It's come down to this. After two months of voting, the two goalies set to do battle to become the fourth best fantasy goalie (after Jonathan Quick, Henrik Lundqvist and Pekka Rinne) are...
#2 Carey Price over #1 Marc-Andre Fleury – 43 votes to 27 votes.
I’ve got to admit, I’m a bit puzzled by this result. I think most would agree that Price is a better goaltender than Fleury but that’s not all that factors into fantasy hockey decisions. With goaltenders the team you play for is always going to be a really big chunk of the puzzle. So let’s do a quick exercise:
Last season on one of the league’s worst teams Price gave you 26 Wins, a 2.43 GAA, a .916 Save% and four shutouts. If we assume that he is one of the absolute best goalies in the league AND that Montreal cannot be worse than they were last season then Price cannot possibly put up worse stats than those.
Fleury, on the other hand, played for one of the league’s best teams last season and gave you 42 wins, a 2.36 GAA, a .913 Save% and three shutouts. Again, if we make the assumption that Fleury is mediocre at best AND that Pittsburgh cannot possibly be better than they were last season then Fleury cannot do any better.
After all those assumptions it is still very close. The fact is that Fleury is talented and the team in front of him is unreasonably talented. Has everyone forgotten that he will have Crosby in front of him next season too? Has everyone been tainted by his dismal playoff performance? Has anyone heard of a small sample size? The Penguins won’t be playing the Flyers more than four times this season. The rest of the games he should actually play well.
You can argue that there is more upside with taking Price – that he is a goalie capable of stealing games and that if he can string enough of those games together he can steal you a great fantasy season but let’s look at what he did in his best season so far:
Price’s career best numbers 38 wins, 2.35 GAA, .923 Save% and eight shutouts. Only the shutouts give Price an advantage over what Fleury will give you. Are you really going to gamble your season on a goalie’s ability to get shutouts when it’s one of the more random acts in sports? And isn’t it possible that Price’s career high of eight shutouts from that season was a bit of a sample size fluke? Is Price really better at stealing games and shutting teams out than Fleury? I admit he’s better but significantly so? I don’t think so.
Price has 16 shutouts in 263 starts good for a shutout rate of 6.1%. Fleury, meanwhile, has 22 shutouts in 416 career starts good for a shutout rate of 5.3%. Price may be better but it’s not significant. The difference in their career shutout rate factored over an entire season’s worth of starts (I said 65) is worth about 0.5 shutouts so there’s hardly an advantage to be had although that doesn’t factor in random chance.
We know Fleury should give you more wins and we know that the GAA and Save% stats are going to be fairly close given the nature of the teams these two play for. Is half a shutout really worth it to go for Price?
But in all fairness you have to go with your gut and if your gut tells you that Fleury stinks while Price is the real deal, it is pretty hard to argue with that.
#1 Ryan Miller over #2 Cam Ward – 38 votes to 34 votes.
This one was has to go down as one of the tightest matchups in Cage Match Tournament history. There simply wasn’t much separating these two and I don’t have much of an argument to make either way. I will say that Miller’s status as a former Greatest Goaltender Alive and Playing (G-GAP for short) made him a nostalgia pick for some people. Will Miller ever hit those heights again? I don’t know but it seems enough people were willing to bet on it.
On the flip side, it’s also possible that Ward lost a few votes by perpetually existing on the “next big thing” list. Pretty well since he won the Cup in ’06, Ward has been pegged as a franchise goaltender and one of the next guys to break out. Well now it is 2012 and it still hasn’t happened, yet every year we find a reason to get worked up about it. This year it’s the uniting of the brothers Staal as well as the addition of Alex Semin. I just wonder if some people don’t hold some resentment towards Ward for having yet to fulfill all that promise.
And so just two remain in our quest to find the fourth best goaltender in fantasy hockey this season. It’s Ryan Miller vs. Carey Price in a battle of Northeast Division foes.
Remember to cast your votes based on a one year league with Wins, Goals Against Average, Save Percentage and Shutouts as categories. Now follow the link provided to cast your vote and make your voice heard!