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The Week in Fantasy: Backup Goalie Roulette

There don’t look like there are too many backup goalies about to win you your league

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Anaheim Ducks Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The three stars of backup goalies who have come on to save fantasy seasons this year are Peter Budaj, Mike Condon and Chad Johnson, all to varying degrees. They all have something else in common: they’ll all be backups again once the fantasy playoffs start.

Craig Anderson is back in Ottawa, taking Condon’s full time job away. Johnson has fallen on his face in Calgary. And Peter Budaj is about to give his job back to Jonathan Quick, as the Kings put backup Jeff Zatkoff on waivers on Wednesday while Quick took on pucks in practice.

If you relied on one of two or (in my case at varying points this year) all three of them, you’re in dire straits going into the fantasy playoffs, if you’ve found a way to make it with this makeshift goalie group. So I’m about to propose a radical solution in the fantasy playoffs only: backup goalie roulette.

This only applies for goalies who aren’t starters and can’t be relied on past one start you see they’re getting via a tweet from the team beat writer and it goes like this.

Check beat writers of teams, team tweets and any other news Twitter searches can bring up and see if you can get an idea of if a backup is going to play the next day (generally fantasy sites don’t allow same day pickup and plays) and if you find one playing who’s a free agent, no matter who it is, playing against a Colorado, Carolina or (gulp) New Jersey, get him.

You generally only need three goalie appearances for a week and a smaller sample size with poor players could very well yield quality results. All it takes is one goalie playing one good game and you could steal a category with such a small sample.

Look at Carter Hutton right now in St. Louis. He doesn’t play much, but his last two starts have been shutouts. He’s unquestionably the backup, but if you can find out in advance by a day whether he’s playing, he could be a solid pickup for a game.

And then as soon as that goalie plays, dump him for someone else the day before they play.

It’s more time consuming and you can’t rely on these players at all, but when you’re in the playoffs and the players who got you there are going to be barely playing anymore due to superior/more well-established players returning, there’s not much choice here.

Scott Darling has a .928 save percentage. If you find out he’s playing, grab him for a night. If Jimmy Howard comes back any time soon, his .934 save percentage would look swell for a pickup for one game. Juuse Saros is not going to start any time soon in Nashville, but if he has a scheduled backup start, he’s been fantastic this year in limited sample size.

Hutton, Antti Raanta, Jacob Markstrom and Anders Nilsson have all put up decent numbers in smaller samples, but don’t look to be getting starters’ minutes for varying reasons ranging from being behind Henrik Lundqvist (Raanta) to management stupidity (Markstrom), but they’ll all generally have the same outcome down the stretch.

Look for back to backs for these teams or any news you can find, because these guys have all put up decent numbers when they play and can save your season when they do it. You just have to find out when they actually will play.