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Fantasy hockey: Late-season ultimate goalie guide

We crown Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings as one of the top pickups this week. Rob Curtis/Icon Sportswire

We're at that pivotal point in the season where having the right figure in net can either make or break a manager's head-to-head fantasy campaign, regardless of what has transpired in the months leading up. In that spirit, here's a view of several currently overachieving - and largely available - assets that could help your roster now, other more-popular goalies who may fall short down the stretch, and a small handful of potentially valuable Daily Fantasy/streaming commodities.


Worth a look?

Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks (55.2%): What can I say? One the league's most volatile netminding assets has been a fantasy dream for three weeks now. Since re-seizing the reins from Aaron Dell, Jones is 4-2-0, including two shutouts, while boasting a .947 SV%. Out of the playoff hunt (so no pressure!), the Sharks have 16 games remaining, counting a pair of back-to-back sets. Jones could play plenty. Managers with a need in goal might hitch their fantasy cart to this often fickle fella, who appears confident and determined to end 2019-20 on a high.

Jacob Markstrom, Vancouver Canucks (35.6%): Thatcher Demko wasn't bad at all Wednesday and his club still fell to the Coyotes, marking the club's fourth loss in as many games. On the upside, Vancouver remains in the playoff mix - crouched in a Wild Card spot by a hair - while Markstrom is due to be re-evaluated in a week after enduring a minor procedure (lower-body) in late February. Head-to-head managers with suspect goaltending might choose to look ahead in this regard. Once ready to go, the Canucks' No. 1 is going to play a lot. Perhaps as many as 10/11 of the team's final 16. Back to his dominant self in the few games before falling hurt, Markstrom's recovery merits monitoring at minimum.

Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers (25.5%): Expected back sooner than initially expected after suffering a rib fracture in a vehicle collision, the rookie netminder could conceivably return to action by next week. At which stage he'll push to challenge Alexandar Georgiev - who faces the Capitals Thursday - for starts while a relegated Henrik Lundqvist looks on. The Rangers are only four points out of a playoff spot, they aren't tossing in the towel yet. And Shesterkin was flat-out superb, snowballing a 9-1-0 record and .940 SV% before the accident. If interested, don't hesitate long in grabbing New York's (maybe) future dynamo.

Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks (23.1%): Anyone not cheering on Crawford's current run of success might qualify as a monster considering the health issues endured by the 35-year-old netminder. But never mind those sourpusses, the Blackhawks' current No. 1 - undisputed following Robin Lehner's departure for Vegas - is pacing an impressive stride with only one dud to show for seven recent starts. He's been excellent otherwise. Meanwhile, Chicago has one of the more favorable schedules to ride out the regular season, facing more non-playoff teams than otherwise and hosting 10 of their last 16 games at home. New backup Malcom Subban will play some; Crawford will play more.

See also: Alex Stalock, Minnesota Wild

Worth a worry?

Ben Bishop, Dallas Stars (98.4%): First of all, he's hurt - listed day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Then there's interim coach Rick Bowness waxing on about Anton Khudobin deserving more action in light of the backup's recent strong play. Throw in a sparse two starts in the span of three weeks - both of them losses, one of them incomplete and ugly - and there's cause for Bishop's managers to feel concern. Handcuffing Khudobin is one tactic worth exploring, particularly since the at-present playoff-bound Stars will want to keep their No. 1 fresh, even once recovered (he's rumored to start Thursday versus the Predators). At best, an even-stevens split down the stretch feels in the cards.

Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators (83.4%): Juuse Saros has been the busier and the better of Nashville's two netminders in recent play. The Predators are battling for a playoff spot - they'll start whoever gives them the greater shot at winning on that particular day. Right now, that's Saros (rostered in 24.7% of ESPN.com leagues).

David Rittich, Calgary Flames (63.7%): Similarly, Cam Talbot has been the better of Calgary's duo of late, following up Sunday's shutout in Florida with an impressive performance - settling in comfortably after allowing two first-period tallies - in Wednesday's OT win over the visiting Blue Jackets. Rittich, meanwhile, is coming off consecutive road losses, surrendering four goals in each. Hanging on to third place in the Pacific, the Flames have only 14 games remaining including just one back-to-back set. If the club's No. 2 continues to outperform its starter, Rittich may see limited action before the regular season wraps up. The 27-year-old has already broken his own NHL record of games-played with 47. Talbot remains available in more than 91% of ESPN.com leagues.

Joonas Korpisalo, Columbus Blue Jackets (35.8%): Only because Elvis Merzlikins (concussion) is loosely due back over the weekend and he was dominant before the entire team hit the skids in early February. If coach John Tortorella gets his way, both Korpisalo and Merzlikins will push each other in splitting the load as an effective tandem on route to and through the postseason. Not the ideal scenario for many fantasy managers. Concerning, tandem-wise, see also: Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta of the Arizona Coyotes.

See also: Thomas Greiss, New York Islanders; Tristan Jarry, Pittsburgh Penguins

DFS Darlings

Robin Lehner, Vegas Golden Knights (43.5%): If Lehner resents playing second-fiddle to Marc-Andre Fleury in his new digs he isn't letting on in a negative sense. After allowing two goals in a convincing win over the Sabres, the former Chicago netminder sealed the door shut in Tuesday's shutout victory versus the Devils. Just more impressive stuff from the guy who's made a habit of impressing us for nearly two full seasons now. And if any physical issue should befall Fleury before now and early April, hustle to add Lehner ASAP. In all fantasy leagues.

Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings (11.9%): The former Conn Smythe Trophy winner has won three of his past four and looked good doing it. Of 16 remaining, the Kings host a whopping 11 games at home - where the NHL's second-worst team sports a winning record. If Quick is too conventional for your own particular DFS taste, consider giving Los Angeles backup Cal Petersen a whirl. When the match-up makes sense, naturally. The AHL regular has allowed just one goal in each his past two starts, both wins.

Jack Campbell, Toronto Maple Leafs (8.2%): Shouldering a good load (too much) of the blame for Tuesday's loss to the Sharks, Campbell kept his underperforming team in it well into the third. Altogether, the former King - who seems genuinely thrilled to be a member of the Leafs - has been solid in relief of Frederik Andersen since landing in Toronto a month ago. He'll get another shot at a 'W' in Anaheim on Friday. I like his chances.

See also: MacKenzie Blackwood and Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils