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Nico Daws, Devils (Last 5: 3-2-0, 0.905 Sv%, 2.82 GAA)
Driven to action because both Jonathan Bernier and Mackenzie Blackwood suffered serious injuries — and Jon Gillies proved he can’t really play at the NHL level — the 21-year-old third-round pick was better than expected. His raw numbers aren’t great, but backed by a very strong Devils top six, Daws is at least giving New Jersey a chance to win every night. He’s started five straight games and with wins over the Blues and Avs, expect that trend to continue as the Devils host the struggling Jets and Ducks in the coming days. Daws is definitely worth considering for a start in these matchups.
Vitek Vanecek, Capitals (Since returning from injury: 3-0-0, .941 Sv%, 2.00 GAA)
Vanecek wasn’t great against the Flames, allowing four goals on 35 shots, but the important thing is that he managed to get his third straight win. The Caps haven’t been very good in 2022, but the tide seems to have turned with Vanecek, who temporarily supplanted Ilya Samsonov for the starting job. With the second half on a back-to-back Wednesday against the Oilers, then another on March 17-18 against the Jackets and Canes, Samsonov will have a chance to return to the No. 1 gig, but his overall performance this season has been disappointing. His leash won’t be long as the Caps battle for playoff berth, and if the Caps offense can continue to provide good goal support — she’s scored 14 goals in three games — Vanecek should be a goaltender. fantastic precious.
Robin Lehner, Golden Knights (Since returning from injury: 2-2-0, .929 Sv%, 2.04 GAA)
We’ve been waiting for Lehner to set it up and his recent play has been quite encouraging. His only bad start so far in March was a 5-2 loss to the Bruins when he allowed four goals on 35 shots, but otherwise he’s been very good, allowing just four goals in the three more games. The problem has been the Knights play in front of him; they lack key players and their confused roster struggles to provide consistent goal support, not to mention a deplorable power play that ranks 24th in the league. Start Lehner with confidence, but know that wins will be hard to come by as Vegas loses its grip on the Pacific and faces an uphill battle for a playoff spot.
Anton Forsberg, Senators (12-10-2, .921 Sv%, 2.69 GAA)
It’s a small miracle that Forsberg has a winning record on a team that goes to the lottery, and with Matt Murray once again injured, Forsberg is the de facto No. 1. The Sens limited the Blues to just 23 shots, the second-lowest tally Forsberg has faced this season, but usually Forsberg is a good source of saves behind the pitiful Sens defense, having made at least 40 saves in three consecutive games before Tuesday’s win. I don’t know how long the Senators can keep their momentum going, but get both White Quail and Josh Norris coming back from injury gives their roster a huge boost. Forsberg deserves a spot in most standard leagues to pick up some saves even if the Sens are still not very good.
Mikko Koskinen, Oilers (19-9-3, .904 Sv%, 3.05 GAA)
Deep sigh – Koskinen reluctantly makes the roster even though he may be the league’s least reliable No.1, a job he’s inherited multiple times this season either because mike smith plays poorly or is injured. Occasionally, Koskinen has good performances, but they tend to appear haphazardly, and if it weren’t for the Oilers’ offensive potential, there’s no way he’ll come close to 20 wins. Koskinen is an option for desperate fantasy managers, but just beware that he’s never been in the starting job for long, and it’s a safe bet that Stuart Skinner will factor into the equation at some point.
Honorable Mention: Karel Vejmelka, Coyotes; Jeremy Swayman, Bruins; Jacob Markström, Flames; Antti Raanta, hurricanes; Pavel Francouz, Avalanche; Jake Oettinger and Braden Holtby, stars; Sergei Bobrovsky, Panthers; Cal Petersen, Kings; Juuse Saros, Predators; Ilya Sorokin, Islanders; Igor Shesterkin, Rangers; Carter Hart, Flyers
Alex Nedeljkovic, Red Wings (Since Feb. 1: 2-5-0, 0.863 Sv%, 4.63 GAA)
The only reason Nedeljkovic keeps getting playing time is because Thomas Greiss somehow got worse. The Wings’ 9-2 loss to the Coyotes on Tuesday was ugly, but even uglier, Nedeljkovic was taken out and then forced back to light up even more. The defense isn’t doing any favors, but it shows that while the Wings have a lot of exciting young talent, they’re still not a very good team. Dropping Nedeljkovic would be too drastic because, surely, this is the lowest point of his season, but obviously he’s not worth starting at the moment.
John Gibson and Anthony Stolarz, Ducks (since Jan. 1 combined: 9-13-2, 0.894 Sv%, 3.52 GAA)
What was one of the Ducks’ greatest strengths at the start of the season has truly become a liability. Gibson, in particular, was uncharacteristically poor, allowing five goals on just 13 shots Tuesday against Chicago before being called out. It’s the seventh time in eight games that he’s allowed at least four goals, and after looking like a surefire playoff team in the first few months, the Ducks have really faltered and are in danger of missing the playoffs. Gibson needs to be benched until he can turn around, and with four straight road games to come, that could be a while.
Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek, Maple Leafs (since Mar. 1 combined: 2-2-0, 0.855 Sv%, 4.55 GAA)
Campbell’s poor game has now extended to three months after going 12-4-1 in October and November, and it’s starting to look like more than just a setback. Mrazek’s play was also concerning as he was unable to stop the bleeding even though the Leafs signed him as insurance. In a limited squad, the Leafs just don’t have many options, and it doesn’t look like any extra help is coming after their acquisition Carter Hutonwho remained in the AHL.
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Great goal support is the only reason fantasy managers should start Campbell or Mrazek, but otherwise those wins have come at the cost of a good save percentage and goals-against average. The only hope is that Campbell and Mrazek find a way to turn the tide, but the outlook just isn’t good in a tough conference, and fantastic managers may want to ask for goalie help if they don’t. don’t want to be too dependent on this pair.
Jordan Binnington and Ville Husso, Blues (since Mar. 1 combined: 0-3-1, .889 Sv%, 3.05 GAA)
When Binnington wasn’t playing well, at least Husso was reliable. Now, neither was very good, and it was quite an embarrassing effort in Tuesday’s loss to lowly Sens. They’ve lost four in a row and it looks like they’ll go with a rotation until one emerges as the starter again. It’s a very inopportune time with the playoff races heating up, and the pressure will be all the greater. If forced to make a choice, Husso still looks like the better goalkeeper and the analytics definitely favor him, but a reminder that while Binnington looks like he was going to take a back seat for good this season, he has somehow forced her back into the picture.
It’s a fantastic manager’s worst nightmare, although the upside is that the Blues have a deep roster and should knock him down before long.
Dishonorable mention: Marc-André Fleury, Blackhawks; Darcy Kuemper, Avalanche; Elvis Merzlikins, Blue Jackets; Jonathan Quick, Kings; Cam Talbot and Kaapo Kahkonen, wild; Samuel Montembeault and Andrew Hammond, Canadians; Philipp Grubauer and Chris Driedger, Kraken; Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning; Connor Hellebuyck, Jets