Projected starting goalies for round one of the NHL playoffs

Projected starting goalies for round one of the NHL playoffs

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Here are the projected starting goalies for round one of the NHL playoffs. Because teams usually stick with one goalie for the duration of the post-season, we will not be updating this page for the remainder of the first round unless there is an anticipated goalie change. We will, however, be back to update the goalies for round two and beyond. As a bonus for our readers, we've included a brief synopsis of what to expect of each goalie in the first round.

Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins - Fleury is the probable starter for Wednesday's game against the Senators. He's in much the same boat as Ray Emery as the Penguins and Senators are expected to duke it out for seven games, so if you pick him, make sure you have the flexibility to make a potential change for the second round because this series could go either way. It should also be noted that backup Jocelyn Thibault had an outstanding bounce back season and coach Michel Therrien could turn to him should the Pens fall behind in the season early on.

Ray Emery, Ottawa Senators - Emery is the probable starter for Wednesday's game against the Penguins. Emery heads the list of second tier goalies worthy of selection in playoff pools. After enjoying a major breakthrough season, he'll be asked to shoulder the entire load in the playoffs but needs to deliver immediately as the Senators and their fans have little patience. It doesn't help that established Martin Gerber, who sparkled in limited action over the season's second half, is waiting at the end of the bench for his turn.

Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
- Lundqvist is the probable starter for Thursday's game against the Thrashers. He's a great first round selection due to the fact that Kevin Weekes is still not healthy and because the Rangers have just as good shot as any team to score an upset in the first round. However, as is the case in any series that is bound to go either way, if you pick him for your pool, you must brace yourself for the possibility that Lundqvist could be playing golf in a couple weeks.

Kari Lehtonen, Atlanta Thrashers - Lehtonen is the probable starter for Thursday's game against the Rangers. Lehtonen will get the starting assignment for the Thrashers' first every playoff season but beware as the possibility of a first round upset and/or an appearance by Johan Hedberg is present. If Lehtonen is available as a cheap pick in your fantasy pool, go ahead and grab him but don't bother reaching too high.

Johan Holmqvist, Tampa Bay Lightning - Holmqvist is the probable starter for Thursday's game against the Devils. Despite being appointed the #1 goalie by coach John Tortorella, Holmqvist and the entire Lightning goaltending situation is one you'll want to avoid in the first round. Not only does Tortorella have a quick hook, but there's not too many people who think the Lightning will get by the Devils anyway.

Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils - Brodeur is the probable starter for Thursday's game against the Lightning. Always one of the safest picks in any regular season or fantasy draft, Brodeur is coming into the post-season in peak form and is projected to carry his team to at least the Conference finals. There's also nothing to worry about when it comes to poor performance as the Devils will stick with him even if he plays poorly and they're down 3-0.

Wade Dubielewicz, New York Islanders - Dubielewicz is the probable starter for Thursday's game against the Sabres. Rick DiPietro is still not ready to return from a concussion, so Dubielewicz should get starting duties in what many expect will be a quick series. You'll want to avoid him in all fantasy pools as the Sabres have a tendency to light up the scoreboard and Dubielewicz doesn't have the experience or past performance to be given a long hook.

Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres - Miller is the probable starter for Thursday's game against the Islanders. Along with Martin Brodeur, if there's one goalie you should target in playoff pools for the Eastern Conference, Miller is your man. Not only is he the undisputed #1 for his team, but the Sabres owned the best record in the league and are picked by many to win the Stanley Cup. It also works in his favor that Ty Conklin is his backup and while Conklin is not a bad goalie, he's not going to play in this series unless Miller goes down.

Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose Sharks - Nabokov is the probable starter for Wednesday's game against the Predators. He really surprised many by overtaking Vesa Toskala as the team's starter and is locked into the role for round one. However, the distance between the two isn't all that great and coach Ron Wilson will not hesitate to switch goalies should Nabokov falter. For fantasy purposes, you'd be better served to spend your dollars or your pick on a more safer selection.

Tomas Vokoun, Nashville Predators - Vokoun is the probable starter for Wednesday's game against the Sharks. Coach Barry Trotz tried to play it coy when asked about his starting netminder for the playoffs, but it was never really in doubt that Vokoun was his man. While both Vokoun and Chris Mason shared almost identical stats, Trotz isn't about to open himself to criticism by sitting the more experienced Vokoun - especially when the veteran goalie missed last season's post-season and the Preds were consequently eliminated by these very same Sharks. Vokoun is thus a safe choice, but only to the point of starting his team's games as this is another series which could go either way.

Marty Turco, Dallas Stars - Turco is the probable starter for Wednesday's game against the Canucks. We've all heard Turco's story before - a great regular season goalie but fails to deliver when the playoffs rolls around. He'll be looking to silence the critics but faces a stern test against the Canucks and with surprising rookie Mike Smith waiting in the wings. Because of his name value, the price to acquire him is probably very high so we think it would be wiser for poolies to shift focus on a more reliable option.

Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks - Luongo is the probable starter for Wednesday's game against the Stars. By every account, Luongo's first season with the Canucks was a huge success and he'll be looking to carry that over in the playoffs. If you're looking for a goalie strictly for the first round, there are few better choices as this series should go at least six games and Luongo is all but guaranteed of starting every single one.

Niklas Backstrom, Minnesota Wild - Backstrom is the probable starter for Wednesday's game against the Ducks. When Manny Fernandez went down with injury, Backstrom came out of nowhere to lead the league in both goals-against-average and save percentage. Despite that though, we'd be hesitant to use him as our fantasy playoff goalie given the stern test the Ducks are likely to provide and because coach Jacques Lemaire is all business and wouldn't think twice in replacing him with either Fernandez or rookie Josh Harding.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Anaheim Ducks - Giguere is the probable starter for Wednesday's game against the Wild. Giguere is an intriguing selection in fantasy leagues as he has the experience and the post-season performance to back him up. However, he hasn't played much the last week and his position isn't secure with the almost equally as good Ilya Bryzgalov lurking behind. Add that to the fact that Giguere is a moderate injury risk and he may be someone to avoid in fantasy leagues.

Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary Flames - Kiprusoff is the probable starter for Thursday's game against the Red Wings. Kiprusoff has a been a top three NHL goalie each of the last three seasons and he hasn't let his reptuation suffer once the playoffs begin. Unfortunately, the Flames barely squeaked into the playoffs in the first place and now face a difficult task trying to contain the high flying Red Wings. While Kipper can definitely keep his team in the series single handedly, there's also the possibility that things can go south in a hurry. If by chance the Flames can get by the Wings, then he'll rise rapidly in our rankings.

Dominik Hasek, Detroit Red Wings - Hasek is the probable starter for Thursday's game against the Flames. Hasek had another excellent season by most standards but comes in a little banged up as he's battling a thigh injury. But he's expected to be healthy for the series opener and while many will be scared off by his age and the risk of injury, he'll likely come under-valued in playoff pools. As long as he's healthy, feel free to make him your team's #1 goalie but make contingency plans just in case he gets hurt or if the Wings get knocked out as they seemingly are always in danger of.

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