Brett Lockwood

In The Crease

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The World of Keepers (2)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Just as it was in November, handicapping goalies this season has been incredibly difficult. Many members of the goaltender fraternity have turned in Jekyll and Hyde seasons. Look at Ondrej Pavelec, for example. He started the season in remarkable fashion- fainting on the ice during the first few minutes. He then went on a tear, recording win after win. And now? He has two wins in his last 12 starts. Martin Brodeur pulled the reverse. Initially the laughing stock of fantasy pools, he turned it on and became sensational through January and early February.

In early November I tried to predict, to the best of my ability, how goalies would do in November. Here is a little refresher:
Tim Thomas - Preseason goalie rank: 25
Yahoo! goalie rank on November 9, 2010 : 1
Predicted rank in a month: 12
Current rank: 1

Tim Thomas has—incredibly--held onto the number one spot in goalie rankings. He has battled the puck all season but continues to impress everybody in the NHL. I had a discussion the other day with another sports enthusiast about Hall of Fame credentials. Does winning two Vezina Trophies make you an automatic HOFer? Thomas is on the verge of doing just that. As for next year, it is hard to say where to rank Thomas. After his first Vezina Trophy, Rotoworld ranked him as the best overall option. Will we do that again? Probably not. Think of Thomas as a top 10 option next season. Remember, the Bruins love Tuukka Rask and will give him lots of playing time moving forward.

Roberto Luongo - Preseason goalie rank: 2
Yahoo! goalie rank on November 9, 2010: 18
Predicted rank in a month: 3
Current rank: 3

Robbie Lu has made my predictions look pretty good right about now. He has turned it on this season and vaulted the Canucks into Stanley Cup favorites. Luongo is undefeated in his last 15 regulation games, an incredible stat when you think about it. Boasting extremely stellar numbers, Luongo is the key to the Vancouver team. He remains one of, if not the best, goaltender in the game. As for next year, no doubt he will be the number one option in the crease. If you have the luxury of owning Luongo in a keeper pool, you are one lucky poolie.

Brian Elliott - Preseason goalie rank: 29
Yahoo! goalie rank on November 9, 2010: 39
Predicted rank in a month: 21
Current rank: 25

Like the Senators team, Elliott is struggling mightily this season. The one attractive thing about him in November was his guaranteed starts. Near the beginning of the year nobody thought Elliott would relinquish the throne (because there was no one else, right?). Enter Robin Lehner. Lehner has not played well in the NHL, partially because the Senators are horrific at the moment. With Lehner in the nation's capital, Elliott's stock tumbles. The Senators know Lehner is the future of the team and may wish to give him every chance this season. Elliott's future is bleak next season: Lehner's is significantly brighter.

Mathieu Garon - Preseason goalie rank: 49
Yahoo! goalie rank on November 9, 2010: 4
Predicted goalie rank in a month: 34
Current rank: 29

Garon, as I predicted, slowed done tremendously. He rarely saw the crease in January as Steve Mason regained his form. Garon is not a solid play any longer and should not be owned in many leagues (22% of leagues must be West-Only). The Blue Jackets know they need to get Mason going if they want a shot. Mason has great long-term keeper value, as he has shown in the past he is capable of big things. Garon, not so much. He won't be a factor next year.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere - Preseason goalie rank: 28
Yahoo! goalie rank on November 9, 2010: 24
Predicted goalie rank in a month: 23
Current rank: 32

Why is Jiggy still owned in 22% of leagues? I assume it is because poolies speculate he will be dealt to a contender? Maybe he will have good value on Detroit or Anaheim this season. Moving forward, Jiggy has no value as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He has posted horrid numbers this season and should be moved to make room for Jonas Gustavsson and James Reimer. If you have Jiggy, I can only assume he isn't starting for you. If that is the case, wait until he is dealt and move him immediately. He has no value any longer for this year or next.

Ryan Miller - Preseason goalie rank: 1
Yahoo! goalie rank on November 9, 2010: 38
Predicted rank in a month: 10
Current rank: 14

Miller is getting the bulk of starts in Buffalo, boosting his value big time. The number of starts a goalie gets has a significant impact on his overall statistics. Miller has started every game for Buffalo since November 20, 2010, and he has really turned it on of late, boosting his dreadful early season numbers. Moving forward, Miller is as valuable as they come. Next season he should be the second ranked goalie, just behind Roberto Luongo.

As you can see, my predictions were almost spot on for these goaltenders. Of course there have been unexpected surprises. Would anyone have predicted that Brian Boucher would be owned in 40% of leagues this year? That percentage should be a lot higher considering he splits time for the best East team. Dwayne Roloson is another who has earned extremely high grades this season. These guys are a dime a dozen and will eventually fade out. Overall you have to remember that your horses are your horses for a reason. Goalies come and go with strong seasons. Remain confident in your go-to goalies and you will end up doing well in your pool. Here are my predictions for the top five goalies in 2011-12: Roberto Luongo, Ryan Miller, Henrik Lundqvist, Marc-Andre Fleury, Pekka Rinne

***Did you know?***
Roberto Luongo is on a very impressive streak, undefeated in his last 15 regulation games. Did you know the longest undefeated streak by a goaltender in one season was Gerry Cheevers? In 1971-72, Cheevers went undefeated in 32 straight games. Now that puts Luongo to shame.

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