Fantasy Hockey: Don't give up on Luongo

Have you heard? Roberto Luongo is not off to a good start. With some Canucks fans calling for his head (or at least his starting job) we're using this week's Fantasy Hockey Faceoff to examine Luongo from a poolie's perspective and try to figure out whether he'll turn things around.
How soon they forget? Roberto Luongo's efforts were the driving force behind his and backup Cory Schneider's winning the Jennings Trophy last season. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Have you heard? Roberto Luongo is not off to a good start.

With some Canucks fans calling for his head (or at least his starting job) we're using this week's Fantasy Hockey Faceoff to examine Luongo from a poolie's perspective and try to figure out whether he'll turn things around.

Looking for a league to join? There's still time to get in on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada Fantasy Pool. It's free to play and the top prize is a brand-new Kia Optima Hybrid.

Plus, we give advice on whether to add, drop, sit or start other players around the NHL.

Like what you're reading? Follow the Fantasy Hockey Faceoff guys, Jesse and Jordan, on Twitter.

On to this week's topics:

1. What's up with Roberto Luongo?

Jesse: This question sounded familiar, so I checked our archives and, sure enough, on Nov. 5 of last year I wrote "I'm a little worried about the Canucks' ex-captain," because of his "uninspiring" 4-3-2 record, his poor GAA and save percentage, and his potential for losing playing time to emerging backup Cory Schneider. Well, here we go again.  After getting yanked from the net Tuesday night in Edmonton, Luongo is off to another slow start with a record of 2-3-1. Not horrible, but he ranks 39th out of 42 netminders in save percentage, 37th in goals-against average, and some fans want him replaced by Schneider. Still, recent history suggests he'll rebound in a big way. After putting last year's slow start behind him, Luongo ended the season tied for the league lead in wins (38) while finishing second in GAA (2.11) and fourth in save percentage (.928). In 2009-10, he dropped his first three starts, allowing an average of 3.6 goals, but still finished fifth in wins (40). So if you own Luongo, stick with him in your starting lineup with the expectation that the best part of his season lies ahead. If you don't have him, this is a good time to pry him from a panicky owner.

Jordan: Last week on CBCSports.ca’s Fan’s Corner (Wednesdays at 3 p.m. ET), Hockey Night in Canada’s Craig Simpson said that last year’s playoffs were the beginning of the end of Luongo in Vancouver. Whether you believe that or not, the worst thing you can do is panic and trade away one of the league’s best goalies since the lockout. Even though the Canucks netminder is off to a poor start and Schneider continues to shine, the team in front of him has to take some blame. In Luongo’s last two starts (both losses) the Canucks blocked just 19 shots total, while the Oilers and Rangers blocked 54 shots combined. Sometimes it’s the little things in hockey that can make a big difference. And besides, if Scott Gomez can continue to get playing time in Montreal with his hefty contract and better players behind him, then so can Luongo.

2. Add this guy!

Jordan: In the desert, Ray Whitney (21 per cent owned in Yahoo! leagues) has had a good start to the season. Despite many doubters, all Whitney’s ever done is score. Now nearing 40, he's notched at least 17 goals and 55 points in each of the last six seasons and chipped in with 23 power-play assists last year. He has seven points in eight games this season, and should continue to put up the points. After all, somebody besides Shane Doan has to score for the Coyotes, right?

In Winnipeg, Alex Burmistrov (nine per cent owned) hasn’t looked like the guy who played in Atlanta last season. The 2010 eighth overall pick had just six goals and 20 points in 74 games last year, but already has two goals and seven points through eight games. The Jets centre is at the very least worth keeping an eye on.

Jesse: Mathieu Perreault, owned in only two per cent of Yahoo! leagues, is an intriguing option as an injury fill-in or addition to your bench. In five games this season, the smallish centre has five points, including three goals, and a plus-six rating. Perreault isn't a no-brainer add because he's buried on the Capitals' formidable depth chart (he's been scratched for two of Washington's seven games and received limited ice time in the others) but there's plenty to like. The third-year NHLer, who split the last two seasons in the minors, averaged better than 115 points in his final two QMJHL seasons, and his plus-minus should continue to help you on a Washington team that tops the NHL with a plus-16 goal differential. If one of the Caps' forwards goes down, Perreault could pay off.

3. Start this guy!

Jesse: Mathieu Garon is still listed as the No. 2 goalie on the Lightning's depth chart, behind Dwayne Roloson, but for how much longer? While the 42-year-old Roloson has limped to a 1-2-1 start with a league-worst 5.09 GAA and .858 save percentage (fourth-worst), Garon is sparkling at 3-1-1/1.78/.942. Tampa coach Guy Boucher has given Garon the start in each of the team's last three games, and Garon has won all three. Like Boucher, you should ride the hot hand if you own Garon.

Jordan: Almost everything you just said about the Bolts’ goalie tandem could be said about the duo in St. Louis. The No. 1 guy out of training camp was Jaroslav Halak, but the former Hab has struggled. Halak is just 1-4 with a 3.47 GAA and an .835 save percentage. Brian Elliott, who wasn’t a lock to even make the team out of camp, has been excellent when called upon. After shutting out Vancouver on Wednesday night, the former Senators stopper sports a 4-0-0 record with a 1.59 GAA and a .950 save percentage. There’s no question Halak will be given every opportunity to regain the starting job, but for now Elliott could be a solid fantasy backup and he’s owned in just 19 per cent of leagues.