In The Cage: The Slop Factor

Jan 24th 2013, 10:40am EST

Every Thursday during the season, Justin Goldman, the Director of Goalie Scouting for McKeen's Hockey and founder of The Goalie Guild, 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.

Ryan Miller

Whether your goalies have been struggling or succeeding in the first five days of this messy season, due to an abbreviated training camp and zero preseason games, there's no escaping the slop factor.

The experts preach patience, and while that virtue is even more important with goalies right now, it doesn't make life any easier. We all strive to simplify our decisions on who to start each night (or each week for roto leagues), but knowing that backups will eat away at the workload of many top-flight starters this season, there's simply no room for error with your selections. Time is not on your side.

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Now more than ever, your team's success will depend on the success of your third and fourth goalies.

To make matters worse, avoiding goalies with performance pitfalls -- sloppy positioning, rusty rebound control, ill-timed passes (Niklas Backstrom), or minor injuries (Mike Smith) -- is unavoidable. Washing away the slop is a slow-moving process for some, while it could be a reoccurring process for others.

So if you think your goalies have "broken through" these barriers by their second or third game, don't be shocked if they experience sloppy play down the line. This schedule is unforgiving and unrelenting.