Flames Goaltending Controversy, Impressive Goalie Starts, Marchand Racking Up PIM

In a game in which I was hoping there’d be more scoring for fantasy purposes, Ben Bishop stopped all 23 shots he faced in the Stars’ 1-0 win over Boston on Friday. The shutout was his first since his 30-save blanking of Arizona on the Stars’ opening night. Bishop rebounded nicely from his last start nearly a week ago where he allowed five goals to Nashville.

At the other end of the ice, Tuukka Rask made his first start since taking a leave of absence just over a week ago. Although he did not earn the win, the results were encouraging as he stopped 36 of 37 shots. This might be a good time to buy low on him, as he sputtered in October and November last season before his game really took off in December. Jaroslav Halak allowed six goals in his last start, so this might be the time where his ratios start falling back to earth.

Brad Marchand’s night went a little something like this:

In other words, drawing a penalty on Marchand is now a piece of cake because of his reputation. I thought this level of acting could only be seen in a soccer match, and Marchand isn't the one doing the acting. However, Marchand should be happy he only received a 10-minute misconduct for the towel gesture. Roger Neilson was given a game misconduct when he pulled that in the 1982 playoffs.

All in all, Marchand racked up 18 minutes in penalties in this game. He is now your penalty minutes leader with 66, a full 27 ahead of the next-highest player. Needless to say, I’m kicking some serious butt in the PIM category in one of my head-to-head leagues, since I own both Marchand and Tom Wilson. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for most of the rest of my other categories this week.


Another one-for-one swap of forwards was made today, with Ryan Spooner headed to the Oilers and Ryan Strome to the Rangers. You can read my Fantasy Take. The summary: I wouldn’t rush to the waiver wire for either player.


Jeff Skinner is on fire. With a goal on Friday, Skinner now has a four-game goal streak in which he has scored five goals. He’s also now pulled into second place in the Rocket Richard race with 14 goals, three behind leader David Pastrnak. Skinner is also shooting at an amazing 21.2% clip on the season, which as you might guess is well above his career average. I like his value going forward for the chemistry he has found with Jack Eichel. But if you were able to acquire an elite player for Skinner, would you not pull the trigger?

Blake Wheeler was one of many players held off the scoresheet in what was an evening where the goalies seemed to outperform the scorers. Wheeler’s point streak now ends at 11 games. He scored 20 points (2g-18a) during that span.


It was such a great night for the goalies, you would have been successful if you decided to roll the dice with an LA Kings starting goalie. Cal Petersen stopped 34 of 35 shots he faced to backstop the Kings to a 2-1 shootout win over the Blackhawks in a match of teams with new coaches. The win was Petersen’s first in the NHL, and it may not have happened had Peter Budaj not caught the flu. I’m not sure that I’d grab the Kings’ rookie goalie, but I suppose he’s at least worth keeping an eye on.  


Ryan O’Reilly is loving life in St. Louis, especially since he’s now on the top line. O’Reilly scored twice in the Blues’ 4-1 win over Vegas. Linemates Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz assisted on both of O’Reilly’s goals. ROR recently had a 10-game point streak snapped, but with 23 points already in just 17 games, he might be on his way to a career season. That point total also leads the Blues – maybe by more than you’d think.   

Brayden Schenn returned from injury on Friday, scoring his first goal in seven games. He played on a line with Robby Fabbri and Tyler Bozak.

Another name to add to the list of impressive goaltending starts, because I know this name will grab the attention of some of you: Jake Allen. The beleaguered Blues’ netminder stopped 32 of 33 shots he faced in earning the win, which was his first in just over two weeks (which was also against Vegas). It might not make you fully confident in Allen, but at least it’s a step in the right direction if you’ve been patient all this time.


With his overtime winner on Friday, Morgan Rielly now has a five-game point streak in which he has recorded seven points (3g-4a). Given how hot Rielly has been all season, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he is leading all defensemen in both goals (9) and points (25).


There were a couple of good answers from yesterday’s Ramblings about which goalie is better: Scott Darling or David Rittich. The question eventually turned toward how bad Mike Smith has been, mentioning the game-winning goal he allowed on Thursday. Smith has been guilty of allowing numerous brutal and untimely goals this season. Here is the footage of that deflating goal, which squeaked past his legs (you can stick around to watch the melee that ensued afterward):

You should not be starting Smith right now. How bad are his numbers? Well, among 51 goalies that have played at least six games, Smith is 50th with a .876 SV% (only Calvin Pickard’s save percentage is worse). Smith’s 3.48 GAA is a little better (relatively speaking) at 43rd, but you get the idea. There’s a strong possibility that this is an age-related decline, as Smith is now 36 years of age.

Among that same group of goalies, David Rittich’s 1.91 GAA is second (only Pekka Rinne is better), while his .935 SV% is third. No one would have assumed that Smith was Vezina Trophy caliber, but it doesn’t make any sense that he has started three of the last four games for the Flames. Not with this much of a disparity between the numbers. I’m not sure if Rittich is the long-term answer in net for the Flames, but he’s at least worth a go while he’s hot.

If a player has been out-of-his-mind impressive/poor for much of a season, it’s worthwhile to go back to last season to find out whether the run of good/bad play extends further. So dating back to February 1 of last season, Smith has a ghastly 3.54 GAA and .876 SV% in 29 games. So he’s been downright terrible for the equivalent of half a season. Never mind benching him – I would consider dropping him outright if I owned him. Smith is owned in 65 percent of Yahoo leagues, while Rittich is only owned in 29 percent.  

Oh, and to answer the original question, I’d go with Rittich. I think it’s only a matter of time before he receives more starts, if you’re worried about volume. I know money dictates a lot of decisions (Smith earns $4.25 million; Rittich earns $800,000), but if the Flames fancy themselves to be a playoff team in a Pacific Division that isn’t overly strong to begin with, they’ll eventually have to focus on performance.  


Finally, in this night of goalies, a goalie goal from the WHL!


For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.