The Goalie Shuffle: The Up the Hill(er), Run-of-the-Mill(er) Edition

It's been a perplexing week on the ice - the elite goaltenders have been dominating, and the guys you expect to fail spectacularly, well, they're allowing three-plus per game like they're trying to meet a quota. Gamers are cashing in on their studs and sitting their duds. And then there's the startling shortage of injuries. In essence, for one week at least, the roto game has done a 180.

Here are some notable nuggets to consider as we (unofficially) jump into the second half of the season:

- How legit is the play of pedestrian puckstoppers Jonas Hiller, Cam Ward, Craig Anderson and Ondrej Pavelec, and is it at all sustainable?

Hiller and Anderson have played out of their minds this month, while Ward and Pavelec have been serviceable. The Ducks have quietly been turning the corner (2.00 GFA in October, 2.46 in November, 2.54 in December, 3.7 in January), and Hiller's stellar G2 numbers last season makes him a prime buy-low candidate. I'd target Ward, too, if that ship hasn't sailed. The Canes start Ward exclusively and he, like Hiller, is coming off a career year, suggesting that his 4-2-3/1.74/.948 line over nine January starts shouldn't be overlooked. See how far Anderson takes you. Avoid Pavelec like the plague.

- What's the deal with Ryan Miller and is there a turnaround on the horizon?

The effects of concussions tend to linger even when a player's cleared for action. That could be a cause for his underwhelming play this year (plus-3.00 GAA, sub-.900 SV%). But the former Vezina winner was losing starts to Jhonas Enroth earlier in the season, even before Milan Lucic floored him as if he stole his girlfriend. I'd keep tabs on Enroth; even though they're on the hook for two more years with Miller, expect the young Swede to get a few looks down the stretch since Buffalo's pretty much out of the hunt.

- Josh Harding (27-percent owned) and Evgeni Nabokov (34-percent owned) are both UFAs at the end of the year and candidates to be moved prior to the deadline. Harding, 27, is a guy teams can lock up long-term, while Nabby has wanted out since Day 1 and has proved that he's still got something left in the tank to help a contending team. If they're dealt to a favorable setting or an ideal setup, they'll make for intriguing adds in all formats.

- Goalie-by-committees are exasperating. How will the timeshares in St. Louis, Toronto, Edmonton, Philadelphia and Colorado play out?

Jaroslav Halak has weathered the storm and has forcefully taken the No. 1 spot away from Brian Elliott. His blistering 14-game stretch (11-0-3, 1.54, .939 - ARE YOU KIDDING ME?) and playoff experience all but ensures a lead role moving forward. The top dog label could still mean a 60-40 or 65-35 split in St. Louis, however. … Reimer hasn't looked right since returning from his concussion. The promising Leafs backstop has gone 3-5-3 with an irreversibly unforgiving 3.21 GAA to go along with a deplorable .892 SV% since December. Jonas Gustavsson has played surprisingly well in place of Reimer, dethroning him as the Buds' starter. Ultimately, though, I foresee 'Optimus Reim' reclaiming the role, as The Monster is only a short-term fix, not a long-term solution. … Nikolai Khabibulin's overall numbers are misleading and his owners are catching on; he's been mass-dropped this week. He's still worthy of a roster spot, despite being a difficult play these days. Devan Dubnyk was perceived as a sleeper in many drafts heading into this season but he's failed to live up to that billing. Edmonton has a young core so it shouldn't come as a shock if they continue to feed him starts, but he's failed to put his game together all season making him virtually unusable. … Bryz continues to consistently underwhelm. He'll post a string of two or three sound showings then get rocked to the tune of five goals the following night. But he continues to win games. Sergei Bobrovsky has performed at a much higher level and has to be considered an immediate threat. … It's Jean-Sebastien Giguere's job to lose. He's earned the call and continues to deliver for a shockingly competitive Avs squad.

Charted Territory:

This chart illustrates goalie battles, the likeliness that the second chair succeeds his predecessor, and the division of starts for all 30 clubs.

The Richter Scale measures the probability in which the lead netminder loses his starting gig, whether that be due to injury, the emergence of a backup, or fighting a losing bout with Toskalitis ("1" being a safe sense of job security and "10", well, that's the equivalent of singlehandedly clearing out the entire network database for the company you once worked for). This formula was developed by top SNASA officials, and is mathematically and scientifically accurate, always. So don't fight it. I've said too much.

Weekly Planner: (Week 16: Jan 23 - Feb 5)

Super Six

Winnipeg (@ Car, @ NYR, @ Phi, @ TB, @ Fla, @ Mon).

Five-Start Specials

Boston (@ Was, vs Ott, vs Car, vs Pit, @ Was), Columbus (@ Nsh, @ TB, @ SJ, @ LA, @ Anh), Detroit (vs StL, @ Mon, @ Cgy, @ Van, @ Edm), Edmonton (vs SJ, @ Van, vs Col, vs Chi, vs Det), Montreal (vs Dal, vs Buf, @ NJ, vs Was, vs Wpg), New Jersey (vs Buf, vs NYR, vs Mon, @ Phi, vs Pit), Nashville (vs Cls, @ Chi, @ Min, @ Phi, vs StL), New York Islanders (@ Tor, vs Tor, @ Car, @ Ott, vs Buf), Ottawa (@ LA, @ Pho, @ Bos, vs NYI, vs Tor), Philadelphia (@ Fla, vs Wpg, vs Nsh, vs NJ, @ NYR), Pittsburgh (@ StL, vs Tor, @ Tor, @ Bos, @ NJ), San Jose (@ Edm, @ Cgy, vs Cls, vs Dal, @ Pho), Toronto (vs NYI, @ NYI, @ Pit, vs Pit, @ Ott), Washington (vs Bos, @ TB, @ Fla, @ Mon, vs Bos).

My Quads Hurt

Anaheim (@ Dal, @ Pho, vs Dal, vs Cls), Buffalo (@ NJ, @ Mon, vs NYR, @ NYI), Carolina (vs Wpg, vs NYI, @ Bos, vs LA), Chicago (vs Nsh, @ Van, @ Edm, @ Cgy), Colorado (vs Min, @ Edm, vs Min, vs Van), Dallas (vs Anh, @ Anh, @ SJ, vs Min), Florida (vs Phi, vs Was, vs Wpg, @ TB), Los Angeles (vs Ott, vs Cls, @ StL, @ Car), Minnesota (@ Col, vs Nsh, @ Col, @ Dal), New York Rangers (vs Wpg, @ NJ, @ Buf, vs Phi), St. Louis (@ Dal, vs Pit, vs LA, @ Nsh), Tampa Bay (vs Cls, vs Was, vs Wpg, vs Fla), Vancouver (vs Edm, vs Chi, vs Det, @ Col).

The Turkeys

Calgary (vs SJ, vs Det, vs Chi), Phoenix (vs Ott, vs Anh, vs SJ).

The Marian Gaborik part of this post:

Niklas Backstrom (Min - G): The struggling netminder missed three contests due to a stomach flu but has since returned. Harding has looked unspectacular as his replacement, and might be dealt to a club in need of a No. 1, but Backstrom has a lot of work to do if he's to reverse his fortunes and deliver those spectacular numbers his owners grew accustomed to earlier in the season.

Al Montoya (NYI - G) DTD: Montoya dressed for the first time since getting drilled by Kane on December 20, the impact resulting in a concussion. He'll back up Evgeni Nabokov, who's been effective of late, for the time being and remains an upside play should Nabby be dealt to a contender. He's got the pedigree, experience (18-11-8 career record with an alluring 2.38 GAA and a very solid .920 SV%), and opportunity (it's the Isles, c'mon) to be fantasy-relevant someday.

Jacob Markstrom (Fla - G) IR: The Sunrise Kitties' goalie of the future suffered a knee injury during practice on January 7 and underwent minor knee surgery to repair damages. He will remain out indefinitely. His is a name to keep on your watch list, monitor his progress; he has the potential to be a serviceable fantasy asset within these next two years (Theodore's 35, softer than a cashmere throw).

Five for Filing: (A travelin' band of misfits and outcasts, owned in less than 15% of Yahoo! leagues)

Curtis Sanford (Cls - G, owned in 10% of Yahoo! leagues): 2.27, .923 (Jan), wins fickle.

Scott Clemmensen (Fla - G, owned in 7% of Yahoo! leagues): 2.42, .930 (Jan), Theodore insurance.

Richard Bachman (Dal - G, owned in 6% of Yahoo! leagues): Lehtonen losing games = more opportunities?

Matt Hackett (Min - G, owned in 0% of Yahoo! leagues): NHL-ready, Harding being shopped.

Dustin Tokarski (TB - G, owned in 0% of Yahoo! leagues): Throwing darts, TB *needs* change.

Three Up, Three Down:

Three Stars of the Game

Jaroslav Halak (StL - G) ↑

Craig Anderson (Ott - G) ↑

Evgeni Nabokov (NYI - G) ↑

Three goalies trending downward

Niklas Backstrom (Min - G) ↓

Nikolai Khabibulin (Edm - G) ↓

Ryan Miller (Buf - G) ↓

Pulling the Goalie: (The Sit 'Em segment; those started in 40% of leagues or greater)

Niklas Backstrom (Min - G, 47-percent started): Owners are dialing back on Backstrom for a number of reasons: Harding is trying to make a case for more starts (though he's yet to present a compelling argument) and he's gunning for the lead role in The Land of 10,000 Lakes; he sports a 1-7-2 record over his past 10 games (3.07, .903); and he's been sidelined with a stomach flu. It's been a rough winter for the Finn.

Martin Brodeur (NJ - G, 41-percent started): The Devils are finding success, winning games despite the bend-but-don't-break production they've gotten out of Brodeur. In short he's still a very suspect play in fantasy until he demonstrates more consistency. His short-terms prospects don't look promising, either (vs Buf, vs NYR, vs Mon, @ Phi, vs Pit) .

Sons of Hierarchy: (Identifying and ranking the league's best backups)

1. Tuukka Rask (Bos - G)

2. Brian Elliott (StL - G)

3. Cory Schneider (Van - G)

4. Martin Biron (NYR - G)

5. Sergei Bobrovsky (Phi - G)

Credit goes out to CapGeek and NHLArchive.

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Updated Monday, Jan 23, 2012