Unlikely Goalies Rack Up Fantasy Stats
(2/29/12) With the hockey pool season taking the final turn for home, a collection of unlikely goalies secured the fantasy pipes in Tuesday night's action. In Phoenix, Mike Smith kept his team in the game and then shut the door on the Canucks in the shootout for a 2-1 Coyotes' win. Mike Smith is 11-0-1 in the month of February, and he qualifies as one of the biggest surprises of the 2011-2012 fantasy season. He's now 5th in wins with a record of 29-14-7, with 4 shutouts, in 50 games.
Jonathan Bernier got the start in Minnesota on Tuesday and shutout the lowly Wild 4-0. Although Bernier played well, he will continue to play second fiddle to Jonathan Quick. Bernier has played in only 13 of the Kings' 64 games so far this year. And, with LA pushing for the playoffs, the team will ride their workhorse to make the cut-off. (Most likely wearing Quick out in the process, so if the Kings do make the playoffs, we don't expect much.)
While in San Jose, Antti Niemi quietly picked up his 25th win of the year, while Ilya Bryzgalov continued his confusing fantasy performance in '11-12, picking up his 13th regulation loss. Bryz is now 22-13-6 (22-19 if losses are combined), which is a definite disappointment for fantasy GMs. It was a 1-0 shutout for Niemi, his 5th of the year.
In Ottawa, Rob Lehner got his second straight start and win in the absence of Craig Anderson, who is recovering from hand surgery following his kitchen mishap last week. It is very likely that the Sens will continue to ride Lehner, meaning fantasy owners in dire straits could maneuver him into their starting line-ups in an emergency situation. Just be ready to pull the plug because Ottawa surely wants to give newly acquired Ben Bishop a chance to play.