In The Cage: Conklin Or MacDonald?

Feb 6th 2012, 10:22am EST

Every Monday during the season, goalie specialist and founder of The Goalie Guild Justin Goldman will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy goaltenders in NHL.com's weekly segment: "In the Cage." From updated goalie rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Goldman will be your fantasy goalie expert all season long.

Since Jimmy Howard is on the shelf for at least a few weeks due to a broken index finger, many poolies are faced with the choice between Ty Conklin and Joey MacDonald as a potential replacement. So which one is likely to have more fantasy value during Howard's absence?

Ty Conklin

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On one side you have Conklin, who allowed three goals on just nine Oilers shots last Saturday night. His uninspiring play opened the door for Joey MacDonald to step in and stop 22 of 23 shots, a valiant effort in a 5-4 shootout loss. It has been a tough season for Conklin, who is just 3-5-0 with a 3.40 goals-against average and .878 save percentage. All nine of his starts this season have come on the road.

MacDonald, however, played nine times in January alone for Grand Rapids (AHL). Although he's designated as the clear-cut third-stringer for the Red Wings, he still brings a solid veteran presence, a calm demeanor, a well-rounded game, and the ability to perform well under pressure.

With this in mind, we feel MacDonald could surprise poolies by earning more points than Conklin. The main reason for this is overall playing consistency; Conklin has been riding the pine for a majority of the season, but MacDonald was 4-3-2 with a 2.29 GAA and .926 save percentage in January for Grand Rapids. So one goalie is in a rhythm, but the other is dealing with rust and inconsistency due to sporadic playing time.