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Another Fantasy Hockey Link- January 31, 2011

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School of Block: Down the Stretch- The Goalie Guild- Justin Goldman

Justin Goldman declares who he feels are the netminders who will give us the most fantasy value for the remaining ten weeks of the regular season. He believes each has the ability to make adjustments with alacrity and improve every aspect of his game. I don't see them being available on the waiver wire in even the shallowest of leagues, but maybe you can pry them away from an unsuspecting owner. They are:

Miikka Kiprusoff- With only an .885 save-percentage and a 3.09 goals-against-average in January, Kiprusoff's confidence was shaken. In his last ten games he was pulled twice. But in a game last week against the Canucks, he made a remarkable first-period glove save that seemed to be the catalyst that restored his swagger. The result was a Calgary shootout win with Kipper making 41 saves on 44 shots, followed by two wins where he allowed only one goal in each game. Is it possible that this could be the turning-point where the 34 year-old Finn rights the ship?

Ryan Miller- Last season's Vezina Trophy winner has many poolies kicking themselves for selecting him in the first-round of their 2010-11 drafts. His .913 save-percentage and 2.68 goals-against-average fall short of expectations. But Justin feels a number of things bode well for Miller's fantasy value improving toward season's end. First, he has won his last four starts, stopping 125 of 143 shots. Second, we must take into account Miller's two-plus week absence in November due to injury to properly project his wins, saves, and shutouts for the rest of the year. Third, with Buffalo six points out of a playoff spot, Miller will draw from his experience on Team USA in the Winter Olympics a year ago to help bring the Sabres into the post-season. Do you feel these and Miller's sound "economical" and butterfly style will, as according to Justin, improve Miller's value?

Henrik Lundqvist-The King has a 1.97 goals-against-average and a .934 save-percentage in January despite going 5-4-1. He is currently on pace to play a whopping 70 games and win 36. Justin feels, however, that he will win 40 because of 1) his experience, 2) his ability to make the huge, timely save in close games, 3) his save percentage at home (.924) and on the road(.925) are virtually identical, and 4) he (along with Tim Thomas) leads the league in shutouts (7). Justin even believes that Lundqvist will add 4-5 more shutouts before the season's end. Do you?

Antti Niemi-Up until December, not many would have predicted to see the 27 year-old from Vantaa, Finland on this list. Since then his play has steadily improved. Before losing to the Kings last Wednesday, he had won four consecutive games. Add Antero Niittymaki's nagging injuries, and Niemi now has the opportunity to nail down the starting gig in San Jose. As Justin rightly points out, the Sharks appear to play with more confidence in front of Niemi, which in turn boosts Niemi's confidence in himself. In addition, his phenomenal .901 power play save-percentage (15 PP on 152 shots) is 4th best in the NHL. We also cannot forget what he accomplished for the Blackhawks last year in helping them win the Stanley Cup. Justin feels that despite Niemi's mediocre statistics and "average" butterfly skills, his experience and mental toughness will help steer the Sharks into the playoffs, and help profoundly his fantasy value for the remainder of the 2011 campaign. Do you agree?

Among the goalies without any playoff pressure, Justin considers Devan Dubnyk, Martin Brodeur, and Kevin Poulin as sleepers down the stretch. Except for Brodeur, I would pass on the rookies unless I was in a league that did not consider save-percentage or goals-against-average. Who are your sleepers?