An in-depth look at how to better evaluate goalie statistics in your hockey pool
Nothing about fantasy hockey frustrates me more than attempting to evaluate goaltenders and predict their future performance.
I understand the importance of the position. Is it possible to win your league without at least solid production from your netminders? I don't think so. Consider the standard statistical categories used in many fantasy hockey leagues: goals, assists, plus-minus, penalty minutes, power play points, shots on goal, wins, save percentage, goals-against average and shutouts. Now think about the difference between the number of skaters and goaltenders on a typical fantasy hockey team and which categories each position affects. It's pretty obvious that astute fantasy owners cannot overlook an ineffective group of goaltenders for long if they want to have sustained success over the course of a season.
However, there's a problem: the best and most informed predictions of how a goalie will perform are educated guesses, and even the most trusted netminders are virtually guaranteed to let you down from time to time. Ask anyone who employed Jonathan Quick this past season.
Not all that long ago, I was an advocate of using early-round draft picks to select one or more of that year's top-rated goaltenders. That changed following the performances turned in by Roberto Luongo and Niklas Backstrom during the 2009-10 campaign.
I used my second and third round picks in one 12-team rotisserie league to snag Luongo and Backstrom. My goal was to dominate the goals-against average and save percentage categories (perhaps wins as well) and be competitive in the rest of the categories. That did not happen. Here are their fantasy-relevant numbers from that season and the one prior: