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What to do with Carey Price and updated fantasy hockey rankings

From ESPN - November 13, 2017

At this time last year, Carey Price had faced 258 shots at even strength over the course of 10 games, blocking 251 of them for a .973 save percentage. All was well in the land of the Montreal Canadiens.

As of Monday, Price has faced 253 shots at even strength over the course of 11 games this season. The difference, as we all know, is that he's only blocked 222 of them for a save percentage of .877.

What the heck is going on with this consensus first-round fantasy goaltender?

In very similar sample sizes from last season to this season, Price only allowed seven goals in 2016 but has allowed 31 so far this season. Rostering him so far this season is even worse than if you had simply said "pass" on your first-round pick in drafts.

In the meantime, Charlie Lindgren, a 23-year-old with three previous games of NHL experience, has stepped in for the past four games as Price hit the injured reserve with a non-specific lower-body injury. Lindgren has proceeded to stop 114 of 117 pucks thrown his way at even strength and boasts an overall save percentage of .964. More importantly for the Habs and their fans, he's managed three wins in those four games -- equal to Price in his 11 starts.

Yes, what we have here is a perfect storm to trade for Price.

As fantasy players, we have to rely on what we know. So what do we know about Carey Price? Even including this season's horrible statistics, he still has the best save percentage in the NHL over the past four regular seasons combined (minimum 50 starts); he had that much of a head start. Even though he missed the majority of the 2015-16 season with injury, he's still in the top 10 for wins during the past four seasons; he's just been that good. Really, combining the last four seasons, only Braden Holtby and Devan Dubnyk can hold a candle to Price's numbers when you combine the big-three fantasy categories: wins, save percentage and goals-against average.

While a decline in goaltender statistics is expected as players age into their 30s, it is very rarely precipitous. The wheels do not usually just fall off. Now 30 years old, we can comfortably know that Price's best years are behind him. There have only been five seasons in NHL history with a goaltender older than 30 to manage a .930 save percentage over 50 or more games (Dominik Hasek three times and Tim Thomas twice). But this decline for Price is way too much, way too fast, to be anything but a hiccup or injury related. Both of those factors should be taken off the table by his injured reserve stint.

Fantasy players should have some faith in Price's talent and invest. Lindgren is not going to cause a goaltending controversy when Price returns from his injury.

First off, Lindgren's statistics are unsustainable. His .974 even-strength save percentage is going to get destroyed if he continues to start games. Not to mention, Lindgren has a .947 save percentage on the penalty kill, which is way above where it should be (.870 to .890 is usually the range for most goalies). With some regression coming in both those numbers, he would be exposed sooner than later.

If anything, Lindgren has given us more reason to invest in Price. If the Canadiens can play well enough in front of this 23-year-old rookie to allow him solid goaltending statistics, then surely they can do it in front of Price, too.

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