Shots on Goal: Time-Share Update
By Peter Maingot
It's time to take a look at those teams employing a time-share in nets. These situations are as liquid as your company's Christmas party so it's good to stay up to date and drink a glass of water before hitting the sack.
It's getting to the point where we may not even include the Thrashers among the list of time-share teams, as Ondrej Pavelec is the consensus No. 1 goalie for Atlanta now after reeling off 9 wins in his last 11 starts. Offseason addition Chris Mason will have to be patient but those in one-year leagues may want to cut bait on Mason now.
Tim Thomas has five December starts to Tuukka Rask's one start. The numbers back up the ratio as Thomas is 3-0-2 in December with a GAA under 1.40. Moreover the worst save percentage in any of those five starts was .933. Rask won his only start but it was against the Islanders, a team that has but one win in its last 21 games.
The Bruins are running at full capacity on offense now with serious strength down the middle - Marc Savard, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron. Few teams, if any, can boast the talent level that Boston enjoys at center. The defense is another matter entirely, though, as the Bruins are missing Mark Stuart and just recently traded Matt Hunwick. Adam McQuaid and Steve Kampfer are now the 5-6 guys after Chara, Seidenberg, Boychuk, and Ference. McQuaid is a stay-at-home Canadian D-man with size (6-5, 209) while the American Kampfer (5-10, 188) has more of an offensive game. Kampfer was second overall in team scoring for Providence of the AHL when he was recalled, first among defensemen, and first overall in assists. He was sixth in scoring among all AHL D-men with 16 points and his plus-10 was also impressive. The two kids have help up nicely so far. McQuaid is plus-1 in 16 games with 26 PIMs and 27 blocked shots while Kampfer is even after two games with four blocked shots and four shots on goal. While McQuaid is averaging 10:44 of ice per game, the stat is skewed as he had to leave his last game early due to a cheap shot by Jody Shelley. Kampfer is averaging 14:25 of ice time per game. It will take another five weeks for the ring finger Mark Stuart's right hand to heal. So far the Bruins' defense has held up but one wonders if they can continue to be so stingy playing with only four proven defensemen.
Corey Crawford is vastly outplaying Marty Turco at this point. Crawford is 7-0-1 in his last eight starts with a 2.13 GAA while Turco is 2-4-1 in his last eight starts - Turco was pulled in his last start and thus avoided getting tagged with the loss. Of greater concern/dismay to Turco owners is how his level of play has tanked since his shutout over lowly Edmonton (currently ranked 27th out of 30 teams). In Turco's four starts since beating Edmonton Turco has posted these GAA numbers: 7.03, 4.09, 3.00, 11.61. The 18 goals allowed in his last 200 minutes equates to a 5.41 GAA in his last four starts.
We expressed concern over how the offense was going to survive the temporary losses of both Patrick Kane (leg) and Marian Hossa (lower-body injury) but they've actually scored five goals twice over their past four games. Chicago's killer B's have stepped up: Troy Brouwer and Bryan Bickell each three goals and four points in their last four games. The third killer B, David Bolland, had two goals and four points in three games before suffering a lower-body injury against the Sharks on Dec.11. Bolland is day-to-day. While Hossa only skated Monday for the first time since his injury, there is a chance that Kane could return by the weekend.
Steve Mason was pulled after just four minutes in his most recent start. Four minutes. Mason allowed two goals on four shots. That's a 27.17 GAA and .500 SV %. Yikes! Mathieu Garon faces the unenviable task of having to face Vancouver on Wednesday. Garon, whose stats crush Mason's (for example, Garon has a 1.94 GAA vs. Mason's 3.06 GAA), should start seeing the lion's share of starts until he falters but he won't because Mason is their golden boy. Mason has one win in his last six starts while Garon is 5-3 in his last eight starts. The Jackets, who still need another offensive defenseman, should be bolstered up front by the impending return of Kristian Huselius - a huge upgrade over the recently sent down Nikita Filatov.
Nikolai Khabibulin is 3-1-1 since his return from injury with an impressive 1.99 GAA. Unfortunately the loss was in their most recent game against the equally inept Leafs. With their No. 1 center Shawn Horcoff (MCL, seven weeks) and their No. 1 right wing Ales Hemsky (groin, three weeks) out until 2011, the Oilers' offense is in trouble. Yes, Edmonton scored four goals in their first game after losing Horcoff to injury but that was against Tampa Bay, who boasts perhaps the worst goaltending duo in the entire league. Steer clear of any Oilers goalie until Horcs and Hemmer return.
Anders Lindback continues to shine during the absence of the Predators' top goalie Pekka Rinne. Lindback has back-to-back shutouts and not lost in regulation time yet as an NHL goalie. Amazingly, the big rookie Swede is 7-1-2 in 10 starts with a 2.18 GAA and .930 SV %. While the Preds struggle to score nightly their blue line is doing yeoman's work lately and also chipping in offensively. In their most recent win four of their six D-men registered points. Moreover, in their last two games five of their six D-men each scored at least one point and the defense as a whole has combined for 10 points in the that two-game span.
It's getting depressing having to mention the Islanders in each column. They've lost 20 of 21 games. If Dwayne Roloson gets traded, feel free to pick him up but leave him be for now. Move on people.
Brian Elliott has one win in his last eight starts while Pascal Leclaire is 2-2 in his last four starts. The Senators are stuck personnel wise, as their older players (Alfredsson, Gonchar, Kovalev) are all 37-38 years old with huge contracts making them impossible to move. To make matters far worse is the fact that the younger players expected to take on a larger scoring role this season, such Nick Foligno and Peter Regin, have instead regressed. Then there's Milan Michalek, a man making $4.25 million who has but six goals and 11 points in 28 games. Incredibly, Michalek's current deal tops out at $6 million in 2013-2014! Bottom line: no Senators goalie can be counted as anything more than a No. 3 fantasy goalie and we hope your first two guys are really good.
The Philly goalie situation has been like a soap opera over the past decade and this season apparently is no different. Just when we all figured that Sergei Bobrovsky was the Flyers goalie to own, Brian Boucher proceeds to win three straight, including a huge 3-2 win at cross-state rivals Pittsburgh on Tuesday thereby snapping the hated Pens' 12-game winning streak. Michael Leighton is back after going 1-3 for the horrid Adirondack Phantoms - statistically the worst team in the AHL. Leighton's play was less than inspiring but the real test will come when he gets into an NHL game. Bobrovsky owners who aren't long on Boucher or Leighton have to be nervous at this point, as the possibility now exists that Bob could be sent down in the short term while the Flyers try to move one of their veterans. However, if Leighton bombs in his first few starts then he could be buried in the minors, regardless of his playoff contributions last year.
Antti Niemi has passed Antero Niittymaki on the depth chart, as he's started seven of the last eight games for the Sharks (including Wednesday's game at Nashville). Things can change in a hurry, as we mustn't forget how the season started and how much Niemi struggled. Niittymaki owners will have to wait it out for the time being.
Harsh as it may seem some pundits refer to Mike Smith as the worst goalie in the NHL. Dan Ellis has fared better but neither goalie inspires a lot of confidence. When the Bolts get Vincent Lecavalier and Steve Downie back into their lineups they will ice as formidable an offensive group as you'll find anywhere, but the goaltending will remain their Achilles' heel. That is why the rumors have started up that the Bolts are in the market for a goalie. The popular rumor du jour is that they will sign former San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov, who just left his KHL team over in Russia. If true, it may be the worth using that high waiver priority that you've been saving all season.
The Leafs are 4-3 in December and they've allowed just two goals in their past two games. That's after allowing 13 goals in their three games prior to that. This topsy-turvy season has shown us that Jean-Sebastien Giguere still has game. His 2.67 GAA is impressive when you consider how poor the Leafs defense has played for most of the season. JSG is 3-1 in December with a 1.99 GAA while Jonas Gustavsson has allowed 15 goals in his last 212 minutes which equates approximately to a 4.26 GAA.
The Caps are in free fall, losers of their last six games. It's reached the point where beat writers are suggesting trades to shore up their goaltending. The silliest is Martin Brodeur being traded to Washington. Brodeur has a no-trade clause and he's won a few Cups so we doubt he pulls a Ray Bourque and waves his NTC to move from his career-long location in pursuit of hockey's Holy Grail. We're not even sure that the goaltending is the real issue here in D.C. That seems to be a cop out as the team isn't scoring and the defense is allowing too many quality-scoring chances. They just need to return to playing up-tempo hockey emphasizing their speed and skill.
Semyon Varlamov will start against Anaheim on Wednesday, as coach Bruce Boudreau is giving him a chance to redeem himself after the 7-0 beating that he took from the Rangers last game. Michal Neuvirth owners may be wishing that the winless streak continues on Wednesday but this is a time-share for the rest of the season, or until they trade for someone like Florida's Tomas Vokoun - an impending unrestricted free agent - near the NHL deadline.