The Final Four - Fantasy Hockey Goalie Tournament
It’s Week Eight in the inaugural Cage Match Goalie Tournament and we’ve now reached the semi-finals. That means the brackets are finished. We are done with them. One goalie has emerged from each bracket with the hopes of claiming the top honours in the tournament, which, just to remind you, makes him the fourth best goalie in fantasy hockey this year. Yes that is because we held Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick and Pekka Rinne out of this tournament to make it fair for everyone else and frankly, it’s worked like a charm. The final matchups of each bracket were hotly contested affairs. Let’s see how they played out.
#2 Carey Price over #1 Tuukka Rask – 51 votes to 29 votes.
It is pretty hard to call this an upset but I’m going to call it one anyway. UPSET! WOOOHOOO! UPSET!
Sorry, allow me to compose myself. It’s just that we haven’t seen too many of these in the goalie tournament and it is extremely nice to see.
What was particularly interesting was how wide the margin of victory for Price was. I didn’t realize he had that many backers. I actually thought he was something of a disappointment. The argument from Price voters was that we simply haven’t seen enough of Rask to know for certain if he can produce over a full season. Price on the other hand, has proven he can put up elite numbers even behind a terrible team.
I’m not sure Rask really needed to prove to us that he can produce over a full season. We already know that this season is not going to have 82 games in it so we can scratch off some of the workhorse concerns. We also know that Rask has rebounded from his groin injury and is back playing. I really think that the timing for Rask was just bad. When voting for this matchup opened last week the news of Rask’s groin injury resurfacing had just been released. I’d wager a good portion of votes were swung by that news alone. It’s a shame but at the same time fantasy hockey isn’t played in a vacuum. Things happen and poolies react. Them’s the breaks!
#1 Marc-Andre Fleury over #3 Kari Lehtonen – 45 votes to 25 votes.
I feel highly vindicated by this result. If you recall, I released a piece blasting the Yahoo! pre-season rankings for having Fleury so low and contended that he was a top 10 goalie. Well Fleury has now lasted to the final four of this tournament, which makes him a top 10 goalie. So there, Yahoo!
Now it is entirely possible that that piece alone is responsible for so many backing Fleury (but I’m nowhere near vain enough to assume that) but I’d suggest that it’s more likely that that piece simply reflected what most fantasy hockey players were already feeling. It is also likely that Fleury benefitted from a favourable draw. Whatever the case may be, Fleury moves on.
#1 Ryan Miller over #2 Jaroslav Halak – 61 votes to 14 votes.
Perhaps it wasn’t such a classic matchup after all. While the show of support for Halak was fairly strong in the comments section of the poll, the actual voting went the other way. Miller took this in a landslide and I’m perfectly fine with it. Miller had a bad season last year and it still wasn’t even that bad. He has the same type of game stealing upside that Halak has but he guarantees you starts, which is something Halak cannot do.
#2 Cam Ward over #1 Mike Smith – 55 votes to 17 votes.
Okay, I’m not going to scream “upset” about this one. This was such a shit-kicking that “upset” simply does not fit. What I really think happened here is a simple case of the devil you know being much better than they devil you don’t. Cam Ward has never been an elite fantasy goalie but he’s been on the cusp for a while. We know what we are getting from him.
Smith, on the other hand, well we just simply have no idea. He went from putting forth one of the single worst seasons a starting goaltender has ever had to being a world-beater, all in the span of a year. Which Mike Smith is coming back this year?
I also think that there was a little bit of hype machine at work here. Every year the Coyotes are supposed to drop off and if that happens then so does Smith. It’s also true that every year Ward and the Hurricanes are lauded as breakout candidates and this year is no different. If the Hurricanes make the leap then so does Ward. I voted for Ward, so I’m on the hype train, I’m just saying it may not be the correct answer.
So with just four left we have our semi-final matchups.
I don’t want this to be a part of the debate but I will point out that there is a very strong chance that these two will battle it out to be the starter for Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. I’m not saying that’s on the line here, but at the same time, it kind of is. Whoever performs better this season will have the upper hand going into the final summer before the Games.
Who you got?
I sense something fishy going on here. Why are all four goaltenders in the final four playing for Eastern Conference teams? Is there some kind of regional bias? Hell, three of the four finalists are Canadian and one is American. Maybe there’s a nationalist bias at play?
It’s probably just random chance. After all, two of the “elite three” left out of this tournament play for Western teams and all three of them are not Canadian. Still, I felt it was worth mentioning.
But I digress. I think this one comes down to which team you like better since both Ward and Miller are established as workhorse starters who consistently produce good numbers. It could all come down to whose team gets in more of a zone.
Now let’s take our weekly trip to the Loser’s Bracket to see who escaped and who will be marooned on Loser Island all year.
Braden Holtby – Holtby was almost unanimously voted off of Toskala Island by a score of 43-3, leaving Steve Mason to rot for the next year.
Evgeni Nabokov – Nabokov road his supposed starter status to freedom picking up a 40-8 ticket off of Cheveldae Island.
Jose Theodore – There will most definitely be some stinkers on Cloutier Island this season, but none of them will come from “The Odor” himself.
Michal Neuvirth – Like anyone was really going to let James Reimer escape Salo Island. It was close for Neuvirth but ultimately he gets a free pass because Optimus Reim’s spark went out.
So Steve Mason, Anton Khudobin, Sergei Bobrovsky and James Reimer have all been banished to Loser Island not to return until next season. In other words, stay away from these guys!
Hopefully, you had fun with the Loser’s Bracket. Now remember to follow the links provided for the semi-final matchups to cast your votes and make your voice heard!