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By Jason Chen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
Frederik Andersen, Hurricanes (5-0-0, .946 Sv%, 1.60 GAA)
The best goalie in the league deserves a mention because no one expected it to be Andersen.
A 4-1 win against his former team ensured the Canes remained unbeaten as they head into their next game against the visiting Bruins, who have eliminated Carolina from the playoffs two of the last three seasons. After that, it's the Blackhawks, Coyotes, and then Blackhawks again, so Andersen may retain his spot at the top a little longer and give the Canes a chance to win 10 straight — and tie the record for the longest unbeaten streak to start the season. Andersen has been so good, supposed "1B" Antti Raanta likely won't see his first action until their back-to-back on Thursday and Friday.
Linus Ullmark, Bruins (2-0-0, .935 Sv%, 2.00 GAA)
Ullmark is back in the starter's crease with consecutive wins, capitalizing on the opportunity left open by Jeremy Swayman after he allowed five goals on 24 shots against the Flyers in his second start, proving once again that the preseason means nothing. But just as Swayman's hold on the starting job lasted one game, Ullmark could lose it just as quickly; the Bruins face the Hurricanes and the Panthers twice in their next three games — far tougher opponents than their previous four. Swayman (60 percent rostered) will get another chance, so don't give up on him just yet, and this goaltending battle with Ullmark (80 percent rostered) might last all season.
Elvis Merzlikins, Blue Jackets (4-0-0, .952 Sv%, 1.47 GAA)
Just in case you were wondering, Merzlikins was very serious about his bid for the Vezina in honor of his late friend, Matiss Kivlenieks. He's now firmly in the No. 1 role, and with Joonas Korpisalo losing both his games by a combined 9-2 score, is going to get the lion's share of the work. The Jackets continue to get outshot — what else is new — but they're also really good at grinding out wins from these types of games. The Jackets allow 34 shots per game, fifth-most in the league, and generate 26.7 of their own, which ranks second fewest. Merzlikins is a good source of saves yet remains rostered in just 73 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Mikko Koskinen, Oilers (3-0-0, .943 Sv%, 2.03 GAA)
You look at Koskinen's numbers last season — .899 Sv%, 3.17 GAA — and then remember why you're not exactly convinced all of this is real. However, as long as Mike Smith is sidelined, Koskinen (53 percent rostered) is a desirable fantasy asset playing on a team that averages 4.6 goals per game, second-most in the league thanks to Connor McDavid.
It will not always be pretty, but Koskinen's early play is a good sign he has improved a lot. If Koskinen continues to beat the teams he should beat and keeps them in games against tougher opponents, he might receive more starts than anticipated even when Smith comes back, whose return date is still unknown. It's an easy upcoming schedule; four of their next five games are at home and their road trip is to Vancouver where they were victorious in four of their last five meetings in the North Division.
Jacob Markstrom, Flames (2-1-1, .934 Sv%, 1.99 GAA)
The Flames have won four consecutive games after starting 0-1-1, and since then have not allowed more than three goals per game. Their 5v5 possession numbers according to naturalstattrick.com — fifth in Corsi% and 11th in Fenwick% — and improved defense are all trademarks of a Darryl Sutter-coached team. They look like they're the third-best team in a weak division, and their upcoming schedule features five consecutive home games following their current road trip, which finishes Thursday in Pittsburgh.
Markstrom, just two seasons removed from finishing fourth in Vezina voting, is curiously rostered in only 79 percent of Yahoo leagues when he could end up being a top-10 fantasy goalie again. Backup Daniel Vladar is 2-0-0 despite his .891 Sv% and may not see much playing time if he doesn't improve. Sutter was known for starting Miikka Kiprusoff for 70-plus games a season, so Markstrom might also be in for a huge workload.
Semyon Varlamov, Islanders (19-11-4, .929 Sv%, 2.04 GAA last season)
The Isles were really hoping that they wouldn't have to play Cory Schneider before Varlamov returns, especially with the way they let Ilya Sorokin start all six of their road games, including a back-to-back. Varlamov was removed from injured reserve Tuesday and Schneider has since been waived, which means we could potentially see Varlamov at their next game Saturday. The Isles had a rough start but have since settled down, fresh off two back-to-back shutout wins against Arizona and Vegas.
Varlamov and Sorokin worked a rotation last season and it looks like it will be status quo this season. Sorokin allowed 10 goals in his first two games and sent the Isles into a mild panic, but has since settled down with back-to-back shutout wins against Arizona and Vegas and likely will force another timeshare. Both goalies remain worth rostering and the Isles will have a favorable schedule for the rest of the season once they finish their grueling 14-game road trip.
Honorable Mention: Jordan Binnington, Blues; Vitek Vanecek, Capitals; Cam Talbot, Wild; Craig Anderson and Dustin Tokarski, Sabres; Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight, Panthers; Tristan Jarry, Penguins; Braden Holtby, Stars; Thatcher Demko, Canucks
Darcy Kuemper, Avalanche (2-3-0, .900 Sv%, 3.22 GAA)
The Avs average just 2.5 goals per game, 24th in the league, which offers Kuemper some reprieve. But that also means Kuemper seems to be wholly reliant on an elite offense to bail him out, having allowed at least three goals in three of his five starts. Their next four games are also against the Blues, Wild, and Jackets — teams that don't give up a lot of good scoring chances. Kuemper's hold on the No. 1 job is pretty secure, but you wonder if the Avs aren't eager to give Pavel Francouz a try when he returns, or give third-string Jonas Johansson a few more early season looks. It's a wait-and-see approach, but hopefully, Kuemper's fantasy value didn't peak before the season.
Adin Hill, Sharks (1-1-0, .851 Sv%, 4.90 GAA in last two starts)
The magic in the water is starting to wear off. After an impressive start, Hill has been drowning in his two recent games, allowing seven goals before ceding the net to James Reimer, who continues to be solid. The Sharks now have five consecutive home games against three teams that have trouble scoring — the Habs, Sabres, and Devils — which bodes well for them, but this also might be a chance for Reimer to edge Hill for the starting job. Fantasy managers were right to doubt Hill, who remains on the waiver wire in roughly half of Yahoo leagues, but there may be some hidden value with Reimer (21 percent rostered) on a team that is still a lot better than everyone expected despite the recent losses.
Cal Petersen, Kings (1-2-0, .885 Sv%, 3.71 GAA)
Losing Drew Doughty is going to really hurt their defense, and the Kings haven't gotten much offense from anyone not named Anze Kopitar. Petersen kept the Kings competitive for long stretches last season and came into the season with a pretty firm grip on the No. 1 job, but it has since slipped and Jonathan Quick has worked his way back into a bigger role. Quick is rostered in less than 10 percent of Yahoo leagues, and with three starts apiece it looks like the Kings will operate on some sort of timeshare. They went 0-3-1 on their road trip but face a soft schedule ahead of playing host to the Habs, Sabres, and Devils. Save Petersen for the bench until his play improves, and keep an eye on Quick for a potential spot start depending on the opponent.
Matt Murray, Senators (0-1-0, .936 Sv%, 1.60 GAA)
It's not that Murray's numbers are bad, it's that he's injured yet again. He played just 27 games last season due to various injuries as well, and it's a shame because he looked good both during his season debut and the following game. The Sens are a talented young team that could surprise and shouldn't have trouble providing goal support, so if fantasy managers have patience and a free IR spot, Murray is definitely worth a stash. In the interim, it looks like Filip Gustavsson and Anton Forsberg will operate a timeshare since neither has stood out so far.
Dishonorable Mention: Ilya Samsonov, Capitals; Marc-Andre Fleury and Kevin Lankinen, Blackhawks; Philipp Grubauer, Kraken; Alex Nedeljkovic, Red Wings; Carter Hutton and Karel Vejmelka, Coyotes