Former NHL goaltender Mike McKenna gives his Daily face-to-face Start of the goalkeeper game of the day for Saturday. January 7, 2023:
Why I love this game:
Fleury and Luukkonen have been rock solid over the past month of NHL action.
To monitor :
Tage Thompson isn’t the only reason the Sabers tend to be in contention for a Stanley Cup Playoff berth: Luukkonen is 6-1-0 in his last seven starts. While his .913 save percentage over that stretch isn’t stellar, it’s a major improvement over his past NHL experience. Which shouldn’t be surprising. Luukkonen has been slow to develop and injuries have delayed his progress. But his skills have always been top notch, and now it’s starting to show. I like Luukkonen’s lateral movement. And I think he’s at the point in his career where he reads the game at the NHL level.
Fleury’s year started slowly, but he’s come back strong lately. The Wild goaltender is 4-1-0 in his last five starts and hasn’t had a game where his save percentage has fallen below .900 since Dec. 12. Part of Fleury’s success can be attributed to the Wild playing better in front of him. But I also think he found a comfortable place mentally. With his goalkeeping partner Filip Gustavsson also playing very well, Fleury doesn’t have to do everything alone. And it shows. The future Hall of Famer appeared relaxed in the crease. And don’t underestimate the value of his puck handling. Fleury’s batting skills will be called upon to thwart Buffalo’s forecheck.
What fantasy owners should do:
Start both. Fleury was a disappointment for fantasy owners early in the season. But he’s been strong lately. And Luukkonen has been a terrific free agent for many teams.
Conclusion for Marc-André Fleury:
Be prepared for the Buffalo Tage Thompson sniper. And be prepared for the quick transitions created by the Sabers defensive core.
Conclusion for Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen:
Minnesota will look different without Mats Zuccarello in the lineup. But that doesn’t mean Wild striker Kirill Kaprizov will be any less dangerous. Be prepared for snips and battles in and around the crease.