Once you get past the obvious elites and the rapidly shrinking group of goalies who shouldn’t be starters in the NHL, there’s the murkier middle class. Sometimes when it comes to those guys, it’s all about random luck, your personal preferences and (probably most importantly) the teams around them.
Craig Anderson is one of those goalies stuck in the middle. Generally speaking, most people agree that the Ottawa Senators gave him an excessively hefty contract shortly after trading for him. After that, opinions tend to diverge. Some look at him as a career backup who had just one good season with the Colorado Avalanche before reality hit hard. Others think that his struggles in 2010-11 were the outlier, instead.
I tend to lean a little more toward that latter group, with an important caveat: the team in front of him isn’t great, so he’s far from a high-end choice in net. So far this season, the anti-Anderson crowd is winning more often than not, as his .894 save percentage and 3.33 GAA attests.
Anderson’s last two games give some reason to think that he might turn things around, at least to an extent that he could be worthy of the third spot in your goalie rotation. He stopped 38 out of 39 shots to beat the Calgary Flames last night and has only allowed three goals on 72 shots during his last two wins.
It’s dangerous to rely on such small spurts of stats since they constitute such an insignificant sample size – especially since he dropped five straight games before It – but my advice would be to keep an eye on Anderson if he’s a free agent. Don’t drop a more dynamic goalie or player, but if you’re desperate in that area or you're searching for that extra push over the top, he might be a solid choice.
ELLIOTT REMAINS BRILLIANT
Comically enough, the guy Anderson was traded for late in 10-11 is having a much, much better start despite the fact that he wasn’t even guaranteed a backup spot coming into this season with St. Louis. Elliott improved his record to 7-1-0 by beating the Detroit Red Wings and is putting up stellar individual numbers.
If we lived in a fair hockey world, Elliott would be the de facto starter for the Blues. Jaroslav Halak is the big money maker, though. So as weird and wrong as it might seem, the team will probably switch Halak back in the moment Elliott falters, even if it's not totally obvious that Halak is the better choice.
Elliott is a solid short-term guy because he’s forcing a platoon situation by the sheer, blunt force of his great play. In the long run, he might just hurt Halak’s value and get a few less experienced fantasy owners’ hopes up. As long as you keep everything in perspective and know that this opportunity probably won’t last, there’s nothing wrong with riding that wave of momentum, though. (Bonus points if you trade him while his value is at an all-time high, by the way.)
After the jump: Red-hot Rangers and Bruins, plus injury bits regarding Ilya Kovalchuk, Roberto Luongo and more.