We have a new guest columnist today – Gus Katsaros, McKeen’s Hockey – Fantasy Hockey Expert.
It takes a special personality, character and mental make-up of an individual to willfully allow someone to blast a piece of galvanized rubber directly at them.
It takes an even more special person to keep coming up with ways to keep the disk from getting passed them.
Goaltending can make or break a hockey team, witnessed by such performances by tenders as Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff, and Buffalo’s Ryan Miller. The inverse sees twine-minders struggling with soft goals and inferior stats, such as Toronto’s Andrew Raycroft. Martin Gerber lost his starting role in Ottawa.
But really, who cares? This is fantasy, show me the numbers and I’ll activate you, it’s as simple as that. Potential doesn’t win fantasy leagues.
Those in keeper leagues within reach of the pinnacle of fantasy, the Championships, could see their hopes die if a heavy weighting in the goaltending category.
Johan Holmqvist has 15 wins in 25 games, while prized acquisition Marc Denis hasn’t fared as well, with 11 wins in 29 games. The number of games alone indicates the dissatisfaction of the revolving door approach of Lightning coach John Tortorella. Neither goaltender has run away with the title in Tampa Bay – Holmqvist won five straight starts in November and again in January, and struggled at other times. This indicates trouble for fantasy owners with either tender and wanting to make a run. If they are splitting games, neither can catch fire. As soon as one has a bad game, he is replaced. Fantasy owners could look at trying to get some trade value or suffer through mediocrity down the stretch.
A team like the San Jose Sharks who don’t have actual problems with goaltending, but the revolving door effect wreaks havoc on fantasy owners of either of their two world-class goaltenders, Vesa Toskala and Evgeni Nabokov. With 20 wins in 27 games played, Toskala (2.25 GAA, .915 SV%) seems like a no-brainer. When the $5 million back-up that has virtually identical numbers like Nabakov (2.27 GAA, .916 SV%) is pulling off 12 wins in 24 games, it frustrates owners of Toskala.
Two factors will determine both netminders fates this season.