Wild Things

Justin Goldman




Nothing is constant, nothing is pure, nothing comes easy and nothing is for sure. In almost every game so far this season, goalies have been prone to more bad bounces, heavy collisions, puck mishandlings or lop-sided shot totals than I care to remember. Whether it was Craig Anderson battling with Patric Hornqvist in Nashville, Mike Smith being nearly decapitated by Jamie Langenbrunner's knee, the "Khabi-boo-boo" mishap against Calgary or Carey Price punching a hole in the wall after a 7-1 loss in Vancouver, I've learned it's time once again to expect the unexpected.


Although I've enjoyed watching the elevated pace and speed of these games, it has terrorized goalies. Without any statistical evidence to back me up, it leads me to believe that scoring is slightly up so far. There's more traffic around the net than usual and a lot more re-directed shots coming from players standing on either side of the posts. Players aren't afraid to just throw the puck on net and force rebounds against rusty or unsuspecting goalies. As a result, it has opened Pandora's Box for fantasy managers because the decisions on which goalies to start are tougher than ever.


One of the reasons for this is due to the Olympics. More backups will play on a more consistent basis this year because minutes will be managed more effectively with the elite starters. Another reason decisions are tougher is because more teams are relying on two goalies to win games on any given night. Whether it's the tandem in Nashville, Florida, Anaheim or Ottawa, coaches are not afraid to prove the fact they actually have two #1 goalies.


But instead of looking at this dynamic as a negative thing, I'll help you twist it into a positive and take advantage of lazy or incoherent managers. I've already benefitted from situations in which I read a goalie's rising momentum over the course of two or three games and then adjust my roster and daily lineup accordingly.


To be as straightforward as possible (which is impossible for me, I know…), instead of just drafting or acquiring the highest-ranked goalie or the one expected to play the most and then riding him through thick and thin, I think it's more effective to track capable backups and jump from one to the next throughout the course of the season.


By tracking, I simply mean that you reserve a certain number of moves strictly for goaltenders. As one lesser-known goalie rises and another falls, you catch and release accordingly. Think of it as jumping from peak to peak, as opposed to riding waves up and down over the course of a season. You might already be strong at tracking goalies effectively, but regardless, there's always room to improve your decision making process.


A lot of your strategy will depend on your league's setup. Do you have enough (or unlimited) moves to acquire maybe 4-