Brush the Bodies Away

Justin Goldman




Did you see the thread I started last Sunday in the School of Block forums about Roberto Luongo and the main issues surrounding his slow start? If you didn't, I highly suggest reading it, because over the last week, it has been proven that crease crashing and traffic in front of the net – and subsequently a goalie's depth in the crease – is a major factor in fantasy goaltending so far this season.


Although it may not directly impact your goalie's value in every game, the dynamics of overall net presence and depth in the net must be understood in order to make even better fantasy goaltending decisions. Do your goalies challenge shooters effectively? Do they get run into more than once or twice a game? Are they complacent, or do they have a fierce side to them? And how strong are the defensive efforts in front of said goalie?


Simply put, the goalies that can effectively combat the rough-and-tumble physical nature of games will be more confident and comfortable in the crease, thus making them less of a liability for your lineup. Those that cannot will be more prone to struggling with their rhythm and having an off night. I discussed last week how depth in the net could affect a goalie's rhythm, so I'll quickly touch on crease-crashing and how that impacts a goalie's momentum as well.


The best way a goalie can fend off traffic and crease-crashing is by being fierce and establishing a presence at the top of their crease. By far the best example of this right now is Craig Anderson. He makes it an obvious point to shove or swipe at any forward that continually crashes him or tries to get in his way. Although he has a weak defensive corps in front of him, Anderson refuses to let contact hinder him from playing high in the crease and he will fight back whenever it's necessary. He's fierce and has an attitude, but he also stays composed and focused on the puck.  And as you can see, it's working to perfection.


On Saturday against Detroit, along with Anderson's insane 48-save performance, I noticed he forcefully pushed Holmstrom in the back close to 20 times. It was very effective in creating some space for him to get his pads on the ice without any interference. Ironically, the only goal he allowed was when Kris Draper was crashing the crease and pushing a loose puck underneath his pads. It was an unfortunate goal against, but a good lesson learned. Anderson also does an excellent job of using his lanky size to look around forwards and get a clear view of the puck's trajectory.


Henrik Lundqvist on the other hand plays noti