Since today is Thanksgiving here in Colorado, it’s a rare day off for me from GoaliePost and The Goalie Guild. But I still wanted to have some fun by showing thanks to a set of coaches and goalies that have made my fantasy teams successful so far. It has been quite an entertaining first quarter of the season, so with that in mind, here’s a crew of characters I’m grateful for on this Thanksgiving holiday.
Mike Yeo – I’m thankful for Wild head coach Mike Yeo, and for his ability to change the goaltending culture in Minnesota. Since Day 1, his decision-making has positively influenced both Niklas Backstrom’s and Josh Harding’s fantasy value. I speak of tandems like they’re the fountain of youth, and it feels good to see my lesson come to fruition. This is what it means to leave no throne unthreatened, and Yeo’s plan is working to perfection. More GM’s will see this work, and it will have an influence on how other teams manage their goalies moving forward.
Jhonas Enroth – I’m thankful for this special Swedish prospect, for he truly breaks down the barriers of the most prevalent trend taking place in goaltending. He’s visible proof that “bigger” goalies are not always the best goalies. At 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds soaking wet, he proves vision is a weapon when it comes to stopping the puck. His efforts over the past 12 months have been remarkable, and it is playing a major role in how coaches see the position, how scouts evaluate goalie prospects, and how smaller athletes all over the world are able to stop the puck.
Chris Osgood – I’m thankful for this long-tenured Red Wings goalie-turned-goalie-coach because of the positive influence he’s having on Jimmy Howard. Over the past week, I’ve been really impressed with Howard’s game. He is maturing right before our eyes by displaying more patience on his edges than ever before. Remember last season? He was way too aggressive, coming way out of his crease to challenge shooters, dropping early, then getting burned like unattended pancakes on the griddle. But not this year. He’s reading plays with more efficiency, he’s coming up with timely saves, and he’s stretching his “slightly above average” talents to the absolute max. Osgood has made a seamless transition to coaching, and the relationship between he and Howard will pay off in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
James Reimer – Nobody likes to see a goalie suffer a head injury. It’s unfortunate, it’s scary, and it’s happening on a more consistent basis. As a result, I can almost personally guarantee that you will see some significant changes this summer in terms of goalie mask construction, molding and padding. I’m thankful that James Reimer is back on the ice, as today was his first full-blown practice since Nov. 1, so he’ll soon be back between the pipes. There is so much focus and attention in Toronto that I think all Leafs fans, even if they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, can join in the celebration since their starter is almost back.
J-S Giguere – Things have hit rock-bottom here in the Rocky Mountains. The Avalanche is a dismal 3-8-0 on home ice, which is a worse home record than Columbus. The team is poorly coached, they have no identity, and there’s no dynamic offense to be found. But I’m very thankful that I have had the opportunity to see what kind of valuable influence Giguere has had on this team, and on struggling “starter” Semyon Varlamov. What Giguere has done is special; he leads by example. He speaks up in the locker room, he shows a sense of urgency in how he practices and plays, and he takes it upon himself to play a conservative and economical style in order to make lives easier for his defensemen. I may not be a fan of his style, but it works for him, and it has been a real treat to watch up close.
Curtis Sanford – Signed to play in Springfield, did anyone imagine the Sandman would be 2-0-2 with a 1.33 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage right now? I sure didn’t. But what a story for a veteran goaltender that has truly paid his dues. Last season in Hamilton, he was a stud for the Bulldogs until he went down with an injury. I’m thankful for Sanford’s success so far because he proves there will always be a place in the NHL for the veteran presence. You don’t have to be the most talented guy in the world to be a fantasy value; you just need a positive mindset, a calm demeanor and the ability to radiate poise from the crease. Sanford has done all of these things, and he deserves to keep playing until Steve Mason returns from injury.
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THANKS FOR READING
I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for reading my goalie analysis on here and NHL.com this season. It has been an honor to provide you with my personal insights on the position, and I enjoy powering GoaliePost through The Goalie Guild. Here’s a special note and message I posted to all of you. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!