H2H Faceoff: Feeling that Playoff Pressure

Updated: March 22, 2011 at 9:24 am by Mollie Krupp

Head-to-Head Faceoff is a weekly column by Mollie Krupp which will run every Sunday and continue into Monday. Here you’ll find a breakdown of each team’s schedule for the week as well as which goalies you can expect to see in net so you can make sure to set your fantasy rosters accordingly.

Is the pressure of playoffs getting to goalies? In the past week, it seemed like a significant amount of starting goalies were pulled from the net. Now, every goalie has an off night, was it a coincidence that so many were having off nights at the same time or is the pressure starting to get to teams and their goalies as some are hungry for playoff starts and others are anxious for playoffs to begin?

Four Games

Bruins (NJ, Mtl, NYR, @Phi) Tim Thomas was pulled in the Bruins game against the Leafs, after allowing four goals on 22 shots. He is still expected to start on Tuesday (March 22) as well as the majority of games left in the regular season. For back-to-back games Tuukka Rask will step in.

Panthers (@NYR, @Chi, @Buf, @Pit) After Scott Clemmensen shutout the Leafs last Thursday he was rewarded with another start against the Islanders but his team lost after he allowed three goals. It seems that Clemmensen and Tomas Vokoun have been sharing time in net. Vokoun is up next but check back game days as they will likely continue to share starts throughout the week.

Senators (@Car, @NYR, Was, @Atl) Craig Anderson is listed as DTD, but the good news is that he’s signed with the Senators for the next four years after proving himself to be worthy of a spot on their team after the trade with the Avs. Curtis McElhinney has also been doing better since being traded to Ottawa, he’ll play while Anderson is DTD. He’s won his last two games for the Sens.

Flyers (Was, Pit, @NYI, Bos) Sergei Bobrovsky was in net Saturday for the Flyers, he allowed only two goals on 30 shots beating the Stars. The Flyers have a four-game week with back-to-back games, so you can expect both Bob and Brian Boucher in net this week for Philly.

Penguins (@Det, @Phi, NJ, Fla) Brent Johnson will start the week in net for the Penguins against Detroit giving Marc-Andre Fleury a break before he takes on the rest of the week. Fleury allowed four goals against the Rangers on Sunday and Johnson allowed one goal in his last contest against the Senators.

Three Games

Ducks (@Dal, @Nsh, @Chi) Jonas Hiller has been participating in practices with his team but don’t get too excited just yet, although this is an improvement, there isn’t any set date for his return. He hopes to keep practicing and see an increasing improvement so he can be back in the lineup as soon as possible. Ray Emery started against both the Blues and Kings last week, giving up only one goal in each of those games. He’s proving himself to be a reliable backup in Hiller’s absences. Dan Ellis hasn’t been as strong as backup Emery as of late, he’s allowed four goals in both of his last two starts for the Ducks. If Ellis continues on this streak, Emery could see a good amount of starts while waiting for Hiller to return.

Thrashers (@NYI, Van, @Ott) Ondrej Pavelec has allowed three goals in each of his last five games played recording only one win for the Thrashers during that stretch. He was pulled after allowing three goals on 11 shots against Buffalo on Saturday, Chris Mason did no better in his relief, allowing five goals on 17 shots. Pavelec will continue to start for the Thrashers this week, but with his recent record, it may be best to go with another option.

Sabres (@Mtl, Fla, NJ) With Buffalo fighting for a playoff spot, Ryan Miller will be working overdrive in net for the Sabres. He’s one won of his last three, allowing four goals in the team’s game against the Preds.  If you’ve got him, play him, this team is hungry for some W’s.

Flames (@LA, @SJ, @Edm) Miikka Kiprusoff was pulled in the game against the Ducks on Sunday, Henrik Karlsson stepped in for him but couldn’t dig his team out of the hole that Kip had created by allowing three goals within the first six minutes of the game. Despite this rough performance, Kip will still be in net the majority of the week.

Hurricanes (Ott, @TB, TB) Cam Ward has won two of his last four games for the Hurricanes. With a strong goalie like Ward on the Hurricanes team, it doesn’t make much sense to play Peters in this last stretch. Expect to see a lot of Ward in this last stretch of the regular season. He’ll get the majority, if not all, of the starts.

Avalanche (Cls, Tor, @LA) Brian Elliott allowed only two goals on 33 shots against the Oilers, his first win with the Avs and the Avs first win in quite awhile. Peter Budaj and Elliott seem to be sharing starts as neither the goalies or their team can seem to find the rhythm they need to win. Your best bet is to avoid them, but if you insist on playing either, check game days to see who the Avs go with.

Blue Jackets (@Col, @Pho, Van) The Blue Jackets have won one of their last four matchups, Mathieu Garon got the most recent win for this team, even though he allowed four goals. The Blue Jackets continue to struggle, it seems Steve Mason is getting the majority of starts these days with Garon as backup for back-to-back games. It’d be best for your fantasy team to avoid these goalies and play your other options, if possible.

Red Wings (Pit, Van, Tor) Joey MacDonald made a somewhat unexpected appearance in Columbus for the Wings on Thursday, as most fans were expecting a return from Chris Osgood. Osgood is looking to return soon, but in the meantime MacDonald is serving as backup, his last appearance included a shutout against the Blue Jackets. Jimmy Howard will start for the Wings, but for back-to-back games, expect to see MacDonald until Ozzie returns.

Oilers (@Nsh, @STL, Cgy) Both Devan Dubnyk and Nikolai Khabibulin lost their last two starts. Dubnyk may very well get the majority of wins in this last stretch before playoffs, but it shouldn’t much matter for your fantasy team, if you’ve still got one of these goalies on your roster, you may want to consider other options to give your team a boost before the fantasy season comes to an end.

Kings (Cgy, SJ, Col) Jonathan Quick lost the last two games he started but this shouldn’t say much for the strong Kings goalie. He will continue to get the majority of starts for his team. The Kings face a week at home, expect to see Quick in net.

Habs (Buf, @Bos, Was) Carey Price allowed five goals on twelve shots against the Rangers and was pulled from the game. Alex Auld took his place but the team was too far behind to come back. Auld started against the Wild on Sunday and allowed only one goal on 31 shots. Price wasn’t fully to blame for his performance in Friday’s game, as his team didn’t offer him much support. Expect to see him in net this week as he looks to redeem himself.

Predators (Edm, Anh, Dal) The Preds are on a three-game winning streak with the help of both Pekka Rinne and Anders Lindback. Rinne has been great for his team as of late, saving 39 shots and allowing only one goal in his game against Detroit. Rinne will start this week at home for the Preds.

Devils (@Bos, @Pit, @Buf) The Devils face back-to-back games this week which could mean a start for Johan Hedberg and a break for Martin Brodeur who has had 11 consecutive starts. Brodeur shutout the Blue Jackets on Sunday, although it may have been an easy win, he only had to stop 13 shots. He’ll play the majority of the week.

Islanders (@TB, Atl, Phi) Rick DiPietro returned to the lineup on Saturday and beat the Panthers, allowing three goals on 32 shots. Expect to see both Al Montoya and DiPietro in net this week as they battle for the top goalie spot on their team.

Rangers (Fla, Ott, @Bos) Henrik Lundqvist is in need of a day off, as he has a sore neck. His pain didn’t stop him from beating the Penguins and stopping 38 of 40 shots for his team. Check back game days to see if he decides to take a night off, so you can set your lines accordingly.

Coyotes (StL, Cls, SJ) Before losing to Chicago on Sunday, Ilya Bryzgalov had four consecutive wins for the Coyotes. Jason LaBarbera held strong against Vancouver allowing only one goal on 47 shots giving his team a fifth-straight win before they fell to the Blackhawks. The Coyotes stay at home this week and you can expect Bryz to man the net.

Sharks (Cgy, @LA, @Pho)  Antti Niemi has continued in net for his team, despite the return of Antero Niittymaki. Niemi was pulled from the game against Chicago, giving Niitty a chance to step in, however Niemi then started and won the next three games for the Sharks. Niemi’s been playing hard and the Sharks face back-to-back games this week, so he could see a break giving Niitty a chance in net.

Blues (@Pho, Edm, @Min) Jaroslav Halak shutout the Kings last Thursday, but quickly fell to the Sharks on Saturday being pulled after allowing three goals on 10 shots. Despite his poor performance Saturday, he’ll get the chance to redeem himself this week for the Blues in their three-game week.

Lightning (NYI, @Car, Car) Dwayne Roloson has lost his last two contests but that doesn’t mean he won’t start this week. He’s allowed at least two goals in his last five starts and continues to be somewhat inconsistent but he’ll be in net most of the week.

Leafs (@Min, @Col, @Det) James Reimer continues to be the go-to goalie for the Leafs winning three of his last four starts. Expect to see him in the majority of this week.

Canucks (@Det, @Atl, @Cls) Cory Schneider has won the last four starts he’s had, he’s proven himself to be a strong and reliable backup goalie for the Canucks. Roberto Luongo will continue to start for the Canucks this week but check back game days as Schneider may make an appearance too.

Capitals (@Phi, @Ott, @Mtl) Michal Neuvirth shutout the Devils on Friday making 33 saves for his team. It’s likely Neuvirth will get the majority of starts this week, but Semyon Varlamov will be looking to make his return.

Two Games

Blackhawks (Fla, Anh) Corey Crawford was pulled last week after allowing three goals on 10 shots against Dallas. Marty Turco stepped in for him but allowed two more goals leading to a loss for the Blackhawks. Before beating the Coyotes on Sunday and allowing only one goal, Crawford had allowed three or more goals in his previous six games. He’s still the go-to goaltender for the Blackhawks, as he’s proven himself to be a more reliable goalie than backup Turco. Play him with confidence, as he will get the majority of starts in the upcoming weeks.

Stars (Anh, @Nsh) Kari Lehtonen has won two of his last five games, both wins being shutouts. Look for Andrew Raycroft to step in for back-to-back games for the Stars, but expect Lehtonen to get the majority of starts the rest of the regular season.

Wild (Tor, StL) Niklas Backstrom has lost four consecutive games now for the Wild. The team faces a light week and that might be for the best as they seem to be struggling to produce wins lately. Backstrom will likely start in this two-game week.

Home Sweet Home: Wild, Blackhawks, Coyotes, Preds, Kings, Wings
Pack Their Bags: Caps, Canucks, Leafs, Devils, Flames, Panthers

March 28-April 3
Four Games: Ducks Blackhawks Avs Wings Sabres Hurricanes Blue Jackets Stars Wild Rangers Flyers Blues Lightning
Three Games: Thrashers Bruins Flames Oilers Panthers Kings Canadiens Predators Devils Islanders Senators Penguins Sharks Leafs Canucks Capitals
Two Games: Coyotes

We hope you enjoyed our latest as much as we enjoyed writing it. If there are glaring omissions let your voice be heard in the comments. Regardless, make sure to take all of the advice in and continue to check our renowned starting goalies section, which is updated all day until game time and follow us on Twitter @DailyFaceoff

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