:
Jaroslav Halak, Boston Bruins (in 46.2% of ESPN.com leagues): Why aren’t there more fantasy fans for this guy, he’s a bit of a bogeyman. Only the Avalanche scored fewer goals per game (2.14) than the Bruins – a statistic widely supported by Halak, who scored just seven goals in five games. With a GAA of 1.38 and a save percentage of .938, the 35-year-old has never lost in the regular season. Don’t be surprised if we see a little more Halak and a little less Tuukka Rask over the course of the season. In addition to Boston’s overall defensive appeal, they allow no power-play goals and make 94% of their free throws.
Jake Allen, Montreal Canadiens (34.1%): In six games, Allen was excellent four times and just fine the other two times. It’s no surprise that he recently found himself in a breakaway that nearly tied with heavyweight Cary Price. After a scheduled rest day, Montreal faces the Maple Leafs on Saturday in a less attractive contest behind the Habs. But then there is a series of more attractive games against the Senators, Jets and Canucks. He is already ahead of Price for total fantasy points, although he has played fewer minutes, and should continue to show strong fantasy production when active.
Mike Smith, Edmonton Oilers (27.2%): I know, I know, it was ugly at the beginning of the week, but here’s what’s more impressive: Smith’s shaky start – he gave up four goals (and made only seven saves) against Winnipeg on Monday or his meager .943 SV% victory over those same Jets on Wednesday? Combined with his two previous outstanding performances, including a shutout, I’m more impressed with the latter. Moreover, the Oilers’ skaters and coaches seem to have more confidence in Smith than original number one Mikko Koskinen. And while any Nova Scotia goalie is in constant danger of being outplayed – see “Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom against the Canucks on Wednesday after consistently dropping goals in the last five games against Vancouver” – Smith is worth a fantastic adventure if he feels right. Unless he’s clearly falling apart, the 38-year-old is more likely to rarely explode. That’s the math we need in fantasy.
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Chris Dreiger, Florida Panthers (26.4%): He was better than Bob, let me tell you. With a GAA of 2.39 and an SV of 0.924%, Dreiger has lost just once in seven appearances. In ESPN.com’s Standard League, he has a fantastic average of 4.1 points per game, almost three times as many as Sergei Bobrovsky with 1.4. Perhaps most impressive of all, the 25-year-old is on track for back-to-back wins over the Lightning and Hurricanes, two of the best teams in the NHL. And while the Panthers can’t continue to outscore the competition by a 0.786-point margin – a modest difference of more than five goals guarantees almost as much – they aren’t about to fall off a cliff, either. Florida faces the Red Wings twice next week and the Stars three times. Dryer should become a much more popular fantasy asset with these five games.
Brian Elliott, Philadelphia Flyers (18.8%): The Flyers play the Rangers on Thursday, February 7 due to COVID. They must play twice in the next ten days against the Blueshirts and the Sabres, who are 27th and 26th in the GF/GP league, respectively. Any time Elliott starts No. 1 Carter Hart, despite this reach, more against Boston on Sunday, Elliott deserves to be considered a streaming option. Prior to the recent period of inactivity in Philadelphia, the veteran did well, including against the Bruins. And if the NHL sticks to its plan of making up missed games to cover the entire season, who knows? – The Flyers would call on Elliott even more often so as not to wear down the club’s less experienced 22-year-old goalie.
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Malcolm Subban, Chicago Blackhawks (3.4%): It would never have surprised me to recommend a starting goalie – let alone an invader – to rebuild and beat the Blackhawks in the preseason, and yet here we are. Even with the extra four games (four) against the Lightning, Hurricanes and Panthers, Chicago remains in the top four of the Discover Central Division qualifiers. The Hawks won their games thanks to the strong play of starter Kevin Lankinen and, to a lesser but insignificant extent, the team’s No. 2 pitcher. At .939, Subban has a record of 2-0-1 in their last three games, each of which ended in extension. He has gained the confidence of coach Jeremy Colliton, who has recognized the need for balance in the net. The Blackhawks must play six games over the next 10 days, including back-to-back games against the Hurricanes and, more interestingly, the Red Wings. They also face Christopher Columbus twice. Expect Subban to experience this two, even three times.
Jack Campbell, Toronto Maple Leafs (2.5%): From the whispers around Scotiabank Arena, we can assume that Campbell will return from injury late next week. At that point, scoring heavyweights Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, who more than did their part, would have had to rethink how to put the puck in the net regularly and with equal force. Defensively, the whole team had to come together as well. Overall, this will set the stage for some solid performances from Campbell that will give Freddie Andersen a much-needed break. With Michael Hutchinson’s scheduled departure on Thursday, Andersen has played in all but two of the 17 games and is overworked. The Leafs quickly need a true No. 2 – who looked good in his nose before being overcome by pain – back.
See also Calvin Petersen, Los Angeles Kings; Laurent Brossoit, Winnipeg Jets.