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Sunday's Daily Puck: Backup Bonanza

Dan Waldner

Dan Waldner

Dan Waldner covers hockey for RotoWire, and has been involved in fantasy hockey pools for 15 years. He's a lifetime Toronto Maple Leafs fan, a passion his wife puts up with and his daughter is starting to emulate.

Sunday Daily Puck – Backup Bonanza

Around the Rink

The one thing that has really surprised me this season has been the unlikely emergence of a number of second- and third-string goalies around the league. This has been a fantasy GMs dream – many of us who drafted poor goaltending are being roundly rewarded with fantastic waiver pickups that many of us figured were flashes in the pan.

At the beginning of the season, Minnesota’s goaltending job clearly belonged to Niklas Backstrom. A combination of poor play and injury opened the door to Josh Harding whose play has left little doubt that he is the de facto starter now. His 18-5-3 3SO 1.51GAA .939SV% is one of the prime reasons why Minnesota is currently in a playoff position.

When Jonathan Quick went down to injury earlier this year, none of us – myself included – could predict that Ben Scrivens would put up the type of numbers he has (7-3-4 3SO 1.66GAA .941 SV%). Follow that up with the rapid emergence of Martin Jones, who has somehow supplanted Scrivens with a mindboggling 8-0-0 3SO 0.85GAA .971 SV%, and you have clear proof that lightning can strike the same spot twice.

Just down the road, Anaheim is finding itself with an embarrassment of riches in the crease. While Jonas Hiller has had a difficult season (15-4-4 2SO 2.43GAA / .914SV%), he is being challenged this season by the Ducks’ third-string goalie, Frederik Andersen. Andersen’s play has been so good this year (8-1-0 0SO 1.74GAA / .938SV%) there are strong indications Anaheim might try to move Hiller to let either Fasth or Andersen assume the number one role.

Fantasy GMs take note: if you have poor goaltending, there’s gold to be found in your free agent pools. Just keep your ear to the ground for injuries or poor play, and there may just be a backup waiting for his chance to shine.

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)

For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid

Minnesota Wild (Niklas Backstrom) at New York Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist), 7:30 PM

Winnipeg Jets (Ondrej Pavelec) at Vancouver Canucks (Roberto Luongo), 8:00 PM

Injury News For Teams Playing Sunday

Minnesota Wild

Mikael Granlund, C - Granlund (concussion) practiced again Saturday but is still awaiting clearance to return to action Sunday vs. the Rangers, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. (12/21/2013)

Josh Harding, G - Harding was placed on injured reserve Wednesday due to a new change in the treatment protocol for his multiple sclerosis. (12/18/2013)

New York Rangers

Marc Staal, D - Staal (concussion) has been working out off the ice the last three days. (12/13/2013)

Ryan Callahan, RW - Callahan (knee) was placed on injured reserve Thursday, TSN.ca reports. (12/12/2013)

Winnipeg Jets

Anthony Peluso, RW - Peluso has been suspended three games for his hit on the Stars' Alex Goligoski on Saturday, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports. (12/15/2013)

Jim Slater, C - Slater (sports hernia) resumed skating Thursday morning, Ed Tait of the Winnipeg Free Press reports. (12/5/2013)

Matt Halischuk, RW - Halischuk (forearm) was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 14 by the Jets on Monday. (12/16/2013)

Grant Clitsome, D - Clitsome (undisclosed) will not play Friday vs. the Panthers. (12/20/2013)

Paul Postma, D - Postma (blood clot) took part in some light skating at Wednesday's practice, according to TSN's Sara Orlesky. (12/12/2013)

Vancouver Canucks

Jordan Schroeder, C - Schroeder (ankle) had successful surgery on his broken ankle in early November and is expected to return in eight-to-nine weeks,News 1130 reports. (11/5/2013)

Ryan Stanton, D - Coach John Tortorella said Stanton would miss multiple weeks with an ankle injury, Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun reports. (12/19/2013)

Alexandre Burrows, RW - Updating a previous report, Burrows underwent successful surgery on a broken jaw Monday and will be out for four weeks,News 1130 reports. (12/3/2013)

Alexander Edler, D - Edler is out indefinitely with what is now being reported as a knee injury, Team 1040 reports. (12/6/2013)

Hot

Mark Scheifele C, WPG – Prior to the start of the season, I had him pegged as a Calder finalist – I believe I called him this year’s Nazem Kadri. While his performance has been good for a rookie – 6G 11A 17P in 37GP - it certainly hasn’t been awe-inspiring. The last three games, however, have seen him perform as I had hoped, registering three goals and two assists, a +3, 2PIM and 7SOG – a complete effort. The next few weeks will tell us if this is his emergence or simply a hot streak.

Evander Kane LW, WPG – If the Winnipeg Jets were to have any expectation of making the playoffs this year, everybody was expecting that it would be on the back of Evander Kane. Unfortunately, to this point in the season, he has largely been a disappointment. With only 9G 9A 18P in 29GP, Kane’s performance has reflected that of the entire team; the bright side, however, is that he’s heating up. With four points in his last three games, and five points in his last six, there’s hope that he might finally be ready to perform. Better late than never.

Chris Kreider LW, NYR – While his team is currently in the depths of a brutal losing streak, Kreider continues to be a bright point for the Rangers. With two points in his last three games, a +2 and 8PIM, Kreider’s continued all-around play has been something to build on, even though the Rangers have lost six of their last seven.

Cold

Roberto Luongo G, VAN – His last start was pretty rough – after letting in four goals against Dallas, he was pulled in favor of backup Eddie Lack. Against Minnesota before that, he only allowed two goals, but still lost in overtime. Compare that against his understudy’s performance in his last start – a 3-2 24-save shootout win against the always difficult Chicago Blackhawks. Coach John Tortorella may decide to run with the hot hand in Lack if Luongo shows more difficulty.

Andrew Shaw C, CHI – Since his emergence in 2011-2012, Shaw has provided the combination of grit, defensive responsibility and scoring touch that bolstered the Chicago third line. Of late though, he’s lost his game. He hasn’t recorded a point in four games. During that stretch he has 6PIM, a +0 and only a handful of shots. Compare that to earlier in the year where he was scoring, taking penalties and putting up both shots and a healthy +/-. He’s definitely in the midst of a cold streak.

Dany Heatley W, MIN – My, how the mighty have fallen. In his prime (and only a few years ago at that), he was considered an elite sniper in the league, but of late, he’s been anything but. With only 11 points this season, he’s been a disappointment for the Wild, and that’s been even more evident in the last ten games where he has only two points and is a -3 for the stretch. He’s been demoted to the fourth line, and we don’t know if or when he’ll get promoted.

Recommended Pickup

Mark Scheifele C, WPG – It would seem rather disingenuous if I recommended anybody else, wouldn’t it? Not only is he currently red hot with the aforementioned five points in three games, but he’s elevating the game of the line mates around him – he, Michael Frolik and Evander Kane have registered 12 points in the last three games combined. He’s also criminally under-owned (currently at 8%) which makes him the ideal daily pickup. Grab him from the Free Agent pool and see if his streak will extend to today.