- Tristan H. Cockcroft, Fantasy
It only figures, in the week immediately after we discuss the many up-in-the-air goaltending situations around the league, what's the position hit by a few pretty devastating injuries? That's right, it's the goalies, a tough enough position to navigate in fantasy this season as it is. Here's a quick-hitting look at some of that news of the past holiday week:
Tomas Vokoun out four to six weeks: Your Thanksgiving might have been enjoyable, but it certainly wasn't for Vokoun, who suffered a torn ligament in his left thumb. He had surgery on Monday and was placed on injured reserve, and his owners shouldn't expect to have him back before Christmas. That's actually not as troubling news as it might seem, though, because the Predators do have one of the game's better backups in Chris Mason ready to step in. Mason might seem an unknown commodity, but don't forget, he did win four consecutive games and the playoff opener after Vokoun was lost to blood clots late last season, and on Saturday against a strong Detroit team he won his first start since Vokoun went down. Also, between this and last season, Mason is 16-6 with a 2.53 goals-against average, .917 save percentage and three shutouts in 30 games (26 starts) in a backup role, so it's clear the 30-year-old can play. Nashville's an awfully deep team on both sides of the puck, and when you think about it, it's a team that makes the goalie more than the other way around. That's a recipe that could make Mason every bit as valuable as Vokoun was in the early weeks, though with only a little more risk for a shaky night here or there. It's a bit late for fantasy owners to nab Mason off the free agent list -- he's taken in all but 4.5 percent of leagues -- but I'm a believer. Start him as a solid No. 2, perhaps even a No. 1.
Ducks goalies battling lower-body injuries: I'll admit, I was actually tempted to call Jean-Sebastien Giguere, 13-1 with a 2.21 GAA and .921 save percentage in 20 games, a No. 1 fantasy goalie in last week's column. Though he hadn't done what I'd call "outplaying" Ilya Bryzgalov, Giguere got the first extended look as the team's starter and mounted a massive hot streak to quell the debate over who would be the long-term answer in net. Problem is, Giguere sat out Sunday's game with soreness in his lower body after playing four games in a six-day span, something he was forced to do because Bryzgalov suffered a groin injury on Nov. 20 and was unable to provide him a breather. With both goalies out this past Sunday, rookie Michael Wall got the call and held the Flames to three goals on 22 shots in a winning effort. It was a one-shot deal for Wall, now slated to return to the team's AHL affiliate in Portland with Giguere and Bryzgalov on the mend, but keep tabs on the top two goalies' health in the next several days. There's little doubt the depth chart runs Giguere-Bryzgalov-Wall, but if Giguere's fatigue becomes an issue at any point, Wall wouldn't be a bad speculative pickup. Anaheim's a team that can make a fantasy star out of any goaltender, and with former Portland starter Michael Leighton snatched off waivers by the aforementioned Predators, Wall's next in line, should one of the top two guys go down.
Tristan Cockcroft discusses recent injuries affecting fantasy.