Fantasy hockey: Who to sit, who to start this week

Ondrej Pavelec spoke after his shootout win over the Oilers, saying it feels good to get a win after such a long time away due to injury.

It doesn’t seem fair, either in real life or in fantasy hockey.

Connor Hellebuyck, arguably the goalie waiver-wire pickup of the year, was sent down to the AHL on Friday in order to make room for Ondrej Pavelec.

If contract situations weren’t a factor, Hellebuyck probably could have kept the starting job, or at least would have been allowed to stay with the big club. With a 2.34 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage, Hellebuyck has been one of the Jets’ few bright spots in 2015-16.

Maybe it’s for the better, though. Since Jan. 10, Hellebuyck has struggled with a 2.99 goals-against average and a .893 save percentage. (For more custom date ranges for goalies, you’ll want to try the Dobber Hockey Goalie Calculator.)

Hellebuyck should be able to find his game in the AHL, where he earned a .927 save percentage in 10 games for a struggling Manitoba Moose team.

Either way, expect Hellebuyck to be back next season, if not sooner. Jets coach Paul Maurice didn’t rule out the possibility of Hellebuyck returning this season, saying that he would be assigned “for the near term.”

As for Pavelec, is he a viable replacement in fantasy? Are there other goalies that fantasy owners should target for the near term, as in this week?

Let’s find out.

Frederik Andersen, ANA (@CGY, @EDM, @VAN, vs. CGY)
Even before John Gibson was injured during Saturday’s game, Andersen was the goalie of record in five of the Ducks’ past seven games. Andersen and the surging Ducks play four games this week against Pacific Division opponents below them in the standings.

With back-to-backs on Monday and Tuesday in Alberta, Anton Khudobin could see a start, although he has been shaky this season (2.70 goals-against average, .908 save percentage). But Andersen has the opportunity to earn multiple wins this week.

Jonas Hiller, CGY (vs. ANA, vs. MIN, vs. VAN, @ANA)
With Karri Ramo on IR, Hiller should take over as the Flames’ starting goalie for the foreseeable future. Prior to a 4-1 loss in Arizona on Friday, Hiller had earned three consecutive wins. He could earn more along with some solid play against the Wild and Canucks – two teams that are struggling to score right now.

Hiller could theoretically play four games since the Flames don’t play any back-to-backs. But keep an eye on recent callup Joni Ortio, who has been the odd man out in the Flames’ crease.

Kari Lehtonen, DAL (@NSH, @STL, @ARI, vs. BOS)
Sometimes we are wrong, and we are not afraid to admit it. Last week Lehtonen was selected as a possible sit, but then proceeded to record three consecutive wins with a .927 save percentage. (For more goalie splits like this one, check out the Frozen Pool Profiles).

This week’s schedule happens to be a more desirable one, with four games against mid-level to bottom-tier offences. Antti Niemi will probably start one of the back-to-backs on Monday against Nashville or Tuesday against St. Louis, but the Stars have been winning more often lately with Lehtonen.

Ondrej Pavelec, WPG (@CAR, @TB, @FLA)
Let’s focus on Hellebuyck’s replacement now. Before his injury, Pavelec posted a 2.82 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage. In this day and age, those numbers simply don’t cut it. Granted, Pavelec stopped 21 of 22 shots in earning the win in his return to the lineup on Saturday against Edmonton. However, the Jets go on the road this week for three games in the Southeast, which is not the pushover territory that it was when the Jets were the Thrashers. If contracts didn’t matter, Pavelec probably wouldn’t be an NHL starting goalie.

Joonas Korpisalo, CLS (vs. BOS, vs. BUF)
A Columbus injury replacement goalie may seem obvious here, but it’s worth pointing out that the Blue Jackets are the only team to play just two games this week. Korpisalo has actually been pretty good recently, posting wins in seven of his past nine starts with a 2.18 goals-against average and .935 save percentage over that stretch.

But Korpisalo has appeared in the Jackets’ last 10 games and might be due for a rest. That break could happen this week, which would minimize his effectiveness over a seven-day scoring period.

Jonathan Quick, LA (@WSH, @STL, @NSH)
Quick has returned to practice, although he did not play Sunday against New Jersey. Even if he is ready to return this week, the Kings are playing the last three games of a seven-game road trip – not an ideal place for him to return. In limited action this season, Jhonas Enroth has been decent (2.19 goal-against average, .926 save percentage) and could still serve as a short-term pickup if Quick continues to be sidelined. But with a Tuesday game against the powerful Capitals, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.

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