Cristobal Huet, pictured, and Nikolai Khabibulin are both playing well in Chicago.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
It seems like this year, more so than in past years, NHL clubs have been struggling to find a No.1 goalie in the opening months of the season. Several clubs have already made goaltending switches, or have at least been playing two goalies on an evenly split basis. Edmonton has even gone to a three-goalie rotation to try and find someone to stop enough pucks to keep them in games.
All this does is wreak havoc on your fantasy squad. Night after night you're curious if the half of the goalie rotation you have is going to be the one "between the pipes." If your luck is anything like mine, most nights you lose and it's the half you don't own in net. And on the rare occasions your guy is in there, he lets up five goals on 18 shots and you find yourself wondering if he'll ever see the ice again.
A look around the league shows that this isn't a problem just for a few teams, but for more than a third of them.
In Chicago, it is a problem the Blackhawks brought on themselves when they signed Cristobal Huet this offseason, and their problem is a little different from most, but it is still a problem. With Huet and Nikolai Khabibulin both playing well no No.1 guy can be named, leaving fantasy owners in the dark.
Huet's former team, the Washington Capitals, are in the completely opposite situation. After making the decision this summer to not bring Huet back, the Caps went out and signed veteran backstop Jose Theodore who has been less than stellar in 10 starts this season.
Having posted a "save percentage" below 90% and a "goals against average" of above three, Theodore has opened the door for backup Brent Johnson, who has taken the opportunity and run with it posting very solid numbers (5-1-2, 2.15 GAA & .931 SV%). The problem with Johnson is that he has never been the solid No.1 type everyone thought he'd be after extremely solid seasons in St. Louis from 2001-2003.
Whichever goalie starts for the Caps, they just need to keep their team in hockey games and wins will be aplenty given their very skilled offense and weak divisional opponents. Still, Washington may find themselves in the same position they did at last year's trade deadline if neither of their current goalies can perform.
The scenario in Washington is similar to the one in Toronto where Vesa Toskala is in danger of losing his job, in Ottawa where it appears Martin Gerber has found his way behind Alex Auld on the depth chart and believe it or not even in Calgary where Miikka Kiprusoff has gotten off to one of the worst starts of his career.
There really is no easy fantasy fix to this issue. There is only so much of a supply of goaltending, which will always be outweighed by the demand. I like to compare it to the stock market when I am trying to fix my goaltending issues. There are no "blue chip" stocks left to buy, at least not at a bargain. All that is left are "penny stocks" that you have to tie your portfolio to and hope they take off.
Same goes for goaltending. There is no All-Star fix on the waiver wire. Maybe on the trading block, but you'll pay a hefty price. All that's on the waiver wire are backups and guys who hardly play. Your best move is too try and grab a backup goalie whose starter is on shaky ground and hope the backup starts to steal some starts from him and plays well. Maybe he steals the job outright, or maybe he just gives you some solid minutes here or there. Right now, it seems, that's not only your best bet, it's your only bet.