H2H Faceoff: Playoffs Fast Approaching

Updated: March 8, 2011 at 8:20 pm 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.

With playoffs fast approaching both fantasy and the NHL, let’s take a minute to reflect on the beginning of the season. Who was your best draft pick this year? Who surprised you? Who was you big draft disappointment? Was this season what you expected it to be? Let us know your thoughts!

Four Games

Sabres (@Pit, @Bos, @Tor, Ott) Ryan Miller will continue to be the number-one goalie for the Sabres this week. After resting on Sunday, expect Miller between the pipes all week.

Blue Jackets (@StL, StL, LA, @Car) To follow Steve Mason and his team’s three consecutive wins, the Blue Jackets have lost four in a row. With back-to-back games, expect to see both Mason and Mathieu Garon in net this week, as the Blue Jackets attempt to end this losing streak.

Stars (@LA, Cgy, Min, LA) Kari Lehtonen has won four of his last five games, which is a nice change of pace for the recently slumping goalie. He’ll look to remain strong throughout this four game week for the Stars.

Oilers (@Phi, @Was, @Det, @Pit) Martin Gerber was sent back to the AHL as Nikolai Khabibulin is ready to get back in the net. With a heavy week, expect to see both Devan Dubnyk and Khabibulin start.

Kings (Dal, @Det, @Cls, @Dal) Jonathan Bernier shut out Phoenix last week, earning him the start against the Stars on Monday. After tonight, Jonathan Quick will likely start the majority of the week.

Senators (@NJ, @Fla, @TB, @Buf) Craig Anderson has won two of his last four. He seems to be meshing well with his new team and his fantasy value since the trade has definitely increased. Ottawa has a four-game week with back-to-back games, so Anderson could see a break, in which case, Curtis McElhinney will step in.

Blues (Cls, @Cls, Mon, Det) Jaroslav Halak may return as early as Monday for the Blue Jackets game. Halak hasn’t played since Feb 14 due to a hand injury, Ty Conklin and Ben Bishop have been covering the net in Halak’s absence. Bishop has gotten the majority of starts lately, but in his last game he allowed five goals against the Islanders. It looks like the Blues are ready to have Halak back in net.

Lightning (Was, Chi, Ott, @Fla) The Lightning have a busy week with back-to-back games but Dwayne Roloson will still get the majority of starts for the team. Mike Smith gave him a break last week but if Roloson can perform well, he could get all four starts.

Caps (@TB, Edm, Car, Chi) Semyon Varlamov is out for at least another week if not more, with a lower body injury. Michal Neuvirth has been in charge of the net while Varlamov is out, he’s won three of his last four and is a good fantasy option, as he is getting plenty of playing time in Varlamov’s absence.

Three Games

Ducks (NYR, @Col, Pho) Dan Ellis has won his last three games for the Ducks and will continue to play starting goalie until Hiller is able to return. So far, there is no word on when Jonas Hiller will return.

Thrashers (@Car, NJ, @Phi) Ondrej Pavelec is listed as DTD but should return this week if his wrist holds up. He was able to participate in practice on Friday. Chris Mason will continue to start for the Thrashers until Pavelec returns.

Bruins (@Mon, Buf, @NYI) The Bruins have two strong goalies backing them up. Tuukka Rask saved 33 goals against Ottawa and has proven himself as a reliable backup. Despite Rask’s performance, Tim Thomas continues to be the stronger goalie and will start this week for the Bruins.

Flames (@Dal, @Pho, Van) Miikka Kiprusoff has won three of his last four games played, including two shutouts against the Blues. He will continue to be the number-one goalie this week for the Flames.

Hurricanes (Atl, @Was, Cls) Cam Ward has won his last two starts and will continue to start for the Hurricanes in this three-game week for the Hurricanes.

Blackhawks (@Fla, @TB, @Was) Corey Crawford and the Blackhawks have won eight consecutive games now, there’s not doubt that Crawford will be in net this week. The Blackhawks do have back-to-back games, which could mean a Marty Turco appearance, but with this winning-streak, it’s likely they’ll stick with Crawford regardless.

Avs (@Min, Anh, @Nsh) Brian Elliott has yet to see a win with his new team, he allowed four goals on 19 shots against Edmonton on Saturday before he was yanked. Peter Budaj hasn’t been much better for the struggling Avalanche team. Check back game days to see who the Avs will start, although, it’d be better to just avoid these goalies all together.

Red Wings (LA, Edm, @StL) The Red Wings have back-to-back games this week, which means Jimmy Howard will likely see a break. If Chris Osgood is healthy, he’ll play backup and likely see his first start since his injury.

Panthers (Chi, Ott, TB) Tomas Vokoun will continue to be the number-one goalie for the Panthers as they struggle to notch a win. Vokoun was pulled in the game against the Habs giving Scott Clemmensen a chance to step up for his team. Despite the performance, Vokoun will likely get all three starts this week.

Wild (Col, @Nsh, @Dal) Niklas Backstrom seems to be struggling lately allowing at least three goals in each of the last three games he played. Jose Theodore stepped in this weekend and allowed only one goal on 41 shots. If Theodore plays well tonight (Sunday) against the Sabres, he could snag the number-one goalie spot from Backstrom.

Habs (Bos, @StL, @Pit) Carey Price has been exceptional on the road for the Habs. He allowed one goal on 41 shots against the Thrashers, shutout the Panthers and allowed only two goals on 45 shots against the Lightning. There’s no doubt who will be in net this week for Montreal.

Preds (@SJ, Min, Col) Pekka Rinne shutout the first-place Canucks on Thursday and will continue as the starting goalie for the Predators in this three-game week.

Devils (Ott, @Atl, NYI) Martin Brodeur has returned to the lineup and it looks like he wants to make it clear that he is the number-one goalie for the Devils. He’s won all four games since returning. Johan Hedberg was good in his absence and may get another start this week as the team faces back-to-back games, but Marty will be the starting goalie for the Devils.

Islanders (Tor, Bos, @NJ) Al Montoya has taken over the number-one goalie spot in the absence of Rick DiPietro and Kevin Poulin. He has won two of his last three games for the Islanders, he’ll get at least two starts this week, but with back-to-back games, Nathan Lawson should see a start as well.

Flyers (Edm, @Tor, Atl) The Flyers have lost their last four games, including getting shutout by the Rangers, 7-0 on Sunday. It seems the Flyers goalies have been sharing net time pretty equally, if you’ve got one of them, check the start goalies page on game days, to make sure you’re lines are set accordingly.

Coyotes (Van, Cgy, @Anh) Ilya Bryzgalov ended his teams five-game losing streak on Saturday against Detroit. He held strong in the shootout, stopping Pavel Datsyuk, Jiri Hudler and Todd Bertuzzi from scoring on him, leading his team to victory. The Coyotes have a fairly light week ahead of them, so Bryz should get the three starts.

Penguins (Buf, Mon, Edm) Marc-Andre Fleury hasn’t seen many wins since losing their star players for the season but that doesn’t change his number-one goalie status for the Penguins. The team has back-to-back games this week, so Brent Johnson may get a start as well.

Sharks (Nsh, Van, NYR) Antti Niemi has eight consecutive wins under his belt and has been much better than some may have expected when Niittymaki was first injured. He’s proven himself to be a strong goalie for his team and should be in net this week. Antero Niittymaki is hoping to return to the lineup later in the week.

Leafs (@NYI, Phi, Buf) James Reimer continues to be the number-one goalie for the Leafs. With wins against the Flyers and Penguins, he seems to have ensured his spot in the net for awhile.

Canucks (@Pho, @SJ, @Cgy) Expect Roberto Luongo in net this week for the Canucks. He has had more losses than wins in the last week but he’s allowed no more than two goals in his last three games.

Two Games

Rangers (@Anh, @SJ) Backup goalie, Martin Biron, is likely out for the rest of the season with an injury to his collarbone. Goalie Chad Johnson has been pulled up to serve as Lundqvist’s backup but the Rangers will rely heavily on Henrik Lundqvist in the stretch before the playoffs.

Home Sweet Home: Sharks, Penguins and Panthers
Pack Their Bags: Oilers, Senators, Rangers and Blackhawks

March 14-20
4 Games: Blue Jackets, Wild, Habs, Preds, Devils, Coyotes, Sharks, Leafs
3 Games: Ducks, Thrashers, Bruins, Sabres, Flames, Hurricanes, Blackhawks, Avs, Stars, Red Wings, Panthers, Kings, Islanders, Rangers, Senators, Flyers, Blues, Lightning, Canucks, Caps
2 Games: Oilers, Penguins

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