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Shuffle Up: Tuukka Rask grabs yellow jersey; how good is Corey Crawford?

Scott Pianowski
Roto Arcade

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Another Garden Party wraps up (USAT)

The first in-season Shuffle Up is a tricky assignment in any sport, any season. While we don't want to be knee-jerk reactionaries with respect to the early action, we don't want to be late to early-season trends, either. What's real and what's mirage? These are the questions that make a fantasy life worth living.

The stakes are raised in NHL 2013, looking at a condensed schedule and a microwaved season. If there's ever been a time to be aggressive with value changes, this is the year.

And of course goalies are the craziest and flakiest of all fantasy commodities. Yesterday's zero can be today's hero, and vice versa. A bad environment can sink a good netminder, while a strong defense can elevate a pedestrian keeper.

Your intelligent disagreement is most welcome in the comments, and if you win the debate, you might win the rank. But make sure you provide some reasoning for your disagreement, and a detailed explanation of how you'd change the listing. You can't merely say "Brodeur is too low" without suggesting what goalies ahead of him are too high. Respect the room, puckheads.

Let's try to figure this all out, gamers. Ranks are up first – extra comments will follow shortly. And I reserve the right to tweak this list as the day goes along. Enough preamble, let's get into character.

1. Tuukka Rask
2. Henrik Lundqvist
3. Jonathan Quick
4. Ryan Miller

If you want to rank this Fab Four in a slightly-different order, that's fine with me. It's not like I'm crushing King Henrik with a No. 2 ranking. Ultimately I decided to give Rask the nod because of his overall setup: the Bruins have a deep corps on the blue line, balanced scoring, and a strong mix of experience and youth with upside. This should be a top contender in the East all season. And it looks like the Bruins are going to give Rask a heavy workload, even in the condensed season.

5. Carey Price
6. Pekka Rinne
7. Jaroslav Halak

Halak's recorded two of the easiest shutouts we'll see all year, stopping 14 pucks against Detroit and 13 versus the Predators. Heck, he was merely the No. 3 star in both games, which tells you a lot. The Blues already had a ridiculous group on defense to open the year, and it's only stronger now that Wade Redden is in town. Alex Pietrangelo is a Norris Trophy waiting to happen, book it. Halak didn't play well in his two non-shutouts, of course, but Brian Elliott's poor start buoys Halak's value. … Rinne's value has been solidified and rather static for a few years (that's good in this case), but it's so hard to trust his supporting cast on offense. And Nashville might have the worst collection of shootout options in the league, it's almost embarrassing.

8. Antti Niemi
9. Craig Anderson
10. Martin Brodeur
11. Corey Crawford
12. Cory Schneider

Crawford's career numbers aren't special at all: 2.48 goals-against average, .911 save percentage. But he's playing behind arguably the best and deepest blue-line group in the league (St. Louis could also get that honor), and his confidence is obviously through the United Center roof right now. The fantasy takeaway is fairly simple: an ordinary goalie in a super environment is usually more valuable than a terrific puck-stopper surrounded by a mediocre club. … I want to be all-in on Schneider, as I still trust this roster and defense, and I like the player from a talent perspective. But until Luongo is traded, there's a limit to how optimistic we can be. And obviously Luongo's bagel against Colorado on Wednesday – punctuated by a handful of spectacular saves – further complicates the issue.

13. Marc-Andre Fleury
14. Kari Lehtonen
15. Jimmy Howard
16. Mike Smith
17. Ilya Bryzgalov
18. Anders Lindback

We discussed Howard last week: he's a good netminder but not an elite one, and this is the worst defense he's ever had to bear. The Red Wings still might be a playoff team, but it's going to be as a lower seed – and I'll be stunned if they go on an extended playoff run. The depth isn't there any longer. … I'm not sure if the Tampa Bay defense is any good, but man this club is going to score a ton of goals. In hybrid formats where wins are more important than percentage stats, Lindback might be a Top 10-12 netminder.

19. Niklas Backstrom
20. Roberto Luongo
21. Cam Ward
21. Semyon Varlamov
23. Brian Elliott
24. Jonas Hiller
25. Ondrej Pavelec
26. Miikka Kiprusoff

Give me a good reason to believe in Kiprusoft, or his defense. Construct an argument. I'll wait. I'll provide hold music. … I'll be surprised if Elliott is able to usurp Halak at any point this year, not that Ken Hitchcock is afraid to make changes. Bottom line, I'm betting on the more-talented goalie (Halak) to win out in the end. But in my head-to-head league, I felt the need to hedge my Halak play with Elliott on the bench. At the end of the day, it's a team I want to be invested in.

27. Devan Dubnyk
28. Jose Theodore
29. Sergei Bobrovsky
30. Evgeni Nabokov
31. Braden Holtby
32. Ben Scrivens
33. Michal Neuvirth

I realize Washington should have a Top 20-25 goalie at minimum, but how can you feel good about either one of their options? I feel sorry for Adam Oates: his team desperately needed a training camp and a getting-to-know-you period, but the labor mess put the kibosh on that.

34. Josh Harding
35. Tomas Vokoun
36. James Reimer
37. Johan Hedberg
38. Thomas Greiss
39. Dan Ellis
40. Ben Bishop
41. Anton Khudobin
42. Andre Racicot
43. Steve Mason
44. Chad Johnson
45. Jhonas Enroth

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