The condensed NHL schedule has put more pressure than usual on players, who now usually have to bring their A-game with less days of rest. While forwards and defensemen need to keep their legs, goalies are also being stretched thin.
The critical position in fantasy hockey leagues always has plenty of hot and cold streaks. Constantly paying attention to potential options between the pipes capable of helping your fantasy hockey team down the stretch is crucial - more this year than ever.
Here are six goalies that should be strongly considered for your fantasy hockey roster or, at the very least, on your radar:
James Reimer, Toronto Maple Leafs - Reimer, owned in just 50 percent of leagues polled, has been on the shelf for awhile with a knee injury. Before his injury, he posted six wins, a 2.31 GAA, 0.929 save percentage and one shutout. The Maple Leafs won't be considered one of the league's elite any time soon, but they are showing signs of improvement and we all know a hot glove at goalie can still shine even on bad teams. Reimer has flashed dominance this season; tuck him away and use him as needed.
Ray Emery, Chicago Blackhawks - The Blackhawks are terrorizing the NHL this season; Emery has helped do his part along the way. Despite being a backup, he has posted eight victories on the year - without a loss - with a 0.927 save percentage and 2.08 GAA. He has the luxury of having one of the more talented groups of forwards playing in front of him, and Chicago's talent at defenseman isn't too shabby, either. With the consistent fast-paced schedule, Emery should continue to see decent enough playing time to deserve the spot start. He's still available in 41 percent of leagues polled.
Jonathan Bernier, Los Angeles Kings - Jonathan Quick is clearly the stud option for the Kings, but his season hasn't been nearly as consistent or dominate as it was a year ago. Bernier, 4-1-0, has filled in nicely whenever given an opportunity and could be a heavily sought after option on the trade market. Available in 87 percent of leagues polled, Bernier, at a minimum, should be owned by all Quick owners. If you have the room, tuck him away and use him when the team calls his number. He's coming off a big win at home against the Detroit Red Wings, where he stood tall with 32 saves against 33 shots (the goal allowed was a fluke on a bad bounce) and is averaging 1.64 GAA with a 0.931 save percentage. At the very least, continued inconsistency from Quick could open the door for more playing time.
Johan Hedberg, New Jersey Devils - Martin Brodeur (back) has been placed on IR, opening the door for Hedberg to stand tall in net for at least the short term. Brodeur is long in the tooth, so there's no telling how quickly he'll respond. Hedberg proved last year he was capable of a larger role, posting a 17-win season with a 0.918 save percentage, four shutouts and 2.22 GAA. This year he's sporting a 0.900 save percentage with a 2.65 GAA. He's available in 79 percent of leagues polled, which will change quickly ... don't miss out.
Ben Bishop, Ottawa Senators - I've been a fan of Bishop since his college days and had thought his arrival in Ottawa two seasons ago would have opened the door for him to shine. Craig Anderson has limited that opportunity, but Bishop is showing he's capable of being a No. 1 backstop when given the opportunity. With a 4-2-0 record on the year, he's allowing 2.17 GAA and saving 0.935 percent of the rubber that heads his way. Anderson is on the shelf with an ankle injury, which is opening the door for Bishop to see consistent minutes. Love his potential long term, in the mean time snag him if you're in need of some quality minutes. At the very least, all Anderson owners should handcuff him to Bishop. He's still available in 71 percent of leagues polled.
Jonas Hiller, Anaheim Ducks - Injuries aside, Hiller's season has been marred with poor production. He has an 0.879 save percentage and is allowing 3.34 goals per game on average. However, for the hot Ducks, Hiller's number will still be called upon at times. Viktor Fasth is playing great between the pipes, but he's largely unproven, which could open the door for more playing time for Hiller should he be able to show the team in spot duty he still has what it takes. In larger leagues, I wouldn't hesitate to tuck him away as a reserve netminder.
About Ryan R. Bonini
Founding KFFL in 1996, Bonini now serves as VP of Fantasy Sports Solutions for USA
TODAY SPORTS, KFFL's parent company. Bonini was named 2009 Fantasy Football Writer
of the Year by the FSWA,
received honors with the Best Fantasy Football Series in '10 and was named into their Hall of Fame in '13.
His work has been found in USA TODAY Sports, Yahoo!
Sports, FOX Sports, CBS Sports, NFL.com, and many others. He has also been featured
on numerous radio programs around the country. Bonini is a member of the PFWA,
FSWA and FSTA.
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