The NHL began its final two week push to the playoffs on Monday. More than half of the 16 postseason spots are still available, so there is an awful lot still at stake. In these final two weeks, there is plenty still on the line for fantasy owners too. If the standings are close, every little goaltender adjustment can really make a difference.
Here is a list of goaltender matchups to seek out or avoid from Tuesday to Friday:
Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota
The Wild and fantasy owners rode Dubnyk’s success down the stretch last season. He isn’t quite on the run like he had last spring, but his March has been spectacular. Dubnyk is 9-2-1 with a 0.930 save percentage and 2.07 goals against average (GAA) this month.
Minnesota’s netminder has also won each of his last five games, posting a 0.958 save percentage and a 1.36 GAA. In his last start on Saturday against the Avalanche, who is the biggest foe standing in the way of the Wild and the final wild card spot in the Western Conference, Dubnyk made 29 saves, recording a shutout.
He has a tough matchup on paper against Chicago on Tuesday, but Dubnyk is 4-0-0 with a 0.935 save percentage and 1.96 GAA against the Blackhawks this season. On Thursday, Minnesota and Dubnyk will host Ottawa, who should be tired having played in Winnipeg the night prior. The Senators have lost three straight games heading into this week having averaged just 2.0 goals per game.
If Minnesota also plays Detroit on Friday, but assuming he plays Tuesday and Thursday, Dubnyk might get that night off.
Robert Luongo, Florida
The 36-year-old didn’t start the month very strongly, but he is ending it on a high note. Luongo is 3-2-0 with a 0.931 save percentage and 2.21 GAA in the last five games. In his last two games, he held division rivals Boston and Tampa Bay to three goals combined.
Luongo’s first matchup this week is against Toronto. Despite a sudden surge of scoring in the last few games, the Maple Leafs are still only averaging 2.4 goals per game since Mar. 3.
On St. Patrick’s Day, Luongo stopped 32 of33 shots in a 4-1 victory versus Toronto.
Next, Florida will face New Jersey on Thursday. Even though they scored seven goals in a game against Minnesota, the Devils have averaged just 2.45 goals per game since Mar. 4.
Owners should make sure both Dubnyk and Luongo are in the lineup this week.
Pekka Rinne, Nashville
It’s always tough to decide whether to roll with a hot goaltender even in tougher matchups. If it’s possible to avoid Rinne, that might be the wise decision because Nashville has road games in Dallas and Pittsburgh on the schedule this week.
The Stars have led the league in scoring pretty much the entire season, and even without center Tyler Seguin, Dallas has 14 goals in the last four games.
Rinne is on a five-game winning streak, posting a 0.929 save percentage and a 1.78 GAA during that time, but in two games against the Stars this season, he is just 1-1-0 with a 0.886 save percentage and 4.00 GAA.
Then on Thursday, Rinne faces the red hot Penguins, who come into this week having won eight of their last nine games.
Thomas Greiss, New York Islanders
The 30-year-old career backup was having a fantastic year for New York really until No. 1 netminder Jaroslav Halak went down with an injury on Mar. 8. Since then, Greiss is 1-5-1 with a 0.902 save percentage and 3.17 GAA.
It isn’t all his fault; the Islanders really haven’t played well defensively to help Greiss, and up until last Friday, nearly one-third of the goals he had given up in the last six games had come while shorthanded.
But then against Tampa Bay on Friday, Greiss allowed six even-strength goals on 41 shots.
New York started backup Jean-Francois Berube on Saturday in Carolina and allowed three goals. The Islanders play the Hurricanes again on Tuesday, so it will be interesting to see if coach Jack Capuano returns to Greiss or not. The Islanders then host the Blue Jackets on Thursday.
Regardless of who starts in net for New York, it might be best to avoid the Islanders goaltenders. New York has allowed 2.93 goals per game this month, which is tied for seventh-most in the NHL. Since Halak’s injury, the Islanders have yielded 33 goals in 11 games.