The Vicky Files: Goalie troubles


Getting hitched is setting guys back a pretty penny these days. A new study from Microsoft found that a 50-year marriage will cost an average man upward of $560,000 over his lifetime. Five hundred and sixty thousand dollars. Yearly expenses include greeting cards for all occasions, flowers and gifts, dinners out and grooming products to maintain some semblance of attractiveness. Unmarried men don't have these expenditures. Now, before you commit yourself to the single life or call a divorce lawyer, ask: What's the alternative? Would you prefer to spend 50 years in a basement apartment with nothing but your Xbox and a couple of pets? As a quality of life issue, more than a half million might be a small price to pay for the love, companionship and occasional physical contact only a steady relationship can supply.

Appropriately enough, having a fine spouse in your life is comparable to having a quality goaltender on your fantasy roster. Without one, a depressing daily existence is inevitable. Netminders factor into far too many categories to be ignored. It doesn't matter what players you have skating up front, without that solid figure between the pipes, you'll spend plenty of time at the bottom of your league's table. Similar to the confirmed bachelor's routine of sitting at mom's table every Thursday for her weekly macaroni special. It's a life, but not an exciting one.

On that note, let's have a look at a handful of goalies who may, or may not, contribute to a season of fantasy bliss.

Hey Vicky, what should I do with Martin Brodeur? I got him as my No. 1 goalie in my fantasy draft and he stinks. Is this the result of the Devils' defense or is he finally getting too old and tired to put up the wins as he has in the past? Should I hang onto him or trade him while his name still carries some weight? It's hard to give up on him though, with a track record like his!!!

Shawn from Edmonton, Alberta

John Pereira and I tackled concerns about Martin Brodeur in this week's edition of "Are You For Real," but judging from e-mails, more reassurance is in order. Brodeur will be just fine. He's in a slump; even great players experience them. The loss of Brian Rafalski is significant, but New Jersey is a defensive-styled hockey team and the Devils are still riding middle-of-the-pack in shots allowed. Once Brodeur snaps out of this funk, the squad's numbers, and his own, will improve considerably. In fact, aside from letting in a couple of weak ones, Brodeur already appeared more comfortable against the Rangers on Thursday night, stopping 29 of 31 shots. He even looked like his old spectacular self at times.

Furthermore, aside from Zach Parise, the whole team is underachieving. Despite the Devils' denials to the contrary, starting the season with nine games on the road didn't help. They finally get to settle into their new arena Saturday night for the first of seven of 10 at home. Watch this team come to life at both ends of the ice in the next couple of weeks.

Hey Vicky, I'm in a 12-team league with Tomas Vokoun and Cam Ward as my goalies. I recently stashed Jimmy Howard away on my bench. Is this a good use of a bench spot? Can I rely on Ward to keep it up this season and Vokoun to turn it around?

Jack from Raleigh, N.C.

Congratulations on your foresight, Jack, well done. Did you know Dominik Hasek would get hurt this early in the season, or was it a case of just waiting for the inevitable? Regardless, the 43-year-old is out indefinitely with a wonky hip and James "Jimmy" Howard is up from the AHL, ready to make his mark. He has some NHL experience from 2005-06, so butterflies won't be an issue. Unfortunately for Howard (and you), Detroit's No. 2 Chris Osgood is putting in an impressive showing so far: 4-0, 1.50 GAA and a .929 SV% in five games. Fortunately for Howard (and you), Osgood has played only 61 games since 2003-04. He's not an everyday guy anymore, and young Jimmy will be called upon to fill the gaps.

Another concern is that Hasek is still traveling with the Wings, so he could return sooner rather than later. But don't worry much about that; once the hip feels better, something else will blow. The man's body is being held together by sheer will at this point.

As for Vokoun and Ward: You have two steady netminders who will start more than they'll sit, win more than they'll lose and post decent numbers throughout. With Howard as your wild card, you're in decent shape.

Both Jeff Carter and Mike Richards are off to good starts with Philly, although Richards is currently getting more ice time. How would you rank them for this season?

Grayden from Vancouver, British Columbia

Carter and Richards are exceeding expectations this year, but so are the Flyers as a unit. Things couldn't get much worse after last season's catastrophe, but at 6-3 with a perfect home record, even the biggest optimists are pleasantly surprised. Martin Biron and newly acquired Daniel Briere are contributing hugely to Philadelphia's early success, but this team is playing better in all respects. It actually looks as though the Flyers are having fun out there, as opposed to eight months ago.

One concern is the health of Simon Gagne. He's listed as day-to-day and will miss Saturday night's game in Boston. Gagne is a key element in Philly's offence; Carter and Richards are more productive with him in the lineup. But there isn't too much alarm about the ongoing "dizziness" right now, and Gagne hopes to be back in the lineup for Thursday's game in Montreal.

As it stands, Richards and Carter should be considered valuable No. 2 or 3 centers on any fantasy roster. Carter leads the team in goals (six) and Richards is second only to Briere in points (10). They're both seeing loads of ice time, at even strength and with the man advantage. Aside from the injury issue, a concern for both, there's no reason to expect fewer than 75 points from Richards and 70 from Carter by season's end.

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.