In The Cage: Midseason Mysteries
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 Monday is the official midpoint of the regular season, we think this is a perfect chance to discuss six mysterious situations (in no particular order) facing poolies in the second half. These unknown elements of NHL goaltending could make or break your playoff run over the next two months, so keep an eye on these developing situations as you jockey for positioning in all of your fantasy leagues!
1. Marc-Andre Fleury's fate: Despite earning 19 wins in the first half, what should poolies make of the mystery surrounding the latest onslaught of injuries to his teammates? Furthermore, one stat that raises concern is the number of games in which he has allowed three goals. In his last 23 starts, this has happened an alarming 14 times, yet he still has a solid 2.31 goals-against average. We also point out that his worst month historically is February, where he holds a 3.16 GAA and .897 save percentage in 49 career games. If Fleury's second half is to be an improvement, he has to hit "playoff-mode" right now.
2. Reaching the 40-win plateau: With so many backups playing so many games in the first half, what should poolies make of the mystery surrounding the elusive 40-win mark? Since the 2006 season, very few goalies have put together seasons of such high caliber, but with Jimmy Howard clearly leading the way with 24 wins in 35 games, he appears to be a shoo-in. Stranger things have happened in the second half, however, and burnout could be a factor if Detroit doesn't give Ty Conklin some starts down the stretch. Pekka Rinne (20 wins in 37), Fleury (19 in 33), Henrik Lundqvist (18 in 29), Jonathan Quick (18 in 35), and Antti Niemi (18 in 30) could all push for 40 wins as well.