We’re now three weeks into the season, and already there are some intriguing developments taking place between “starters” and their “backups” right now. For example, you could stab my eyes out with a plastic fork, but I’d still see the polarizations taking place between Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider advocates and fans. The tandem of Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier in Los Angeles has also been a hot-button topic over the past few days.
Because of these storylines, the legit strategy of handicapping and securing tandems is either lingering in the back of your mind, or staring you right in the face. It’s a great move to make if you have the room, and if certain goalies are available, so let’s look at a few teams that might be worth handicapping.
First of all, there’s the ever-so-endearing tandem in Vancouver. Luongo is inexcusably struggling in October again, while Schneider isn’t off to the same stellar start he had last season. Sure, he’ll play in more than 25 games this season, but because there’s so much pressure on the Canucks right now, I don’t think it makes sense to handicap them both. I personally wouldn’t touch Luongo with a 10-foot pole in the first place, even if he does get better in November. I just think there will be too many frustrating losses compared to the other “Top-10” fantasy goalies.
I do like the potential of securing the tandem in New Jersey right now, but mainly for strategic purposes. Martin Brodeur is still nursing that shoulder injury (Johan Hedberg starts tonight), which is another sign he’s inching towards retirement. But it is because his value is so low right now that grabbing him could pay off huge later in the season.
When Brodeur returns from his injury, I could see him having a strong push lasting anywhere from 3-5 games. That’s when it will pay off to sell high – cash in on that window of opportunity before he gets hurt again. If he stays healthy and finds a way to return to top-notch form, you’re all the wiser. Hedberg is always a steady asset to own, so you’re essentially playing the buy-low, sell-high game with Brodeur, while The Moose acts as a perfect insurance policy. Hell, you could even keep Keith Kinkaid in your queue if you’d like; he’s an underrated prospect for sure.
The same situation could be applied to Tampa Bay’s tandem. Dwayne Roloson is a disaster right now, and can’t be considered a steady asset at all. But by grabbing him when his value is this low, and knowing that Mathieu Garon is going to continue to play well this season, it makes for a great opportunity to sell Roloson when his value inevitably increases when he does start to win a few games. Garon is also another great insurance policy as well.
Finally, I would roll the dice on the Islanders tandem of Al Montoya and Evgeni Nabokov. Even though they’re both lacking a rhythm right now, I think both have good upside this season and both will post better stats than most people are led to believe. The Islanders may or may not trade one of them, but if they do, it probably results in their fantasy value going up. I’m only speculating on that one, as injuries could pop up and chance things at any given moment.
In my opinion, Mike Smith and Jason LaBarbera continue to be one of the best “hidden” tandems to own. Dave Tippett’s system goes a long way in making both goalies more valuable than they originally appeared a month ago. Smith has quietly been playing really well so far, and LaBarbera has already stepped in and won a game on the road. Nobody gives LaBarbera a fair shake, but consider him kind of like a poor man’s Brian Elliott.
Allow my limited insight on Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth to speak loudly. This is a tandem I would love to own. Not only because the team is strong and motivated, but due to the high number of back-to-back games and the quality talent level of both goalies. Enroth will be making his second start of the season tonight against the Blue Jackets.
In Boston, Tuukka Rask was supposed to play more this season, but the team’s struggles and the schedule hasn’t allowed for it yet. But as Joe Haggerty points out in this revealing piece, it looks like the Bruins are going to rely more on Rask in the second half. But it always seems like they’re saying he’ll play more…and then Tim Thomas doesn’t allow it to happen. Again, look at how low Rask’s value is right now (he is 0-2-0 and barely playing) and consider the swell in value that could transpire come January, 2012.
THE WEEKLY WARRIOR
Mathieu Garon: What makes Garon such a solid goaltender is his experience. The more he plays, the more steady he seems to become in terms of managing the puck. Many of you know I ranted and raved about how he was handled in Edmonton and Pittsburgh, so it’s great to be able to tag him as the Weekly Warrior. At 3-1-1 with a 1.78 GAA, a .942 save percentage and one shutout, Garon has quickly acclimated to his new team. He only allowed four goals in three wins over the past week, two of which were against the potent Buffalo Sabres. Those are massive points that instill confidence in Guy Boucher and his teammates, so you’ll see Garon tonight in Nashville and maybe even again on Saturday at home against Winnipeg.
THE HIDDEN NINJA
Craig Anderson: Last week, Anderson took a short personal leave for family reasons, and just as he did in the same situation with Colorado, he returned with a newfound sense of focus and confidence. Three straight wins has clearly turned him into the Anderson of old for now, but nobody knows how long it will last. I know Craig’s game very well, so I know he’s the type of goalie where a lot of his success relies on the team in front of him. He can stand on his head when his team is fighting hard in front of him, but if they lack a certain amount of intensity, Anderson seems to get frustrated easily and struggle. He stopped 85-of-91 shots in those three wins, but still has a 3.74 GAA and .883 SP%. He starts tonight against the Panthers and will play at least one game this weekend (in NYI and home against TOR).
Ilya Bryzgalov: There’s no other way to say this, but the last three games have not been good enough for Bryzgalov. He gave up five goals on 28 shots to the Capitals last Thursday, and then he gave up four goals against the Blues on Saturday. Both games revealed some inattentive play, as well as some lazy sequences where he just didn’t track the puck as well as he usually does. With Sergei Bobrovsky earning the win at home against Toronto, Bryzgalov had to adjust to playing without Chris Pronger, and boy did it show. He gave up five goals on 28 shots (again) to the motivated Canadiens and stoked the ire of Flyers fans. Without Pronger in the lineup, the team is not the same and the goaltending will be under a lot of pressure to stop pucks. Bryzgalov is not comfortable or acclimated playing against Eastern Conference teams, and he has struggled against them in prior seasons.
SEVEN THOUGHTS ON SIX GOALIES
My new semi-daily blog is all about my raw thoughts on goalies. In today’s installment, I discuss Luongo’s mental struggles and how it influences Schneider’s projected potential. Then I look at what many fans think of Jonas Gustavsson, and how he played great against Philly, but gave up one goal that really irked me. Then I discuss a little bit of Brian Elliott’s current play and finish with some thoughts on Bryzgalov and Bobrovsky as well!
*This entire article was researched and constructed using GoaliePost as a resource. Please consider becoming a member for only $9.99 for the entire year and support the DobberHockey and The Goalie Guild alliance!