In The Cage: Coming Off The Shelf

Feb 13th 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.

If a goalie is coming off the shelf -- whether due to injury, sickness, or a stretch of being benched -- they face higher levels of pressure to snap back into rhythm without missing a beat. This isn't an easy process at all, but that doesn't mean they're granted any leeway. Produce wins or take a seat on the bench -- that's the life of an NHL goaltender.

Mike Smith

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Poolies should understand that confidence is the fuel that fires the pistons of a goalie's engine. If they make one or two big saves, everything changes -- time slows down and they're more likely to find that rhythm. But if they give up one or two big goals at the wrong time, it's like putting sugar in their tank.

As the urgency to win rises, so too does a goalie's need to be in a good rhythm. There's no room for weak goals or bad losses, so goalies must find a way to play with confidence, which sparks consistency and stability. So what can you expect from some of the goalies that haven't played lately?

Ilya Bryzgalov hasn't played since Feb. 7 (an 18-save shutout in a shootout loss) due to the flu. Missing three games may not seem like a big deal, but since he hasn't been practicing, it could take him a few days, or games, to get his rhythm back. The Flyers don't play again until Thursday, so the practices will eliminate his rust, but they face Buffalo on Thursday and Pittsburgh on Saturday. Proceed with caution.
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