Injuries Hit the Goalie Position Hard
Goaltending in Fantasy hockey is like the quarterback position in Fantasy football. If you’re playing in a league in which you only start one goalie, you can wait during your draft to take one. If your league starts two goalies, well, then you want to make sure you have an anchor and may even draft a third netminder. The problem occurs when injuries hit the goalie position and it only took about three weeks for that situation to rear its ugly head. Cory Schneider (lower body), Tuukka Rask (concussion), Roberto Luongo (thumb), and Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion). This almost 13 percent of the league’s starting goaltenders on the shelf.
The good news is that none of the above mentioned four goalies is expected to be out long-term. Schneider is skating on his own but has yet to practice with the team. New Jersey doesn’t play again until Friday and there is a chance that he’ll return for that game, but the smart money is on Keith Kinkaid guarding the cage and Schneider returning over the weekend or early next week.
Concussions are always tricky. There really is no telling when a player will recover from one. The symptoms can last for days, weeks, months, or even longer. Rask is considered questionable to play Thursday, so that’s a good sign as far as is health is concerned and we know Boston believes he will be ready to at least be the backup, as they sent Zane McIntyre down to the AHL earlier this week.
Luongo is expected to miss at least the next week due to the thumb injury but that timetable is questionable at best. The Panthers don’t believe they will have an accurate timetable for his return until later this week. Florida isn’t taking any chances, however, as they claimed Antti Niemi who was recently waived by the Penguins. Niemi has a world of experience but has also been next to terrible this season with a GAA of 7.50 and a save percentage of .797. Yeah, those are far from the best of numbers. James Reimer is likely to start a majority of the games in Luongo’s absence and could be a solid pickup for those owners who need a goaltender for the next little while.
Las Vegas is just unbelievable. They are 7-1 this season despite losing their starting goaltender (Fleury) and the backup (Malcolm Subban). Fleury has now suffered multiple concussions over the past couple of seasons. Multiple concussions tend to lead to a longer absence but once again, we really don’t know. What we do know is that according to Vegas he’s progressing, and they hope he will return to practice in the near future. The news is much worse for Subban. He has suffered a lower body injury that will keep him out of the lineup for approximately a month. The Golden Knights (not a big fan of this name) haven’t announced the exact nature of the injury (state secrets and all) but they did announce that surgery will not be required. Oscar Dansk is expected to start until Fleury can return to action.
Casey DeSmith will take over the backup role for Niemi in Pittsburgh. He’s not a threat to Matt Murray but could be worth a pickup in deeper leagues.
Brian Elliott owners may be getting a little nervous. He is being outplayed badly by Michal Neuvirth. Now, we have seen this before with Neuvirth, so his long-term prognosis isn’t rosy but his current numbers, 1.36 GAA and .957 save percentage, dwarf Elliott’s 3.33 and .876. The Flyers aren’t a good enough team to wait out Elliott. They have to go with the goaltender that gives them the best chance to win now, so a change could be in the making here. Two things are in Elliott’s favor. One, the Flyers are 4-2 in his starts (1-2 with Neuvirth in net). Second, Elliott started off pretty badly last year in Calgary before rebounding in the second half. I wouldn’t release Elliott, but if Neuvirth is available, you may want to claim him as insurance just in case.
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