Even though the regular season is over, whatever you do, don't shut off your fantasy radar. The chance to uncover some quality goalie intel is deceptively high. In fact, you can a better feel for a goaltender's true fabric and long-term value during the playoffs than at any other point during the regular season.
FANTASY MAILBAG – APRIL 18
This is especially true for the three rookies currently battling in the first round – Corey Crawford, Michal Neuvirth and Sergei Bobrovsky. Why? Because we get to see how they perform under more pressure and against more urgent and determined opponents.
I define pressure in the playoffs as the ability to play in an unfamiliar situation where losing is simply not an option. Playing well under pressure is also a truer display of one's mental toughness. We can't see it during the regular season like we can see technique and style, so this type of intel is extremely valuable to you as a manager.
What have I learned from the first 18 games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs? The importance of understanding a goalie's demeanor. This element of their mental game bridges the gap between two worlds – the visible and invisible. You can't readily see a goalie's state of mind, but their confidence, rhythm, focus, attentiveness and work ethic all have visible results.
In that regard, realize that demeanor is really deceptive. Defined as "behavior towards others in an outward manner," demeanor is difficult to dissect when a goalie is wearing 40 pounds of pads and a bulletproof mask covering their face. But don't let that disparage you from trying.
Why do you think I've been calling Neuvirth The Great Deceiver for almost two years? When he moves, his demeanor leads people to believe he's too casual, inattentive or passive. Yet this couldn't be further from the truth. He's just an economical, minimalistic goalie that only moves when he absolutely has to. So even though he has stellar reflexes and reaction speeds, he's smart enough to rely on his solid positioning instead.
Demeanor is also deceptive because it changes at varying rates. During a game, the numerous shifts in momentum can cause a goalie to go from displaying a relaxed to a tense demeanor in just a few shots or shifts. Goals against, big saves or even the play of the opposing goalie will have an impact on demeanor.
To be honest, there are an infinite number of environmental, internal and external influences applying pressure on a goalie. How many moments or elements can you find during the course of a playoff game?
Demeanor can also slowly shift and evolve over a much longer period of time. Some goalies take a few years for their demeanor to appear more poised, confident and in control. Others only need a few months to adjust. How has Pekka Rinne calmed down since last year's playoff run? What has this year's lighter workload done to Roberto Luongo?
No matter what speed or rate demeanor changes, when it comes to observing a goalie with a quality state of mind, the ability to remain steadfast with their natural demeanor is the biggest key. It's not only a sign of steady confidence, but of high maturity as well. It's a stark difference to a goaltender that sees their confidence and poise sway to different levels on a more co