Fantasy Goalies: Who to sit, who to start?

Though it was a shortened week for the NHL and not everyone could make it to the All-Star game, there were quite a few all-star saves made among some of this week's highlights.

With the NHL season back in full swing after the all-star break, teams will start playing a more condensed schedule before the playoffs start in April.

An increased number of games mean that we see teams play their backups more often if they clinch a playoff spot early or if they are out of the playoff race. But this schedule could also mean that teams in the heat of a playoff race will ride their starters more. This is just one more factor to pay attention to as you project when your fantasy team’s goalie will start.

But week to week, we will do some of the work for you in projecting which goalies could stand out more than normal and which goalies might have a down week by their standards. A few such goalies for the coming week of Feb. 8-14 are listed below.

START

Petr Mrazek, DET (vs. FLA, vs. OTT, vs. COL, vs. BOS)
The Red Wings have the rare opportunity to play four home games in one week. Surprisingly, Mrazek has a better record away from Joe Louis Arena (12-5-0, 1.95 GAA, .937 SV%) than he has at home (7-5-4, 2.11 GAA, .925 SV%).

Still, his home stats are still impressive and are somewhat of a reflection of the Wings somehow being a better team on the road than at home. With only the fourth game of the week (Sunday against Boston) being a back-to-back, Mrazek could even potentially start four times this week.

Robin Lehner, BUF (vs. FLA, @PHI, vs. MTL, vs. COL)
We’ve mentioned Lehner here recently, but we’re going to reinforce our view anyway since he’s still unowned in many leagues. The Sabres have four games, including three at home, so Lehner should be good for three starts this week. Lehner has been remarkably consistent, having allowed two goals in each of his last five games while making at least 33 saves in each of those games.

After missing three months with an ankle injury, Lehner will be the clear No. 1 starter for the Sabres going forward.

Keith Kinkaid, NJ (@NYR, vs. EDM, @PHI, vs. LA)
Cory Schneider should be considered a no-brainer start every week, as he is this week. But the Devils happen to play two pairs of back-to-backs this week, which could make Kinkaid a two-start possibility. In many leagues the 1 and 1A goalies in your league are already spoken for, leaving fantasy teams to scramble for a backup that they can squeeze one start out of.

Kinkaid has started only nine times all season to Schneider’s 44, so two starts may be a reach. But one matchup against either the Oilers or the Flyers could be reason enough to add him.

SIT

Braden Holtby, WAS (@NSH, @MIN, @DAL)
How strong has Holtby’s season been? He is on pace to become the first goalie to ever reach 50 wins. But he and the Capitals face a grueling road trip through the Central Division this week. In particular, the Capitals/Stars game on Saturday could turn into a scoring fest.

In addition, backup Philipp Grubauer could start more often now that the Caps have a decent-sized lead in the Atlantic Division. But keep in mind that this is a very small “s” sit that is targeted more toward daily leaguers than anyone. Holtby is still worth starting over most goalies.

Mike Condon, MTL (vs. TB, @BUF)
We’ve recommended Canadiens’ goalies in weeks past, which until the weekend didn’t turn out so well. Then Ben Scrivens made the most of back-to-back weekend starts, allowing just one goal in each game. In an attempt to ride whatever positives he can find, Michel Therrien will probably start Scrivens again on Tuesday against Tampa Bay.

Since the Habs are one of two teams to play just two games this week (Carolina is the other), Condon might be left out in the cold this week. In fact, he’s droppable in many leagues at this point.

Kari Lehtonen, DAL (@MIN, @CHI, vs. WAS)
Antti Niemi seems to be the preferred choice in Dallas at the moment, having started each of the last six games. But even if Lehtonen starts one or even two games this week, the Stars have a scary schedule ahead.

The Wild have struggled to score, and Lehtonen could earn the nod for Tuesday’s game after Niemi was pulled on Saturday. But beyond that, matchups against the Blackhawks and Capitals shouldn’t be appealing at all. For a 1A goalie with subpar numbers again this season (2.82 GAA, .907 SV%), Lehtonen is owned in far too many leagues.

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