Although it might be considered the year of the backup netminder, a lot of franchise goaltenders returned to action this week. The group of Corey Crawford, Jonathan Quick, and Jimmy Howard all made their way back to the blue paint. How does this impact your fantasy team?
In Chicago and Los Angeles, both Crawford and Quick are back in action. Since both players are owned in 100 percent of ESPN leagues, it’s not a matter of picking them up, but if it’s worth keeping their backups.
For Crawford, his numbers haven’t been the best, but he will definitely be the starter in Chicago. Despite his .907 save percentage on the season, the elite team in front of him has helped limit his GAA to 2.49. It’s also a positive sign he posted save percentages of .912 and .952 by stopping 71 of the 76 shots he has seen since returning, as the Blackhawks failed to record a win in either of those games.
In terms of what it means if you own Antti Raanta, who is owned in 68.2 percent of ESPN leagues, it obviously means he won’t be as important to your fantasy team. However, the Blackhawks have seven back-to-backs remaining on their schedule and will most likely win the Western Conference with ease and have a few games at the end of the season where they give the nod to Raanta instead of Crawford. If you have another strong goaltender or two along with Raanta, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to hang on to him. If not, it is time to look for another goalie.
With the Kings, Martin Jones has been assigned to the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL, so it is time to release the goalie. As for Ben Scrivens, it may not be worthwhile hanging on to him either, as the Kings often rely on Quick when he is healthy. Including this year, Quick has started 256 of Los Angeles’ 337 games since the start of the 2009-2010 season, as Quick’s backup for most of that time was Jonathan Bernier. It might be hard for Scrivens to get enough starts to be considered a helpful fantasy netminder.
The only one of the big name goaltenders coming back you might have a chance at grabbing is Jimmy Howard, who is available in 2.2 percent of ESPN leagues. Although he has a .911 save percentage and 2.65 GAA on the season, Howard has posted back-to-back performances stopping 68 of the 71 shots he has seen. Despite his play earlier in the year, he is worth picking up, especially if you were relying on Jonas Gustavsson, Scrivens, Jones, or Raanta.
As for skaters, a big pair of names returned to action this week, as both Nathan Horton and Shane Doan suited up. Both players are available in over 20 percent of ESPN leagues and can have huge scoring impacts for your fantasy team.
For Horton, who is owned in 68.1 percent of ESPN leagues, he had a goal in his first game as a Columbus Blue Jacket and has five shots on goal in his first two games of the season. The former Boston Bruin is expected to be on the team’s top line, as he is currently on a line with Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov. The power forward will also see a lot of time on the power play.
For Doan, he may have not impressed in his first game back on Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers, but he will get his points and TOI. Owned in 79.0 percent of ESPN leagues, Doan has 23 points in 28 games with eight of those points coming on the power play, as he averages 19:04 TOI this season. The veteran forward is expected to be on a line with Mike Ribeiro and David Moss.
TEAMS WITH BACK-TO-BACKS THIS WEEK
Anaheim Ducks – @ Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday and hosting the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.
Carolina Hurricanes – Hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday and @ Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.
Calgary Flames – @ Colorado Avalanche tonight and @ Phoenix Coyotes tomorrow night.
Chicago Blackhawks – @ Montreal Canadiens on Saturday and hosting the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.
Columbus Blue Jackets – Hosting the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday and @ Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.
Colorado Avalanche – Hosting the New York Islanders on Friday and @ Minnesota Wild on Saturday.
Dallas Stars – @ New Jersey Devils on Thursday and @ New York Rangers on Friday.
Detroit Red Wings – @ Los Angeles Kings on Saturday and @ Anaheim Ducks on Sunday.
Minnesota Wild – Host the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday and @ Nashville Predators on Sunday.
New Jersey Devils – Hosting the Florida Panthers on Saturday and @ Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday.
Nashville Predators – Hosting the Ottawa Senators on Saturday and the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.
New York Islanders – Hosting the Dallas Stars tonight and @ Toronto Maple Leafs tomorrow night.
Philadelphia Flyers – @ New Jersey Devils tomorrow night and hosting the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday. Hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday and @ New York Rangers on Sunday.
Pittsburgh Penguins – @ Edmonton Oilers on Friday and @ Calgary Flames on Saturday.
St. Louis Blues – @ Calgary Flames on Thursday and @ Vancouver Canucks on Friday.
Toronto Maple Leafs – @ Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday and @ Washington Capitals on Friday.
Washington Capitals – @ Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday and hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday.
LEAGUE LEADERS WHO AREN’T 100 PERCENT OWNED
Goals: Forwards – Frans Nielsen (NYI, 94.5% owned), Tied for 25th among forwards with 15. Defensemen – Michael Stone (PHX, 4.1% owned), Tied for sixth among defensemen with seven.
Assists: Forwards – Marcus Johansson (WSH, 56.6% owned), Tied for 19th among forwards with 22. Defensemen – Andrew MacDonald (NYI, 70.4% owned), Tied for 19th among defensemen with 17.
Plus/Minus: Forwards – Dustin Penner (ANA, 49.1% owned), Tied for ninth among forwards with plus-17 rating. Defensemen – Hampus Lindholm (ANA, 38.0% owned), Tied for second among defensemen with plus-21 rating.
PIMs: Forwards – Antoine Roussel (DAL, 6.9% owned), First in NHL with 107. Defensemen – Radko Gudas (TBL, 68.8% owned), First among defensemen with 86.
Power-Play Points: Forwards – Marcus Johansson (WSH, 56.6% owned), Tied for 11th among forwards with 15. Defensemen – Eric Gelinas (NJD, 13.5% owned), Tied for 16th among defensemen with 10.
Average TOI: Forwards – Tyler Bozak (TOR, 93.3% owned), 13th among forwards with 20:53. Defensemen – Dennis Wideman (CGY, 49.8% owned), Sixth among defensemen with 26:01.
Shots on Goal: Forwards – Chris Higgins (VAN, 80.8% owned), 18th among forwards with 130. Defensemen – Kevin Bieksa (VAN, 98.8% owned), 13th among defensemen with 92.
Goalie Wins: Craig Anderson (OTT, 97.9% owned), 15th with 14
Save Percentage: Anton Khudobin (CAR, 15.5% owned), .934