Fantasy Hockey Advice: Masters of the Universe and Waiver-Wire Goalies
The trade deadline in the NHL has passed, and in all likelihood swapping skaters is no longer allowed in your fantasy hockey league. Hopefully, particular needs were addressed before the cutoff.
Making headway in categories such as goals, assists and power play points with players off the waiver wire this late in the season is extremely difficult.
If there remains 60 point performers in your free agent pool, by the power of Grayskull, how are you not master of your fantasy hockey universe?
If not, keep combing for a miracle.
However, gaining ground in certain statistical areas can still be accomplished.
In fantasy baseball, many owners choose to plug and play unowned pitchers in a process called streaming, thereby maximizing the number of innings allowed while at the same time exploiting favorable match-ups.
In fantasy hockey, the same process can be used with goaltenders.
By no means am I advocating the releasing of stud netminders such as Niklas Backstrom or Tim Thomas.
But by dropping that roster space wasting, never used forward for one of the goalies in the short list below, your team will transform from a cowardly green Cringer into a courageous Battle Cat.
Patrick Lalime (Buffalo Sabres)
After franchise goalie Ryan Miller suffered a high ankle sprain, trade rumors quickly began to swirl about Buffalo. The Sabres supposedly were targeting veterans Manny Fernandez and Kevin Weekes to keep them in playoff contention until Miller was healthy again.
Instead, they opted to hand the reins to backup Patrick Lalime.
Many analysts believed it was an unwise decision because Lalime hasn't been a relevant goalie since leaving Ottawa four years ago.
However, Lalime has responded by going 2-2-1 after becoming the starter and posting a 1.58 goals against average (GAA) and a .949 save percentage (SV%) during that span.
Furthermore, Lalime has allowed only five goals in his last four starts.
Next week, the Sabres have tough match-ups at Philadelphia and at home vs. the Panthers and the Thrashers.
While Lalime may look like an ordinary Prince Adam against the Flyers and Florida, use Buffalo's He-Man of late with confidence when Atlanta comes to town.
Martin Gerber (Toronto Maple Leafs)
As if Toronto's situation isn't dismal enough, recently starting goalie Vesa Toskala revealed he would have season-ending hip surgery.
With nothing to lose, the Maple Leafs signed Ottawa castoff Martin Gerber to man the pipes for the remainder of a forgettable year.
In his debut in a new blue uniform, Gerber reinvented himself into a Man-at-Arms, stopping 37 of 38 shots en route to his first win of 2009. In fact, he carried a shutout until the final minute last Friday against the Capitals.
Since the Toronto goalie position is a bleak fantasy option, you must pick and choose when to play wisely. Gerber is an advisable start when the Maple Leafs host the Islanders and the Lightning next week.
Jaroslav Halak (Montreal Canadiens)
Canadien coach Guy Carbonneau has vowed to play the hot-handed Halak until he cools off. The young Czech netminder was 7-3 in his last 10 and won four starts in a row before coming down with the flu.
In his absence, former goalie prince Carey Price was given the nod but lost both games he started.
Montreal eagerly awaits the return of their own personal Skeletor, otherwise known as Halak, for he is the evil lord of destruction to their opponents.
Available in half of CBS leagues and two-thirds of those on Yahoo, Jaroslav is also ranked fourth among goaltenders by ESPN over the past two weeks.
During the upcoming scoring period, the Canadiens play all three of their games in Montreal. Halak is 11-3 this season at home and is therefore a very strong play if fully recovered.
Manny Fernandez (Boston Bruins)
Fernandez was a hot commodity before the new year, but has not won a game since early January. Coupled with a history of chronic back problems, Manny now is widely available.
With back-to-back games next weekend, you could do a lot worse on the waiver wire. After all, Fernandez is fifth in the NHL in GAA with a mark of 2.32.
Dwayne Roloson (Edmonton Oilers)
While Roloson is not a top tier goaltender, he is the constant number two who helps win fantasy championships. Next week the Oilers host the Thrashers and the Avalanche.
Roloson has never lost to Atlanta. On the other hand, his career numbers against Colorado are not so spectacular. But this year the Avalanche are horrendous, currently occupying the uncoveted position of last place in the Western Conference.
In his only start vs. Colorado this season, Dwayne posted a 1.38 GAA an a .938 SV% in an overtime loss. Roll the dice with Roloson.
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