By now you know the news: Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (high ankle sprain) is out indefinitely. He got hurt Saturday night at home vs. the Rangers (see the superb analysis in Yahoo!’s Puck Daddy blog).
So who starts tonight vs. Anaheim? None other than Patrick Lalime (2-7-1, .895, 3.17), who has played just 13 games this season.
Given Lalime’s stats, is there any reason a fantasy owner should consider him?
Yes, for three reasons:
1. Any starting goalie on a solid offensive team has fantasy value. Granted: if Lalime shits the bed, he won’t be a starting goalie for long. But as of this moment, he is the starter for the Sabres, who have scored at least three goals in their last three games.
In the six games they’ve played since losing super-stud left wing Thomas Vanek (jaw), the Sabres have totaled 1, 6, 0, 4, 3, and 4 goals. That’s an average of 3.00 per game. For the season, the Sabres rank 14th in goals per game (2.87).
The point is, while the Sabres are hardly Detroit (3.70) or San Jose (3.40), Lalime will have decent support. Even if he continues to allow 3.17 goals per game, he might get some wins.
2. The price is right. If you had to trade for Lalime, this would be a different story. But as of this moment, almost any fantasy owner can acquire Lalime for nothing via free agency, even though Miller has been hurt for three days now. In Yahoo! leagues, Lalime is only 11 percent owned. In ESPN leagues, Lalime is only four percent owned. Obviously, the masses have no faith.
3. Time was, Lalime was a terrific goalie. It was a while ago when Lalime starred for the Ottawa Senators, but the numbers are worth sharing:
2002-3: (39-20-7, 2.16, .911)
2003-4: (25-23-7, 2.29, .905)
Lalime is only 34 years old. Can he post numbers like these again? Probably not, but it costs you nothing to speculate.