Commentary

The Vicky Files: Goaltender breakdown

Updated: January 27, 2008, 1:03 AM ET
By Victoria Matiash | Special to ESPN.com

Allow me the use of this space to offer one final take on Sidney Crosby's injury before leaving the poor boy to heal in peace. Sometimes, we don't truly appreciate the greatest performances in sport until well after the fact. Personal case in point: I had the extraordinary privilege of witnessing Oakland pitcher Dave Stewart's no-hitter, live in Toronto, on June 29, 1990. Unfortunately, being a young, bratty teen at the time, I didn't fully understand the weightiness of the affair. No-hitters are rare enough, but this was also the first by an African-American in my lifetime (Jim Bibby had had the last in 1973). It should have been an exceptional treat, but all I moodily cared about was that my team was getting destroyed. The experience was completely wasted on me. What an incredibly immature knucklehead I was, and it's a memory still fraught with regret.

It's in this spirit that I discourage anyone from taking any pleasure from Crosby's missing action in the next few weeks. Although Stewart's no-hitter was a one-day event, there are similarities to be drawn with what the young Penguin lends to the game of hockey. The injury doesn't affect only his fantasy owners and Pittsburgh fans but all lovers of the game. Barring unforeseeable circumstances, Crosby will go down in history as one of the best players ever. He's the sport's premier ambassador at present, and any time lost on the ice is a loss for all of us.

So mend quickly, Mr. Crosby; hockey needs you far more than you need it.

Dear Vicky,
Alexander Frolov was just dropped in my deep 14-team H2H league, and while his plus/minus is terrible, he still puts up good numbers at a nearly point-per-game pace. The two worst performers on my team are Mikko Koivu and Jamie Langenbrunner, and they are both far from bad (despite injuries this year). Would either of them be worth dropping to grab Frolov? Or should I stick with what I currently have? My team is evenly balanced with good stats across all categories. I'm currently just one win out of first place in my league, but would never turn down the possibility of more offense. I'd appreciate your opinion and thank you for your time.
Lawrence from Los Angeles

Frolov is absolutely worth acquiring in lieu of Langenbrunner. After sluggishly returning from injury in December, the winger has 17 points in his past 15 games. And his plus/minus isn't as unhealthy as it has been. He's a decent minus-1 for the month of January.

The only thing to keep an eye on is his groin. Well, not literally. But Frolov is struggling in his recovery, and according to his own words, it still doesn't feel right. He plans to play through the discomfort and have it fixed in the offseason. However, this is more of a heads-up than anything else. Unless there's re-injury, he should continue to produce.

Langenbrunner, on the other hand, will never do anything spectacular for you. Sure, he has five points in his past four games, but that trend won't last. Frolov has the potential to be a point-per-game guy, and Langenbrunner does not. The exchange is a gamble worth wagering.

I was wondering if it would be a good idea to pick up Jose Theodore off waivers. I would have to drop either Dominik Hasek or Martin Gerber. Also, should I pick up Nikolai Zherdev and drop Brad Boyes? Thank you for your time.
Marco from New Jersey

My goodness, yes, on that first one. Theodore has, without a doubt, won the starter's role from Peter Budaj in Colorado, and past two losses aside, he's playing marvelously. This shouldn't come as any colossal shock as Theodore has performed consistently well in the past. For crying out loud, he won the Hart Trophy in 2001-02 with Montreal. It's not as though the guy's incapable of rising to the occasion. And when he finds a groove, which could be the case at present, he's well above average.

Should Theodore tickle your fancy, let the Ottawa netminder loose (through trade). The Senators are allowing Gerber and Ray Emery the opportunity to fight it out for the starter's role. He who rises to the occasion, wins. This situation will resolve itself in the next short while, and the "loser" is going to see very little activity as the season concludes. My money is, and always has been, on Emery to emerge as the team's everyday man. Why? Because he's better.

As for your second issue, I'm a big fan of Zherdev's, but there's no arguing with Boyes' output this season, either. Their production is relatively on par, but Boyes carries the bigger advantage in terms of goals and plus/minus. I would stick with the status quo in this case.

I would like your thoughts on my three goalies: Henrik Lundqvist, Tomas Vokoun and Niklas Backstrom. They're killing me right now.
Joey from Toronto

Lundqvist and Vokoun are two solid, decent goaltenders who carry the attractive distinction of being their respective team's numero unos. Expect smooth and rough patches here and there (as Vokoun has hit recently), but they're also both talented enough to put up decent numbers over the long haul. There's no justified reason to dump them.

Backstrom, on the other hand, is worth fretting about. Despite their spot atop the Northwest division, the Wild have given no indication as to which goalie they intend to go with for the duration of the season. Josh Harding is still getting regular opportunities, and should he hit a hot streak, Backstrom could find himself spending loads of time on Minnesota's bench. However, there's no way you should drop him outright. Lob a trade offer off to Harding's owner (he or she definitely would be interested) for good value in return, goaltending or otherwise. Depending on the size and intensity of your league, you might also be able to grab a hotshot dark horse off waivers. Antero Niittymaki and (as mentioned above) Jose Theodore are worth consideration.

Victoria Matiash is a fantasy hockey analyst for ESPN.com. You can send her e-mail for potential use in "The Vicky Files" by clicking here.

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