James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Pulling the plug

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

There are plenty of things that can qualify as the bane of a fantasy owner’s existence. Here are a few, off the top of my head:


  • A seedy trade takes place and gets approved, despite your totally rational, wholly mature and definitely never personal message board threads written against said trade. (Bonus aggravation points come about if the two trading parties are dating, with one clearly pawning off their best players in exchange for scrubs to gain spousal approval. There’s an unprintable term for this practice, but I’ll just call it “couples collusion” here.)
  • Losing out on that genius free agent pickup because an equal genius with a higher waiver priority snatches that player instead.
  • The player who egregiously slipped your mind during the draft (perhaps because you were enjoying the “party” portion of your draft party too much) ends up being the one element your team needs all season long and/or the difference-maker in a head-to-head playoff match.
  • The pick you flaunted as proof of your unparalleled intellect ends up flopping miserably.
  • The typical frustration of day-to-day injuries and multiple-game suspensions that never completely goes away.
  • Your player not just failing to produce, but getting a big fat “minus” to boot.


Yup, there are a lot of moments that will make especially competitive fantasy owners grit their teeth and close their browser windows in disgust. Still, if there’s a single seemingly random occurrence that makes your stomach sink in instantaneous despair, it’s the totally disastrous goalie start. Nine times out of 10, that stat-crushing instance results in that goalie getting “pulled” but it’s not a universal truth.


Tuesday night provided two bruising goalie pulls and one performance that could act as a functional equivalent. Let’s take a quick look at them, with apologies to the many owners who are essentially watching an instant replay of that sadness. We’ll go in order of shortest starts:



Craig Anderson was lifted from the Ottawa Senators’ 6-2 loss to Montreal after allowing four goals on just seven shots at the 22:03 mark of that game. That’s two minutes and three second into the second period, which means that his single game GAA would be somewhere around 12.


It’s fun to joke when a goalie has less than a 50 percent save percentage, but Anderson couldn’t even manage that. Honestly, his 2011-12 stats haven’t been pretty anyway, yet if there was one game that many expected to pay off, it would have to be the one against the seemingly punch-less Habs.


This isn’t reason to cut bait on Anderson. If you’ve had him for this season, you’re probably aware of that fact that his numbers aren’t going to be very pretty, but he’s usually worth it for the opportunities to rake in wins.



James Reimer’s night wasn’t quite as disastrous as Anderson’s, but it was pretty close. The Toronto Maple Leafs goalie allowed three goals on eight shots and was yanked from the game at the 24:13 mark. That looks more respectable than Anderson’s work (one less goal, one more save and two more minutes), but it might have hurt more fantasy owners since Reimer is likely to be on a larger amount of teams. With Anderson, you sort of shake your head at those numbers like you’d scold an untrained dog that ruins your couch. The expectations are a little higher for Reimer, even if he might not be best in show, either.



Unlike Reimer and Anderson, Ilya Bryzgalov actually made it through the entire start. For that reason, his numbers won’t be as brutal, but it seemed like the Tampa Bay Lightning could have inflicted more damage on his numbers if they really wanted to. He finished the game 11 for 16, but that was after surrendering four goals on just 10 shots. If Peter Laviolette really wanted to, he could have handed the night to Sergei Bobrovsky, but Breezy was forced to stay in net and marinate in his frustrations instead of spacing out on the bench.


The interesting part about those bad nights – particularly the Anderson and Reimer debacles – is that they happened so early in the week. If you happen to own Anderson and Reimer, feel free to let me know if you end up winning your goalie categories (especially GAA and save percentage) at the end of the week. The best spin I can provide on those tough nights is that you’ll have no reason to fear matchups; you should just throw caution to the win and hope to take the quantity stats like wins, saves and shutouts this week.

After the jump: Michalek’s comeback, more concussion misery and more.

continue story »
James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
Email :James O'Brien

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