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Crease Conflicts

Crease Conflicts Logo Goaltending is the most important position in hockey and the same goes for fantasy hockey (depending on your leagues format) but its also one of the easiest to exploit cause things can change so quickly... so you really have to stay on top of it and that's what we strive to help you with here.

Below we take an in-depth look at all the goalie situations around the league to find out which ones provide the best opportunities for fantasy hockey GMs.  We rank all the crease conflicts from the biggest current fight (top) to the no contests (bottom).  We won't update these every day but we will when a situation or our recommendation changes.

WAR (all out fight to the death)

 WASHINGTON (last update: Mar 30th)

  • #1 Jose Theodore - he's hot or cold, either unbeatable or can't stop anything... which doesn't lead to a lot of confidence amongst his coach or teammates. 
  • #2 Semyon Varlamov - had been sensational this year until the groin injury that kept him out for two months and he's been rusty since coming back.  Has only lost four times in regulation in his entire NHL career (17-4-6). 
  • SCOUT SAYS Although he hasn't played that bad, Varlamov doesn't have a win to show for his last five outings while Theodore is 17-0-2 in his last 20 games with some decent numbers (2.56 & .924).  We're hesitantly going to give Theodore the #1 job back here as it looks like he's playing his way into the playoff starting role (at least for game #1). 

 CHICAGO (last update: Mar 30th)

  • #1 Antti Niemi - he's been playing very well (20-6-3, 2.25, .910 & 6 SO) but he seems to feel the heat when they try to hand him the #1 job. 
  • #2 Cristobal Huet - his .895 sv% is awful but his 2.50 gaa is still respectable... its not hard to just slide by when you're playing behind one of the best defenses in the league (24.8 shots /game, fewest in the league)
  • SCOUT SAYS Niemi has started six of the past nine and finished eight of the last 10 with decent results (3-2-2, 2.23 & .913) despite the Hawks struggling with injuries.  We've been waiting for this to happen all year... we're finally ready to call Niemi the #1 and we feel pretty comfortable that he'll hold that title the rest of the year and into the playoffs.

 BOSTON (last update: Mar 30th)

  • #1 Tuukka Rask - he's been sensational this year and sits top 2 in the league in both gaa (2.08) & sv% (.928).
  • #2 Tim Thomas - last year's Vezina trophy winner has been a shadow of his former self (16-18-8, 2.55 & .915), no doubt hurt by the Bruins diminished depth and injury woes. 
  • SCOUT SAYS We're finally flipping this one as we just wanted to make 100% sure that Thomas was finished... and he is.  Rask has started seven and finished nine of the last 10 games and other than a five goal hiccup vs TB, he's been very solid at 4-3-0, 1.84 & .934 over that stretch. 

 DALLAS (last update: Mar 30th)

  • #1 Marty Turco - had looked like he was bouncing back after last year's debacle but he's been off & on this year and with no contract for next year, his time in Dallas is nearing an end. 
  • #2 Kari Lehtonen - has a lot of potential but also has a lot of injury baggage... we hope Joe Nieuwendyk knows what he's doing. 
  • SCOUT SAYS Lehtonen has started six of the past 8 and won four of them with some fine play (2.35 & .936)... with Dallas all but eliminated from the playoffs and Turco on his way out, look for Lehtonen to see the majority of the games to close out the season. 

 TAMPA BAY (last update: Mar 10th)

  • #1 Antero Niittymaki - has had two stretches this season where he's carried the team but Tocchet always seems to go back to Smith... until now. 
  • #2 Mike Smith - has had trouble staying healthy and when healthy he hasn't been very good (3.01 & .901).  
  • SCOUT SAYS Niittymaki's started 16 of the past 20 and so we're probably a little overdue in flipping this one in his favour but we know how much Tocchet loves Smith.  Just as we flip this one though, trouble is brewing as Niittymaki has been awful lately going 1-3-0, 5.79 & .837 in his last five games.  This means you could see more of Smith but he doesn't have a win to show for his last seven games, so he's not giving Tocchet much of an alternative. 

 ATLANTA (last update: Mar 30th)

  • #1 Johan Hedberg - he's typically not more than a below average back-up but he's turned in a fine season... his gaa (2.64) hasn't been this low in years and his sv% (.914) has never reached this level. 
  • #2 Ondrej Pavelec - started the year looking pretty solid but faces a ton of rubber (35.2 shots /60 mins) and seems prone to letdowns as he's given up four or more goals in 18 of his 39 games this year. 
  • SCOUT SAYS Hedberg's been the go-to guy here as Atlanta makes a late & disjointed playoff push... he's started nine of the last 12 and has been respectable (4-5-0, 2.58 & .916).  Pavelec hasn't played much but maybe that's a good thing as he's played better lately by only giving up a total of five goals over his last three starts.  

BATTLE (this is a fight but not quite at WAR level yet)

 NASHVILLE (last update: Mar 30th)

  • #1 Pekka Rinne - he lost his first three decisions this year but is a stellar 29-11-5 since. 
  • #2 Dan Ellis - would get more chances if he could string together back-to-back solid performances... but that's been a bit of a challenge.
  • SCOUT SAYS Despite the lopsided record, Rinne has only been average this year (2.55 & .910) but he's picked the right time to ramp it up as he's 9-2-1, 1.79 & .934 while starting 12 of 16 games in March. 

 NYI (last update: Mar 10th)

  • #1 Dwayne Roloson - on an Islanders team that loses more than it wins, Roloson has a very respectable record (20-15-6). 
  • #2 Rick DiPietro - he's been rusty since returning and now he's hurt again.  
  • #3 Marty Biron - has been very shaky this year (4-12-2, 3.26 & .897) and, as we suspected, nobody wanted anything to do with him at the trade deadline.  
  • SCOUT SAYS The February Flop on the Island has been followed by the March Meltdown as these guys had been right in the thick of the playoff race up until a few weeks ago and are now a lot closer to another #1 overall pick than a lot of people realize.  It's been all Roloson since coming back from the break but he has only one win to show for his last nine games and none of these guys are worth your time and energy. 

 TORONTO (last update: Mar 31st)

  • #1 JS Giguere - was having a brutal season before the trade to Toronto, had back-to-back shutouts in first two games with Leafs and now back to being brutal. 
  • #2 Jonas Gustavsson - was below average (with a few flashes) until Giguere arrived and since then he's been playing like the Leafs hoped he would when they signed him. 
  • SCOUT SAYS This is a strict platoon situation as they've been alternating starts for the past month (with one exception) and while Giggy is 2-6-2 in the 10 games since the back-to-back shutouts, Gustavsson rhymed off seven wins in a row and sports a pretty tidy 2.06 gaa & .923 sv% in March. 

 MONTREAL (last update: Feb 8th)

  • #1 Jaroslav Halak - is a solid investment as he's played well enough to take over the #1 job in Montreal and could get moved at the deadline to become a starter on an even better team... although that's looking unlikely.  
  • #2 Carey Price - hasn't been terrible over the past few months (2.57 & .917 in December & January combined) but without more support (the Habs are 27th in goals scored and shots allowed), the losses are going to continue to pile up (he's 11-17-4 on the season). 
  • SCOUT SAYS This is now firmly Halak's job as he's started 8 of the past 9 and been fantastic (5-2-1, 1.97 & .941)... we had been pushing people to buy low on Price but its looking like your only hope of seeing more of him is if Halak goes down injured. 

MINOR SKIRMISH (small conflict where one side appears to be overmatched)

 OTTAWA (last update: Mar 30th)

  • #1 Brian Elliott - has had a breakout season as he's taken over the #1 job after a nine game winning streak in Jan/Feb... he hasn't been spectacular but he's playing behind one of the better defensive groups which allows the 4th fewest shots in the league (28.5 /game).  
  • #2 Pascal Leclaire - can't stay healthy and outside of his nine shutouts two seasons ago, we've never been that impressed with him.  
  • SCOUT SAYS Back on March 10th we said this would be "pretty much all Elliott, all the time down the stretch here" and we weren't too far off as he's started 8 of the last 10.  He's had a few lapses, like giving up a six-pack to Atlanta but then turned around with back-to-back shutouts during his current four game winning streak.   

 PHILADELPHIA (last update: Mar 31st)

  • #1 Brian Boucher - Despite the Flyers trying to make every goalie other than him their starter, he's emerged as the man... yikes. 
  • #2 Johan Backlund - has five years of experience in the SEL prior to a so-so year in the AHL this season.
  • SCOUT SAYS We've removed Ray Emery and Mike Leighton from the picture here as their season's are finished.  Backlund is also injured, as he re-aggravated a groin injury that he originally suffered in the AHL in his first NHL game.  So there's not much to say here as unless the Flyers want to bring Roman Cechmanek out of mothballs then they have no choice but to go with Boucher.  On the brightside, they don't need their goalie to be unbeatable as they're 6th in the league for the fewest shots allowed at 28.8 /game.  

 MINNESOTA (last update: Feb 9th)

  • #1 Niklas Backstrom - he's been playing well below the level we've come to expect and while it has to be the new coach and system, he's actually facing less shots than he did last year. 
  • #2 Josh Harding - has always displayed a lot of potential, he just needs the opportunity. 
  • SCOUT SAYS Backstrom's play has slipped this year and has deteriorated even further over the past month (3-2-1, 4.03 & .860) before going down with a sore back.  Harding stepped in and was close was pushing hard (3-2-0, 1.84 & .942 in his last eigth) until he succumbed to a hip injury.  Backstrom is expected back sooner so he'll probably get the next few starts.  

 COLUMBUS (last update: Feb 9th)

  • #1 Steve Mason - he's been brutal this year (3.14 & .894) and has been lit up for four or more goals 14 times already. 
  • #2 Mathieu Garon - he's been given some chances to earn more starts but hasn't been able to really take advantage.
  • SCOUT SAYS Its only been two games but Mason seems to have new life after Hitchcock's firing as he won two straight and only allowed one goal combined... we wouldn't expect a 180 turnaround here but hopefully he can be less than awful down the stretch... give him a look if you're really desperate, as he's likely available on a lot of waiver wires.

OFFENSIVE (starter firmly established but backup is attempting to unseat them)

 DETROIT (last update: Mar 9th)

  • #1 Jimmy Howard - has looked great so far this year (2.37 & .924) and seems to be gaining confidence as he goes along.
  • #2 Chris Osgood - his numbers are hurting again this year (2.97 & .890) but they're actually not as bad as last year. 
  • SCOUT SAYS Howard's started the last 12 in a row and Babcock has shown little interest in trying to get Ozzie back into the net... even when Howard falters, he climbs right back in the saddle the next game.  

 ST. LOUIS (last update: Mar 9th)

  • #1 Chris Mason - his season is going similar to last year when he started slow and then came on strong at the the end of the year. 
  • #2 Ty Conklin - was stellar to start the year but has been inconsistent of late. 
  • SCOUT SAYS Since Davis Payne took over, Chris Mason has seen most of the work (20 of 25 starts) and has been solid (11-6-3, 2.42 & .920)... Conklin hasn't been terrible (2-3-0, 2.91 & .912) but isn't putting up much of a fight. 

 EDMONTON (last update: Jan 29th)

  • #1 Nikolai Khabibulin - he's the #1 guy but you can never count on him to be healthy... he had back surgery and is likely done for the rest of the season. 
  • #2 Jeff Deslauriers - wanted a shot at the #1 job and he's gotten it this year and while the team in front of him hasn't given him much help, his performance has been less than impressive. 
  • SCOUT SAYS Deslauriers should be better than Devan Dubnyk and is the default #1 for the rest of the year but you should be steering well clear of this train-wreck.  

COLD WAR (not much action but underlying tension that could escalate rapidly)

 FLORIDA (last update: Mar 31st)

  • #1 Tomas Vokoun - his sv% is typically near the top of the league and this year is no exception (3rd in the league at .927)... his other numbers can get a little rough as the Panthers give up the most shots in the league. 
  • #2 Scott Clemmensen - started out the year with some horrific numbers but has salvaged his season with some strong play in March. 
  • SCOUT SAYS Clemmensen didn't see a minute of action in January or February but with after a couple of Vokoun meltdowns in mid March, he's actually started three of the past five and went 2-0-1... look for them to split the rest of the Panthers meaningless games. 

 LA (last update: Mar 31st)

  • #1 Jon Quick - his numbers aren't as good as last year (2.54 & .907) but he's assisted by a pretty decent defensive team in front of him that limits the shots against (3rd in the league at 27.6 /game)... that's allowed him to rack up 39 wins already. 
  • #2 Erik Ersberg - only has six starts so far this year. 
  • SCOUT SAYS We've been saying that Jonathan Bernier was the real threat here and an injury to Ersberg combined with some indifferent play from Quick lately (2-5-1, 3.00 & .898 over his last nine games) gave Bernier a shot and he responded by shutting out the Predators in a key game on March 30th... look out as this could be the opening that the hugely talented Bernier needs.

PEACE TIME (starter is absolutely safe at the present time)

 ANAHEIM (last update: Mar 9th)

  • #1 Jonas Hiller - an underrated goalie (career .919 sv%) who's numbers are a little bit disappointing (26 wins, 2.76 & .917), probably due to the Ducks allowing way too many shots (33.1 /game, 3rd most in the league). 
  • #2 Curtis McElhinney - it's not a ringing endorsement for his ability if Calgary thinks Vesa Toskala is an upgrade. 
  • SCOUT SAYS Hiller's not taking any breaks, he's started 11 in a row with five more at the Olympics in between so don't expect to see much (if any) of McElhinney.   

 COLORADO (last update: Jan 25th)

  • #1 Craig Anderson - he's been the goaltending story of the year so far (26-11-5, 2.46 & .923) in leading the Avs to 1st place in their division. 
  • #2 Peter Budaj - confidence is gone... his & the team's in him.
  • SCOUT SAYS Anderson has started 90% of the games so far and while he may need some rest, we expect the Avs to keep riding him hard. 

 PHOENIX (last update: Jan 20th)

  • #1 Ilya Bryzgalov - came out of the gate so hot this year but cracks are starting to appear in both Bryz & the team as he's gone 3-3-1 with a 3.86 gaa & .876 sv% over his last eight games. 
  • #2 Jason LaBarbera - classic tweener, too good for the AHL but not good enough in the NHL.
  • SCOUT SAYS Its been all Bryz so far (started 86% of their games) and we don't expect Babs to put up much of a fight.  

 CAROLINA (last update: Mar 31st)

  • #1 Cam Ward - was starting to find his groove this year before going down with a back injury in early February.  He's since returned but there's not much left to play for. 
  • #2 Manny Legace - the 37-year old journeyman still has something left to give as he's been pretty decent this year on a poor team. 
  • SCOUT SAYS Legace played well in Ward's absence but Ward should see most the starts the rest of the way as the Canes play out the string.

 PITTSBURGH (last update: Jan 13th)

  • #1 MA Fleury - hasn't been spectacular this year (2.66 & .904) but doesn't have to be as the defense is holding opponents to only 28 shots a game (7th best in the league). 
  • #2 Brent Johnson - decent backup but would probably still be sitting in favour of John Curry if Fleury ever gets hurt.
  • SCOUT SAYS Fleury can log a lot of starts but has been prone to injuries so keep that in your head.

 NYR (last update: Mar 9th)

  • #1 Henrik Lundqvist - he's one of the most consistent keepers in terms of games played and numbers produced and after a bit of a slow start, he's right up there once again (26 wins, 2.42 & .920). 
  • #2 Alex Auld - he's a solid & steady backup who has been a starter at times throughout his career but isn't going to carry a team.
  • SCOUT SAYS Lundqvist should play around 70 games again this year and his numbers will be amongst the league's best, its a lock.

 VANCOUVER (last update: Mar 9th)

  • #1 Roberto Luongo - had a slow start to the year, picked it up in November & December but has been pretty bad over the past two months or so (10-6-0, 3.00 & .902). 
  • #2 Andrew Raycroft - filled in admirably when Luongo was injured but doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in his team or fantasy GMs.
  • SCOUT SAYS The team is still winning but Luongo's play needs to be better heading into the playoffs... hopefully getting back home after a long road trip will help. 

 SAN JOSE (last update: Jan 29th)

  • #1 Evgeni Nabokov - is right up among the league leaders in games & wins and also among the top 10 in gaa & sv%.
  • #2 Thomas Greiss - has been decent this year, when he plays
  • SCOUT SAYS Nabby is playing about 5 of evey 6 games and, barring injury, he should see 70+ games this year. 

 BUFFALO (last update: Jan 20th)

  • #1 Ryan Miller - he's been lights out this year and currently leads all starters in the league in both gaa (1.99) & sv% (.936). 
  • #2 Patrick Lalime - he's his usual awful self this year... he's at .902 right now but you have to go back to 2003/04 to find a NHL season when Pat finished with a sv% above .900 
  • SCOUT SAYS Miller will probably log more minutes than he really should cause the team can't have a lot of confidence in Lalime. 

 NEW JERSEY (last update: Jan 29th)

  • #1 Marty Brodeur - back to his usual tricks this year right near the top of the league in most categories after struggling with form & an injury last season. 
  • #2 Yann Danis - has been good but won't play.
  • SCOUT SAYS Brodeur will start pretty much every game and is on pace to play in 79 games this year.

 CALGARY (last update: Mar 9th)

  • #1 Miikka Kiprusoff - he's been sensational this year and sits in the top ten in the major categories with 28W, 2.22 gaa & .922 sv%... consistent too, as he's only allowed more than three goals on six occasions this year. 
  • #2 Vesa Toskala - the Flames picked him up at the trade deadline... why? nfc. It doesn't get any worse than his 3.59 gaa & .877 sv%, literally (both worst in the league).   
  • SCOUT SAYS Don't expect to see Toskala more than two or three times for Calgary, they'll need as much Kipper as possible down the stretch just to make it into the playoffs.