At this point of the season, the quarter mark, a lot of fantasy hockey teams are suffering thanks to brutal goaltending. Some are hurting so bad that there is no coming back. But for others, there is still a chance – they just need help between the pipes. It's extremely difficult to fix your fantasy squad if your goaltending is broken. All of the starters are spoken for, but a few dark horses are starting to emerge and could help out your team. Let's review.
Reto Berra, Calgary Flames
Just 5 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, Berra has established himself as the starter for the Calgary Flames just two months after arriving in North America. He's outperformed KHL star Karri Ramo and although neither goaltender has been "lights out," Berra has started four straight games. He had two terrible games that really dragged his numbers down, otherwise his save percentage would be above .910. I have no problem owning him, but I'll keep him on my bench until the Flames heat up (no pun intended). And as bad as the Flames are, all teams have their hot streaks.
Ilya Bryzgalov, Edmonton Oilers
Already 17 percent owned, desperate fantasy players are flocking to the known "name" guy who just signed with the Oilers. Not interested. Sure, I'd be fine with putting Bryzgalov on my bench, but I wouldn't get into a bidding war over him (if your waiver process involves a bidding system). I'm not confident he will do well. I think he was brought in to be a backup and push the stumbling Devan Dubnyk. More on that…
Devan Dubnyk, Edmonton Oilers
Here is the guy I'm really interested in. Just 35 percent owned as poolies bailed on him quickly after a tough October. Dubnyk is a habitual late starter who generally has a strong second half. We're already seeing signs of a turnaround as he's had four strong starts in a row (two of them for wins) and he could be had for a song if you approached his owner with a trade offer.
Steve Mason, Philadelphia Flyers
Just 52 percent owned despite having numbers - other than wins - that are among the best in the league. Mason has yet to give up more than three goals in a game this season. Think about that for a moment. If the Flyers start to find the net again, and lately that seems to be the case, then the wins will start rolling in. Buy low and keep him on your active roster.
Marek Mazanec, Nashville Predators
With Pekka Rinne out until late December, he could be gone for as many as 19 more games. If that's the case, Mazanec will start 17 of them. Carter Hutton, who was technically Rinne's backup, has shown that he’s not ready to start with any regularity. And Magnus Hellberg, the prized prospect in the system, is honing his craft in the American League. Meanwhile, Mazanec is basking in the goaltending heaven that is the Barry Trotz coaching system. If Mazanec starts 17 games he'll have eight or nine wins, another shutout or two, plus a solid save percentage (currently .927). Just three percent owned in Yahoo leagues. Seriously - three percent owned. This is a goalie who will give you at least eight wins and solid numbers for the next five weeks.
Kevin Poulin, New York Islanders
If it wasn't already apparent that Poulin has taken over the No. 1 job with the Islanders, it's certainly clear now. With Evgeni Nabokov sidelined, Poulin will see the bulk of the starts. Anders Nilsson is a solid prospect who could muscle in on Poulin's situation, so watch for that. But in the meantime the job is Poulin's to lose and the Islanders are a team that should win more often than they lose.
Ben Scrivens, Los Angeles Kings
Already owned in 53 percent of Yahoo leagues (which makes me shake my head at the lack of Mason owners), Scrivens is on fire for the Kings. He'll be manning the nets for another month as Jonathan Quick is sidelined. And in the Los Angeles system, he'll thrive. He's given up just four goals in his past five starts, including two shutouts. A great fantasy own for the next four weeks, but probably a weak own after that.
Tim Thomas, Florida Panthers
You'll have to excuse Tim Thomas for the unimpressive start and the early-season injuries. He took a year off and at the age of 39, it's hard to do that and return at the top of your game. But after battling a groin injury and some inconsistent play, the former Vezina and Conn Smythe winner is back on his game. Just 28 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, Thomas has won three of his past four games and has allowed just eight goals in that span.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.