DobberHockey introduces a new a feature column into the fold. School of Block will give you the fantasy spin on the latest goaltending news from around the league. Justin Goldman of the Hockey Guild will pen the piece.
FOR THOSE ABOUT TO BLOCK, WE SALUTE YOU!
Let's take a look at the Western Conference situation between the pipes…
ANAHEIM: Three’s a crowd for the champs.
J.S. Giguere is a butterfly robot, so if he stays “oiled up”, i.e. hydrated, he’ll get close to 40 wins this year. Swiss native Jonas Hiller has a massive incentive-laden contract (up to $3.2 million) to backup Jiggy, but Ilya Bryzgalov is still lurking around. Expect Hiller to start in the AHL until “Bryz” goes bye-bye.
CALGARY: Kipper’s fine but who is next in line?
Miikka Kiprusoff will play close to 70 games this year, but who will back him up? Right now it’s Brent Krahn’s job to lose over Curtis McElhinny. Krahn is an absolute beast at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds and uses his size very well, so he should win this battle if he stays healthy.
CHICAGO: The Bulin Wall is re-built!
Nikolai Khabibulin will improve statistically this year and play a ton of minutes, so with names like Kipper, Luongo, Hasek and Brodeur, “The Bulin Wall” could be a real steal. Patrick Lalime and his infamous hero-to-zero story will keep him in a subterranean world of nearly non-existent playing time.
COLORADO: Budaj gets more scoring support.
Peter Budaj has an incredible work ethic and “athleticism” is no longer his only forte – now he has solid fundamentals to boot. He’s strong enough to play 65-70 games, so he’ll win close to 40 this season.
COLUMBUS: Leclaire is on thin ice.
Pascal Leclaire failed to take advantage of yet another season of opportunities after tearing the meniscus in his left knee, which begs the question of just how many more chances the Quebec native has until Fredrik Norrena takes over for good.
DALLAS: Turco to continue regular season tyranny.
Marty Turco will display more of his regular season dominance, especially since he is one of the most proficient shootout goaltenders in the league. Mike Smith is a stellar young backup with great size, poise and determination and will challenge the streaky Turco for minutes if the Stars start to slip.
DETROIT: Hasek’s back and Ozzie’s ready.
There’s no reason to believe that Dominik Hasek will stay as healthy as he did last season. Coupled with veteran Chris Osgood, the tandem has more experience and career wins than any other duo in the league. Osgood will put up silent and strong numbers if Hasek gets hurt, so if your starter is The Dominator, go ahead and draft Ozzie.