Fantasy Goalies: Who to sit, who to start?

Corey Hirsch explains how to make goalie equipment smaller without sacrificing protection, and how that can lead to more goals.

What if the NHL agreed with Corey Hirsch and decided to reduce the size of goalie equipment?

The degree that goaltending equipment plays in the success of a goalie may be up for debate, but statistics show that we are once again in an era in which goalies are dominant.

Consider the following stats this season:
– A total of 12 qualified goalies have a save percentage higher than .920
– Only three qualified goalies have a save percentage lower than .900
– Ten qualified goalies have a goals-against average lower than 2.20
– Just five qualified goalies have a goals-against average higher than 3.00

Compare those numbers to the 2005-06 season, the year after the lockout and the so-called end of the dead puck era:
– Only four qualified goalies had a save percentage higher than .920
– A total of 20 qualified goalies had a save percentage lower than .900
– A total of 17 qualified goalies had a goals-against average higher than 3.00
– Only three qualified goalies had a goals-against average lower than 2.20

For fantasy owners, this means that the bar has to be adjusted when evaluating a goalie. For example, a 2.50 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage used to be acceptable in fantasy, but now those ratios appear to be the threshold for lower-tier numbers. But if the NHL decides to tweak the game again in an attempt to improve scoring, will those numbers once again be considered strong?

Now, on to the possible starts and sits for the week, which of course depend on your league scoring and settings.


Joonas Korpisalo, Columbus Blue Jackets (@ BOS, @ DET, vs. NJ, vs. FLA)
Korpisalo has started 12 consecutive games for Columbus, with the chance for four more this week. Don’t be deterred by the fact that he is a Blue Jackets goalie – Korpisalo has a 2.37 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage since Jan. 25. (For more stats like this, check out the Dobber Player Profiles.) Head coach John Tortorella is known for playing his top players more than the average coach, so expect Korpisalo to continue to play a lot until Sergei Bobrovsky returns from injury… again.

Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks (@ STL, @ COL, vs. BUF, @ VAN)
Jones and the Sharks have the luxury of facing three bottom-third offences this week (St. Louis, Buffalo, Vancouver). If you’re concerned about the Sharks playing three road games, what if we told you that the Sharks have a 20-9-2 record away from the Shark Tank?

The only back-to-back game during the week is on Sunday in Vancouver, with the Sharks heading home to play Montreal to start the following week. Alex Stalock (with his brutal .884 save percentage) only starts an average of two times a month, so Jones could also be in for a four-start week.

Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes (vs. PHI, @ TOR, vs. BOS, vs. STL)
Back from injury, Ward has a golden opportunity to help fantasy rosters. Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said on Friday, “We’re going to ride a guy and it’ll be Cam.”

He knows Ward has played well, as the veteran goalie has a very respectable 10-4-0 record with a 2.20 goals-against average since the beginning of December. Also to Ward’s benefit: The Hurricanes face three bottom-third offences, so the possibility of multiple wins is there for the taking for Ward this week.


Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks (vs. NSH, vs. WSH)
The Hawks had numerous four-game weeks earlier in the season, but now they are paying the price by having played more games than any other team (62). Between Thursday, Feb. 18 and Tuesday, March 1, Chicago plays just three times.

Crawford has been stellar this season, but his ability to contribute this week is limited. Included for Crawford is a tough matchup (and possible Stanley Cup Final preview) with the Washington Capitals. If you do use Crawford, he will need to be better than he was during Sunday’s Stadium Series game in Minnesota, where he was pulled after allowing four goals in two periods.

Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins (@ BOS, vs. WPG)
Like Crawford and the Blackhawks, Fleury and the Penguins play a two-game week. One of those games happens to be against a strong Bruins offence that happens to be third in the NHL with an average of 3.00 goals per game. Start Fleury if you need to, but a three- or four-game week would be more ideal for his owners.

Ryan Miller, Vancouver Canucks (vs. OTT, vs. SJ)
The Canucks can’t seem to win at all lately. Heading into Sunday night’s matchup with Colorado, they had lost four consecutive games (all at 5-2, believe it or not). If you think home cooking will help the Canucks, consider that entering Sunday’s game they had lost six consecutive games at Rogers Arena.

Jacob Markstrom may also be due for a start this week, which would make Miller’s ability to post wins for fantasy rosters very limited.

Remember, Goalie Post is your NHL fantasy hockey resource for up-to-the-minute goalie starts and more!