There are a couple of noteworthy names making long-awaited returns, and there’s plenty of action with a jam-packed schedule. Use this fantasy hockey goalie guide to stay up to date with all things related to goaltending.
Fantasy Hockey Goalie Report
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Returning to the Crease
Andrei Vasilevskiy, TBL: Vasilevskiy finally got back in the net after missing 15 games with a fractured foot. He showed no signs of rust in his return, as the Maple Leafs put him to work. He stopped 48 of 49 shots, including a save of the year candidate, en route to a 4-1 victory. Louis Domingue performed admirably in Vasilevskiy’s absence, capturing 11 wins, but you can expect Vasilevskiy to get the bulk of the workload going forward. The Lightning go on an all-Canadian road trip this week, visiting Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton.
Matt Murray, PIT: Murray (lower body) was activated off injured reserve, but hasn’t started a game yet. He holds a 4-5-1 record with a disappointing 4.08 GAA and .877 save percentage. He may have to earn the net back from Casey DeSmith, who is 10-5-4 with a 2.46 GAA and .923 save percentage. The Penguins have four games this week, starting with Anaheim, then a back-to-back with Washington and Minnesota, then ending with Carolina. Murray should get one of the middle games, and potentially more should he fare well in his return.
Carter Hutton, BUF: Hutton returned to the crease after missing three games with an upper-body injury. He played as well as he has all season, stopping 25 of 26 pucks in a 3-1 win over the Coyotes on Thursday. His Sabres have three games this week, versus Florida, Washington, and Anaheim. The latter two being a back-to-back. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Hutton start two of those contests while Linus Ullmark gets the other.
Robin Lehner, NYI: Lehner was back in the net last Monday, and has since posted a pair of losses to the Penguins and Golden Knights. He hasn’t won a game since Oct 30, but the fault isn’t solely on his shoulders, as his Islanders only posted 10 goals in that seven-game stretch. Thomas Greiss is the starter, but both goaltenders should see the ice early as the week kicks off with a back-to-back against Colorado and Arizona, followed by games against Vegas and Dallas. All are on the road, where the Islanders are 7-7-1.
Why the Lightning's Andrei Vasilevskiy is the ‘closest thing’ there is to Dominik Hasek
— The Athletic Tampa Bay (@TheAthleticTB) December 15, 2018
Arizona Coyotes: The Coyotes received potentially devastating news, in that Antti Raanta could miss the remainder of the season because of his lower body injury. Raanta only appeared in 47 games last season and has been plagued by injuries during his time in the desert. Some good news, however, is that Darcy Kuemper returned from his lower body injury. He was defeated by Boston and Buffalo, and could be looking at a timeshare with Adin Hill going forward. Arizona has four games this week, facing the Islanders, Canadiens, Avalanche, and the Sharks.
Carolina Hurricanes: Curtis McElhinney (lower body) is considered day-to-day, but hasn’t played since December 5. Petr Mrazek has been the starter in his absence, with Scott Darling summoned from the AHL to back him up. Mrazek has just one win in his past six games, while Darling has one win in his past five outings. Carolina hosts Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Boston this week, sporting a 7-5-4 home record. The latter two are a back-to-back, so expect Darling in one of those games, with Mrazek getting the other two, should McElhinney remain sidelined.
Philadelphia Flyers: Brian Elliott (lower body) was sent back to Philadelphia, which doesn’t bode well for a return anytime soon. Michal Neuvirth returned home to be with his expecting wife, forcing the Flyers to call up Alex Lyon. He will back up Anthony Stolarz, who has struggled as the acting starter. He holds a 2-2-2 record with a 3.70 GAA and .887 save percentage. His Flyers have four games this week, facing the Red Wings, Predators, Blue Jackets, and Rangers. The latter two are a back-to-back, meaning a probably start for Lyon, barring a Neuvirth return before then.
NHL Teams with Four Games
This is an unusual week, where more than half the league has four games, with each having a back-to-back involved. 18 teams to be exact, including the following: Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights.
NHL Teams with Two Games
Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers are the lone team with just two games this week, hosting the Blues and Lightning, where they play much better (10-4-1 home record versus 8-8-2 road record). Mikko Koskinen has been the starter under Coach Ken Hitchcock, and should continue to get most of the starts. Cam Talbot has fared better recently, winning a pair of games in early December. The wins snapped a six-game winless streak that dated back to October 28. He’ll need a few more solid performances before he can be considered more than a backup at this point.
For more great fantasy hockey talk, listen in on Chris Meaney and Neil Parker on the Fantrax Fantasy Hockey Podcast, as they hit on all the injuries, streamers, and recent trends you need to know to stay on top of the fantasy ice.
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