Fantasy Hockey Watch: Big Time Backstoppers

Dustin PollackContributor IJanuary 10, 2011

Corey Crawford kicks out his right pad in a victory over the New York Islanders last night.
Corey Crawford kicks out his right pad in a victory over the New York Islanders last night.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The importance of goaltending varies from league to league, depending on what type of point system your commissioner has set up, but either way, having a goaltender (or two or three) who wins games and puts up good numbers can’t hurt your chances of winning your league. And trust me, from first hand experience (last year I had Jeff Deslauriers and Mike Smith leading the charge…yes, I know, sad), having two goalies who can’t carry the load could cost you hockey's version of the Shiva and leave you with nothing more than the Sacko.

So that being said, here are a few goaltenders who may be helping or hindering your chances on the road to fantasy glory.

Corey Crawford: To be honest, I was one of the people who thought Marty Turco would have a career resurgence in Chicago after back-to-back subpar seasons in Dallas. But a 9-10-2 record, .899 save percentage and 3.02 goals against average are far from rebounding numbers.

But as we know, one man’s misfortunes can be another’s opportunity, and Corey Crawford has been a breath of fresh air in a city that hasn’t had (please don’t say Antti Niemi) a bonafide number one goaltender since…well, I don’t know...Ed Belfour? Unless of course Jeff Hackett, Jocelyn Thibault or the 05-06 version of Nikolai Khabibulin  (I guess he was coming off a Stanley Cup in 03-04 so maybe) do it for you.

The 27-year old Crawford is 14-8-1 with a .917 save percentage, a 2.23 GAA and recorded his first shutout of the season in a 5-0 drubbing of the New York Islanders last night. He’s also only owned in 59 percent of Yahoo! Fantasy leagues, and although he’s not fully number one in Chicago yet, he will be soon, so run and grab him before your opponent does.

Jonathan Quick: It was much speculated throughout the hockey world that Jonathan Quick would lose his starting job to highly touted Kings prospect Jonathan Bernier (2009-2010 AHL goalie of the year) before season’s end. But talk about silencing the critics.

In 31 starts so far this season, Quick has put up the best numbers of his young career: a 19-10-1 record, .921 save percentage, 2.15 GAA and four shutouts. He’s gone from shaky starter to potential Vezina Trophy winner, and if he keeps it up, you have to wonder whether the Los Angeles Kings will hang onto Bernier or attempt to put him on the trade block as bait to snag another big name forward because Quick is likely the goalie of the future in L.A.; he’s only 24.

Ondrej Pavelec: Another potential Vezina trophy nominee, the performance of Ondrej Pavelec is perhaps more surprising then that of Jonathan Quick for a couple of reasons. For one, the average hockey fan probably didn’t even know his name until this season. And beyond that, just moments into the Atlanta Thrashers season opener against the Washington Capitals, Pavelec collapsed on the ice and fell unconscious providing one of the scariest sports moments I’ve ever seen live and on highlights for that matter.

After a few days in the hospital, it was determined that Pavelec’s collapse was neurocardiogenic syncope, a type of fainting spell, and he returned to the ice just weeks later.

Since the scary episode, Pavelec has been brilliant posting a .930 save percentage and a 2.33 GAA, and he’s been one of the primary components that’s catapulted the Thrashers from an NHL bottom feeder to a potential playoff contender.

Martin Brodeur : It’s hard to say, but Marty’s name seems to be becoming synonymous with subpar. From getting yanked at the Olympics, back-to-back playoff disappointments, and now the starting goalie on a New Jersey Devils team that’s on pace to win just 22 games this season. You have to wonder whether the career of the greatest goalie of all time is coming to an end. An .887 save percentage and a 3.05 GAA, and sadly, he was probably one of the first goalies taken in your league draft.

Unless you believe in a miraculous second half (like I’m hoping for with Alex Ovechkin), then you might want to look into what goalies are available in your league. In a 10-plus person league, starting goalies may be few and far between, but someone like Brian Boucher (who I just picked up) may be available, and he’s a veteran on a winning team who may counter the amount of losses that Brodeur unfortunately brings to the table. You also may want to think about taking on a backup goaltender who can give your team a lift. Although many backups don’t get a ton of playing time, someone like Andrew Raycroft or Anders Lindback may be worth having on your roster as both have shined in the backup role this season.

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