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Goaltending Dilemmas

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2014-15 Preview - Part 4
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Corey Abbott previews Washington, Anaheim, Arizona, Calgary and Edmonton

It's only three days into the NHL season and already there are goaltending controversies on many NHL teams.

In Washington, Braden Holtby looked to be the definitive number one netminder heading into the season but after giving up eight goals on 45 shots in less than four periods, Michal Neuvirth was put in net and responded by giving up only one goal on 28 shots.

Jonathan Bernier was outstanding in leading Toronto to a 3-1 over Philadelphia after James Reimer defeated the Canadiens in Montreal 4-3 the night before. While I think that Bernier will play in 50-plus games, I'm sure Reimer will have a lot to say about that.

The Devils dealt the ninth overall pick in the 2013 Draft to Vancouver for their goalie of the future Cory Schneider but in what is likely to be his last season, Martin Brodeur will see plenty of action. Look for a split in duties this season.

I'm not a big fan of Devan Dubnyk in Edmonton. He gave up three goals in the third period as the Oilers blew a 4-2 lead to the Jets Tuesday. I don't think that Jason LaBarbera is the answer but the Oilers could go after UFA Ilya Bryzgalov if Dubnyk has a rough time at the start of the season.

The Panthers have said that Jacob Markstrom is their goalie of the future but after spending the last three seasons shuffling between the NHL and AHL, they obviously thought he wasn't ready to take on the full time role and signed Tim Thomas. Thomas was the opening night starter and played very well after taking a year off.

The Blues have Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott fighting it out, with Jake Allen who could be the best of the bunch, waiting patiently in the minors. Look for the Blues to trade one of their netminders and have the other two battle it out.

The most intriguing battle is in Anaheim where it was thought that Jonas Hiller would be the number one but Viktor Fasth got the start on opening night. He gave up six goals but Hiller owners have to be concerned that he didn't get the start.

The last one I'll look at is in Tampa Bay where Anders Lindback and Ben Bishop will battle back and forth all season. Lindback got the first start but look for them to split the net until one or the other runs with it or blows it.

There will be other battles during the season but that is an awful lot this early in the season.

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Now to The Week Ahead.

WEEK OF OCTOBER 7-13

4 Games - Carolina, Florida, Los Angeles, New Jersey, New York Rangers, Phoenix

3 Games–Buffalo, Chicago, Colorado, Edmonton, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New York Islanders, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver,  Winnipeg

2 Games – Anaheim, Boston, Calgary, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, St. Louis, Washington

New Jersey, New York Rangers and Phoenix play all four of their games on the road.

Colorado, Montreal and Ottawa play three games on the road.

Nashville and Vancouver play three games at home.

Editors Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $2,500 Fantasy Hockey league tonight (Friday). It's just $10 to join and first prize is $500. Starts at 7pm ET. Here's the link.

INJURIES

(Click here to see the the current injury list.)

ANAHEIM

Games this week

vs. New York Rangers, vs. Ottawa

Notes

The Ducks will be the rested team at home Sunday as their opponents, the Ottawa Senators are in San Jose Saturday. It was a surprise to see Viktor Fasth in goal for the Ducks in the opener as it was assumed that Jonas Hiller would get the start. Giving up six goals did not help his cause. Dustin Penner had the inside track to play on the top line with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf but a poor training camp had him being a healthy scratch in the opener against the Avalanche. Hampus Lindholm, the Ducks first pick and sixth overall in the 2012 Draft, made the 23 man roster but was a healthy scratch in the first game. The return of Jakob Silfverberg to the opening lineup was not good news for Matt Beleskey owners as he is now a bottom-six forward.

BOSTON

Games this week

vs. Colorado, @ Columbus

Notes

The Bruins play only two games for the second week in a row as they gently ease into the NHL season. Expect to see Tuukka Rask in net for both games. Boston will open the season with David Krejci between Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic on the top line. Lucic is in top shape and could get 30 goals and 60-plus points to go with a very good plus/minus and 125 penalty minutes, which will make him one of the top fantasy players. Carl Soderberg is out with an ankle injury which will allow Jordan Caron to get into the lineup.

BUFFALO

Games this week

vs. Tampa Bay, vs. Columbus, @ Chicago

Notes

The Sabres will be rested on Saturday when they travel to Chicago while the Blackhawks host the New York Islanders Friday. Rasmus Ristolainen, the eighth overall pick in the 2013 Draft was a bit of surprise as he made the team out of training camp, a tough thing for a defenseman to do. Do not be surprised if he eventually gets sent to the minors. Putting Ristolainen in the lineup made Jamie McBain a healthy scratch Wednesday. Ville Leino has been a major disappointment since signing a long-term deal with Buffalo and is now out again with a cracked rib. Marcus Foligno should return Tuesday after missing the first two games of the season with a shoulder injury.

CALGARY

Games this week

vs. Montreal, vs. New Jersey

Notes

Rookie Sean Monahan made the team out of training camp and should have been taken in keeper leagues as he has a bright future. The Flames dealt for Calgary native Joe Colborne and the 23-year-old is thrilled to be coming home. He'll line up as the Flames third line center but will have little fantasy value. The Flames sent Roman Horak to the minors but he should return shortly. Jiri Hudler was healthy enough to return for the opener on Thursday after missing most of the preseason with a groin injury. He was on the top line alongside T.J. Galiardi and Mikael Backlund.  Karri Ramo got the start for the Flames Thursday and picked up the shootout loss despite being staked to a 3-0 lead in the first period.

CAROLINA

Games this week

@ Pittsburgh, @ Washington, vs. Los Angeles, vs. Phoenix

Notes

The Hurricanes play three games in four nights as part of their four game week so look for Anton Khudobin to play once with Cam Ward getting the start in the other three games. Carolina will be the tired team Friday when they play the Kings after the Hurricanes are in Washington Thursday. Ryan Murphy was recalled on Wednesday after spending the day in the minors for salary cap reasons. Alexander Semin (upper body) and Elias Lindholm (hand) should be healthy enough to play in the opener. A good news story may be in the making as the Hurricanes inked Manny Malhotra (eye) to a 25 game professional tryout with Carolina's farm team in Charlotte.

CHICAGO

Games this week

@ St. Louis, vs. New York Islanders, vs. Buffalo

Notes

The Blackhawks are the tired team Saturday when they face the rested Sabres after playing at home to the Islanders Friday. Brandon Saad got off to a great start on the third line with a goal and two assists. He is playing alongside Andrew Shaw and Jimmy Hayes. Congratulations goes out to Brandon Bollig who scored his first NHL goal in his 44th career game on Tuesday. He wanted to contribute more offensively this season and has completed his goal. Michal Handzus should pick up additional fantasy value playing on the second line with Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa. The Blackhawks gave up three power play goals in their first game.

COLORADO

Games this week

@ Toronto, @ Boston, @ Washington

Notes

Coach Patrick Roy made his presence felt in Colorado's opening game as he was fined $10,000 for pushing over the glass that separated the two benches in a win over Anaheim. He was upset that Ben Lovejoy stuck his knee out at rookie Nathan MacKinnon with a minute to go in a blowout. MacKinnon had two assists in his first game, becoming the youngest player since Hall of Famer Teeder Kennedy did it at age 18 years 27 days as MacKinnon was 18 years, 31 days Tuesday. Gabriel Landeskog may be out with a leg injury. Semyon Varlamov missed a shutout in the season opener by only seven seconds.

COLUMBUS

Games this week

@ Buffalo, vs. Boston

Notes

Marian Gaborik returned earlier in the week after attending the funeral for a grandparent. R.J. Umberger was not on either power play in practice early in the week. Fedor Tyutin suffered a lower body injury in practice Wednesday and is questionable for Friday's opener. Boone Jenner will start the season on the top line with Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik. If Sergei Bobrovsky even comes close to his Vezina Trophy season, the Blue Jackets will be in the thick of things come playoff time.

DALLAS

Games this week

@ Winnipeg, @ Minnesota

Notes

The Stars play only twice for the second week in a row and they will be the rested team Friday in Winnipeg after the Jets are in Minnesota Thursday. They are the tired team the next night in Minnesota. Valeri Nichushkin is a viable Calder Trophy candidate as he has sublime offensive skills. He'll end up on the top power play unit but it may not be right away. Scott Glennie, the Stars first round pick, eighth overall in the 2009 Draft, is out indefinitely with a knee injury. Trevor Daley played on Thursday after suffering an upper body injury during training camp.         

DETROIT

Games this week

vs. Phoenix, vs. Philadelphia

Notes

The Red Wings will be rested on Saturday when they play the Flyers who are hosting the Coyotes on Friday. Daniel Alfredsson suffered a groin injury Wednesday and missed practice Thursday. It's considered a minor injury so he may not miss any time. Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson is out with a groin injury and he could be gone for most if not all of October. Look for Jimmy Howard to play most games but he may not play in back-to-back games to give him some rest. It was a surprise but the Red Wings sent Gustav Nyquist to the minors as he did not have to clear waivers in order to go to Grand Rapids. Expect to see him in the NHL at some point this season.

EDMONTON

Games this week

vs. New Jersey, vs. Montreal, @ Toronto

Notes

The Oilers are rested Thursday when hosting the Canadiens who are in Calgary the night before. This is one of only four times that the Oilers are rested and playing the back-half of teams travelling to Alberta with Calgary getting the advantage of being the rested team 13 times this season. Devan Dubnyk's 2013-14 got off to a weak start as he gave up five goals on 28 shots in a 5-4 loss to the Jets. The Oilers could be looking for a netminder if Dubnyk cannot hang onto the job. Is Ilya Bryzgalov a possibility for the Oilers? Anton Belov made the Oilers after spending his career in the KHL. The 27-year-old defenseman could be a pleasant surprise as he had 26 points with Omsk Avangard last season.

FLORIDA

Games this week

@ Philadelphia, @ Tampa Bay, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Los Angeles

Notes

The Panthers play four times this week including three games in four nights so it seems that Tim Thomas and Jacob Markstrom will split the net.  The Panthers signed Brad Boyes to a contract and he will start the season with Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov while Marcel Goc will center Kris Versteeg and Tomas Fleischmann. Florida also inked Ryan Whitney just before the start of the season and he will help out on the power play, likely quarterbacking the second unit with Brian Campbell doing the same on the first power play. Dmitry Kulikov is healthy after a tough season in 2013 due to a shoulder injury. He's worth looking at in deeper leagues.

LOS ANGELES

Games this week

vs. New York Rangers, vs. Ottawa,  @ Carolina, @ Florida

Notes

The Kings play four times this week but the games are spread out and they do not play three in four nights. Nevertheless, Ben Scrivens will likely get his first start of the season this week. Los Angeles will be the rested team on Friday when they are in Carolina as the Hurricanes take on the Capitals in Washington Thursday. It could take Dustin Brown a bit of time to shake the cobwebs as he missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury. Good news in that Willie Mitchell will start the season in the Kings lineup after missing all of last season with a knee injury. Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli were both sent to the minors.

MINNESOTA

Games this week

@ Nashville, vs. Winnipeg, vs. Dallas

Notes

The Wild will be rested on Saturday when they take on the Stars who are in Winnipeg Friday. Nice move by the Wild as they signed Jason Pominville to a five-year/$28 million contract. He'll play on the top line with Zach Parise who is expecting a lot more from himself this season after scoring 18 goals and 38 points in 48 games last season. I'll be surprised if Mathew Dumba stays with the Wild this season. The defenseman needs ice time and the Wild made him a healthy scratch in the first game. Nino Niederreiter will start the season on the second line with Dany Heatley and Charlie Coyle while Mikael Granlund will see third line duty along with Matt Cooke and Kyle Brodziak.

MONTREAL

Games this week

@ Calgary, @ Edmonton, @ Vancouver

Notes

The Canadiens are in Western Canada all week and play three games in four nights so expect to see Peter Budaj in goal once in place of Carey Price. The Habs will be tired on Thursday in Edmonton after playing in Calgary Wednesday. Lars Eller had a big opening night with two goals and an assist. George Parros suffered a concussion and could be out for a while. It's a big blow for Montreal who picked up Parros in the offseason to help Brandon Prust deal with other team's enforcer. It looks like Prust is on his own again. Doug Murray is out four-six weeks with an upper body injury.

NASHVILLE

Games this week

vs. Minnesota, vs. Toronto. vs. New York Islanders

Notes

The Predators are rested when they take on the Islanders Saturday after New York takes on the Blackhawks in Chicago Friday. Look for Seth Jones to remain with the Predators all season and not be sent back to Portland of the WHL. Filip Forsberg could return for the Minnesota game as he has been out with a lower body injury. Pekka Rinne gave up three goals on only six shots before getting pulled on Thursday in a 4-2 loss to St. Louis. Viktor Stalberg could be out of action for four weeks with a shoulder injury. He has been placed on the injured reserve list.  

NEW JERSEY

Games this week

@ Edmonton, @ Vancouver, @ Calgary, @ Winnipeg

Notes

The Devils travel to the Canadian West this week and play all four games against the Western Canada teams. They will be tired on Tuesday when they travel to Vancouver as the Devils are in Edmonton Monday. Look for Cory Schneider and Martin Brodeur to share the net with Schneider playing in Vancouver as he returns for the first time since his offseason trade from the Canucks. It looks like Damien Brunner is not afraid to shoot the puck as he led the Devils with eight shots on goal in their opening loss to Pittsburgh. New Jersey put defenseman Alexander Urbom on waivers where he was picked up by the Capitals as they had to activate Patrik Elias.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

Games this week

vs. Phoenix, @ Chicago, @ Nashville

Notes

The Islanders will be the tired team on Saturday when they are in Nashville as they take on the Blackhawks in Chicago Saturday. Kyle Okposo gets a fantasy boost as he will begin the season on the first line with John Tavares and Matt Moulson. Travis Hamonic could be good to go after he suffered an undisclosed injury on Sunday although there is speculation that it is a concussion. Is this the year that John Tavares takes another leap forward and becomes a no-brainer top-five fantasy skater?

NEW YORK RANGERS

Games this week

@ Los Angeles, @ San Jose, @ Anaheim, @ St. Louis

Notes

The Rangers play all four on the road as they open the season on a nine game road trip. New York will play three games in four nights so look for Martin Biron to see his first action of the season. The Rangers will be the tired team on Tuesday when in San Jose after playing the Kings Monday. Ryan Callahan could return as early as Monday when the Rangers are in Los Angeles. He had offseason shoulder surgery. The news on Carl Hagelin is not as good as he is on long-term injured reserve and will have to sit out at least ten games. Don't be surprised to see Brad Richards on the wing with Derek Stepan and Rick Nash.

OTTAWA     

Games this week

@ Los Angeles, @ San Jose, @Anaheim

Notes

The Senators are in sunny California for all three games this week in the midst of a six game road trip. They will be tired on Sunday in Anaheim after playing the Sharks in San Jose Saturday. It was a surprise to many that the Senators sent down Mika Zibanejad but GM Bryan Murray said that Stephane Da Costa and Jean-Gabriel Pageau stepped up during training camp and Zibanejad didn't. Perhaps it will motivate Zibanejad to get back into the NHL quickly. Jason Spezza has been battling a groin injury but is expected to be fine and not miss any action. Cory Conacher will likely start the season on the second power play with Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur. Spezza, Milan Michalek and Bobby Ryan should give Ottawa a first line that will be able to compete with every other team in the Atlantic Division.

PHILADELPHIA

Games this week

vs. Florida, vs. Phoenix, @ Detroit

Notes

The Flyers will be rested on Friday when they host the Coyotes who are in Detroit Thursday. Philadelphia faces a rested Detroit team on Saturday at the Joe Louis Arena. The Flyers surprised some by keeping Scott Laughton out of training camp and then sending him back to junior hockey after making him a healthy scratch in Philadelphia's opener against Toronto. Steve Mason started the opener while Ray Emery sat on the bench. Expect the duo to split the action in the first 20 or so games. Brayden Schenn scored the lone Flyers goal and played on the top line with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell. The move sent Jakub Voracek down to the third line although he played the point on the first power play.

PHOENIX

Games this week

@  New York Islanders, @ Detroit, @ Philadelphia, @ Carolina

Notes

The Coyotes play all four games on the road as they end a five game road trip. Phoenix will play three games in four nights so look for Thomas Greiss to play once in place of usual number one starter Mike Smith. The Coyotes will be the tired team on Friday in Philadelphia as they are in Detroit Thursday. Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal are together on the second line and the duo got off to a great start in the opener Thursday as Vrbata picked up the hat trick while Hanzal chipped in with two assists. Chris Brown scored 29 goals in the AHL last season with 98 penalty minutes and had 17 penalty minutes in his first game of the season in only 5:27 minutes of action.

PITTSBURGH

Games this week

vs. Carolina, @ Florida, @ Tampa Bay

Notes

The Penguins will be in Florida on the weekend where they will be the rested team on Friday against the Panthers who are in Tampa Bay the previous night. The Penguins will be the tired team on Saturday in Tampa Bay as the Lightning have the night off Friday. Marc-Andre Fleury quieted his distracters Thursday at least temporarily by shutting out the Devils. James Neal started but was unable to finish Thursday's game as he played only 3:49 minutes and likely re-aggravated the upper body injury that kept him out of action during the preseason. Consider him day-to-day for now. Look for Joe Vitale to take his spot on the second line with Evgeni Malkin and Jussi Jokinen, although Beau Bennett could also see some time there. Tomas Vokoun is out three-six months after doctors removed blood clots from his pelvis. Jeff Zatkoff will back up Fleury for now.

ST. LOUIS

Games this week

vs. Chicago, vs. New York Rangers

Notes

The Blues play twice again this week and will have had the easiest time in the NHL as they have yet to go on the road. Brenden Morrow had his work visa come through and was able to play Thursday in the opener as he will get second line minutes to start the season  with Derek Roy and Chris Stewart. Coach Ken Hitchcock will use three lines on the power play to start the season as David Backes, Patrik Berglund and T.J. Oshie will form the first unit, while Derek Roy, Chris Stewart and Vladimir Tarasenko will line up together and  Morrow, Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Sobotka will also see action. The Blues' power play will use two groups of point men as Jay Bouwmeester will be alongside Alex Pietrangelo, and Kevin Shattenkirk will be paired with Alexander Steen. With so many getting power play time, it takes away from the value of all in fantasy pools.

SAN JOSE

Games this week

vs. New York Rangers, @ Vancouver, vs. Ottawa

Notes

The Sharks will be rest on Tuesday when they host the Rangers as New York will be in Los Angeles Monday. Tommy Wingels had a goal and five points in five preseason games and his offensive prowess continued into the regular season as he scored Thursday in the Sharks opener. Brad Stuart sat out the season opener with a lower body injury. The Sharks got off to a rough start as they were 0-7 on the power play. It appears that Joe Thornton will take a lot less to remain in a Sharks uniform than he could get as an unrestricted free agent so expect him to stay in San Jose as he is eligible to become a UFA at the end of the season.

TAMPA BAY

Games this week

@ Buffalo, vs. Florida, vs. Pittsburgh

Notes

The Lightning will be rested on Saturday when they face a tired Penguins team who play the Panthers in Miami Friday. The move shocked a lot of people but the Lightning sent Jonathan Drouin who was selected third overall in the 2013 Draft back to junior hockey without giving him a sniff of regular season action. Anders Lindback picked up the opening night assignment in net but look for Ben Bishop to see just as much action. Sami Salo missed Thursday's game with an upper body injury. He is injury prone and usually misses 15-20 games per season. He has value in fantasy pools with daily moves as you can place him in and out of your lineup without the worry that an injury will keep him out all week. Martin St. Louis was named captain of the Lightning and Steve Stamkos thought it was the right decision.  

TORONTO

Games this week

vs. Colorado, @ Washington, vs. Edmonton

Notes

Jonathan Bernier showed Leaf Nation why he was highly regarded as he stole a game against the Flyers in a 3-1 win as Philadelphia outplayed Toronto. Phil Kessel will be a Toronto Maple Leaf for a long time as he inked an eight year extension. Mark Fraser was placed on the injured reserve list after twisting his knee, so Morgan Rielly will draw into the lineup. The Leafs opened up the season with two road wins for the first time in their history. Dave Bolland scored twice in his second game in a Toronto uniform and he could see more time as a top-six forward this season. James van Riemsdyk looks quicker this season and thanks must be given to former figure skating champion Barbara Underhill as the two worked together on his skating form during the off-season.

VANCOUVER

Games this week

vs. New Jersey, vs. San Jose, vs. Montreal

Notes

The Canucks play all three games at home and will be rested on Tuesday when they take on a tired New Jersey team who are in Edmonton Monday. Alex Burrows has the great assignment of starting the season with Daniel and Henrik Sedin. David Booth returned to the lineup after getting injured during training camp and played on the third line with Brad Richardson and Mike Santorelli. The Canucks sent both first round picks Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk back to the CHL where they will get plenty of playing time.  Both have a good chance to crack Team Canada's U20 World team. The Canucks picked up Zac Dalpe and Jeremy Welsh from Carolina in exchange for Kellan Tochkin and a fourth round pick.

WASHINGTON

Games this week

vs. Carolina, vs. Colorado

Notes

Martin Erat played only 9:01 minutes during the opener Tuesday and was confused. Imagine how he feels now as he saw only 6:30 minutes on Thursday. They sent Michael Latta to the minors after picking up Alexander Urbom off waivers. Mikhail Grabovski's Washington career got off to an outstanding start as he became the first Capital to score a hat trick on opening night. He has five points in two games. Braden Holtby gave up five goals on 34 shots in the opener and followed it up with only eight saves on 11 shots before being pulled. Michal Neuvirth held down the fort Thursday as he came in cold but managed to stop 27 of 28 shots as the Capitals came back from a three goal deficit to beat Calgary in a shootout 5-4.

WINNIPEG

Games this week

@ Minnesota, vs. Dallas, vs. New Jersey

Notes

The Jets play three games in four nights so expect to see Al Montoya to play once in place of Ondrej Pavelec. Winnipeg will be a tired team Friday when at home to the Stars as the Jets play in Minnesota Thursday. Jacob Trouba had a great NHL debut as he had a goal and an assist to lead the Jets to a 5-4 comeback win over Edmonton. Tobias Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien were paired together as Byfuglien's normal defense partner, Grant Clitsome was injured. Enstrom will play alongside Zach Bogosian when everyone is healthy. The Jets signed their 2013 first round pick, defenseman Josh Morrissey, to an entry level contract.

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