Backup Netminders Have Value Too

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Every fantasy owner would love to stockpile two or more goalies who will amass 70+ starts-a-year, but in this day and age that's not usually possible. Instead you're lucky to get one "workhorse" and a couple of shared situation goaltenders.

Adding backups to your roster does require more work, it's not for those who want a "set it and forget it" lineup. You must check each team just before game-time to see if your backup is going to get the start, but it can be worth the trouble.

Lets look at some of the best of the backups. In each case the backup is statistically better than the team's No.1 goaltender.

Martin Biron, New York Rangers, 9-2, 1.88, 0.927 (14% owned) - While starter Henrik Lundqvist is having a great season, when Biron gets between the pipes he's been just as good, if not better. Biron has won nine of 11 starts and his 1.88 GAA is slightly better than Lundqvist's 1.93 GAA.

Sergei Bobrovsky, Philadelphia, 10-4-1, 2.46, 0.919 (30%) - When Ilya Bryzgalov has struggled, "Bob" has been there to pick the Flyers up. While former Flyer Biron has gotten in just 11 games in New York, Bobrovsky has been in 18 games for Philadelphia. Bobrovsky's GAA is a half-a-goal lower than Bryzgalov and his save-percentage in 24 points higher. He's averaging 5+ games-per-month and is available in seven out of every 10 leagues.

Johan Hedberg, New Jersey, 12-7-1, 2.45, 0.909 (30%) - Martin Brodeur is a certain Hall-of-Fame goaltender, but in 2011-12, it's the backup Hedberg who has posted the better statistics. The bad news is that while Hedberg was averaging six games-per-month through December, he's only gotten three opportunities in January.

Tuukka Rask, Boston, 11-4-2, 1.69, 0.943 (64%) - Rask was one of the few backup goaltenders selected on Draft Day which is why his ownership level is so high and he hasn't disappointed those who took the gamble. With a great defense in front of them, both 2010-11 Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas (20-9-0, 2.12, 0.933) and Rask have posted excellent numbers. If he's still available in your league he should be picked up immediately.

Brian Elliott, St. Louis, 15-5-1, 1.68, 0.937 (79%) - Elliott had been so good early on that he grabbed the No.1 spot from Jaroslav Halak. Elliott's performance dropped a bit in December (4-4, 2.26 GAA, 0.920 SV%) and Halak has played more games in January, so this may not be the place to pick up wins.

Ray Emery, Chicago, 11-3-2, 2.57, 0.907 (20%) - Emery is with his fourth team in five seasons, but it hasn't effected his play. He's got an excellent won/loss record and has allowed more than three goals just three times in 18 games. At this point, there is no sign of what was thought to be a career- threatening off-season hip injury.

Cory Schneider, Vancouver, 10-5, 2.30, 0.927 (43%) - Schneider played a lot in the early going and was a solid 7-4 through October and November, but has seen less work as starter Roberto Luongo has gotten stronger in the new year. Schneider has won his last three starts, but given up an average of three goals-per-game.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Colorado, 12-7-1, 2.11, 0.922 (38%) - When Semyon Varlamov stumbled, Giguere was there to pick up the pieces and has done an excellent job in his 22 appearances. This is now a shared situation with both goaltenders getting equal time between the pipes. Unless Rask is still a free agent in your league, this is the best opportunity to earn quality starts from a backup netminder.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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