Playing the splits with Varlamov and Mason, Simmonds done for the year, Sean Burke’s impact and more…
I know that the use of split stats can be a highly contentious issue but I really feel as though when used properly they can have an extraordinary impact on your fantasy roster. Consider the example of last night with Steve Mason skating at home versus a juggernaut in the Blackhawks while Semyon Varlamov was taking on a lemon on the road in Edmonton. Check out the split stats for these two and tell me how you think last night went:
Home – 15-5-4 – 1.93 GAA – .938 Save%
Road – 1-12-6 – 2.64 GAA – .912 Save%
Home – 15-8-1 – 2.19 GAA – .928 Save%
Road – 10-10-7 – 2.92 GAA – .915 Save%
If you guessed that Mason would hold the struggling Blackhawk offense to just one goal while Varlamov got dusted for three goals on seven shots less than 10 minutes into the game against the surging Oilers offense well then you nailed it. To be fair, this is an extreme example but its proof that micromanaging your roster can work and is a way to take advantage of undervalued assets like Mason and Varlamov. Only throw these two out for home games and you've built yourself a Carey Price out of magic.
The main criticism against this sort of strategy is that single-season trends aren't necessarily predictive, especially if you pick up on something like this half-way through a season and a goalie has played only 30-40 starts (so only 10-20 at home or road each), which isn't much of a sample size to work with. I'd agree with that but it's impossible to ignore that teams just play better at home than on the road over a large enough sample size and that can be generalized for starting goaltenders. So if you see a trend emerging in that direction you can approach it with some confidence. It also helps if the goaltenders' career numbers support this trend and for Mason and Varlamov they do:
Home – 95-67-17 – 2.53 GAA – .914 Save%
Road – 53-69-27 – 2.95 GAA – .904 Save%
Home – 77-41-15 – 2.25 GAA – .925 Save%
Road – 56-50-18 – 2.86 GAA – .911 Save%
These are some extreme examples but I'm not really talking about a strict adherence to such a strategy, it's just another tool to holster in your belt if the time is right. Obviously there will be plenty of situations where you need to skate your goalie regardless of home/road split, particularly in head-to-head leagues. This strategy is much better for rotisserie leagues where the home/road splits can really average out over a large sample and glean your advantage.
Certainly, this strategy could lead to putting bad performances into your lineup and sitting some good ones. The idea is to get the better odds over a larger sample, which should help in your decision making, which can be a real challenge some nights.
Wayne Simmonds was kind enough to give fantasy owners a nice parting gift, a goal, before finishing his season. He along with Andrew MacDonald were hurt last night and