Monday, January 16, 2017

Week Fourteen Newsletter



Time just isn't the commodity that it once was at the office, so it could very well be that the Newsletter will be the only consistent post on the blog for the foreseeable future.  I would love to spend time with the blog and keeping on with keeping on, but things have changed, albeit for the better, at the office.  I might be able to chime in from time to time, but don't expect a lot of updates going forward.



There were no debates in the Player of the Week race in Week Fourteen, as Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals ran away with the nod, cruising to his second mention of the sort this season.  The Capitals' top centre led all players in the hockey pool with 10 points in the week.

Backstrom has been running hot of late, currently on a 6-game points streak, including the four games he played last week.  It was a goal and an assist against Montreal on Monday, a goal and 3 assists against Pittsburgh on Wednesday, another goal and an assist on Friday against Chicago and then a pair of assists against Philly on Sunday.

The 10 points in the week has lifted Backstrom up to 42 points in 43 games this season, which is now good enough for 18th overall in pool scoring.  That's a bargain pick this season, since he was taken early in the 2nd round, 29th overall.  It's not a huge bargain, but an upgrade in draft rounds, for sure.

And when a team has a player that high in the Player of the Week scoring, there's a fine chance that they are going to be the Mover & Shaker of the week as well and that is what Ryan cashed in on in Week Fourteen.  Ryan's team was definitely moving and shaking, setting a new season-high in weekly scoring and shifting his way up the standings.

Ryan's proxy team finished the week with 39 points in the week and that shifted his team up six spots in the standings, going from 13th to 7th place.  His team will open Week Fifteen only 8 points out of the last money spot, but would still have a bit of work, 20 points, to reach 2nd place.

The Washington duo of Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin helped to pave the way for his team, as Ovie finished with 7 points to make a pairing, which almost doubled our Basement Dweller's entire week.

Also having a good week for Ryan's team were David Pastrnak of the Bruins with 5 points, Dougie Hamilton of the Flames with 4 points and Max Pacioretty of the Canadiens with 3 points.

It was also a pretty good week for Ryan in the plus/minus category, as his team was a pool high +16 in total, moving up to 3rd place overall in the non-money related category, now sitting at a +50.

It was a rough week for Derek B., as his team wasn't able to crack the double-digit mark in Week Fourteen, picking up only 9 points in total.  The lack of points dropped his team down to 22nd overall in the standings, but it hasn't been a very positive year, to date, as his peak position in the standings has been 16th.

8 of his 9 points this week came from his forwards and the other was from Mark Giordano.  His goaltending was unable to capitalize on a couple starts, which didn't help much to correct the issue, rather it exacerbated the problem.

Unfortunately, Derek's season has really fallen apart in this second segment, as his team ranks 24th since the start of Week Nine, 57 points worse than the best team in the segment.  On the plus side, his team is still in the mix for the penalty minute pool, only 55 minutes back of top spot with another Waiver Draft to go.

It's the third straight week that Brian and Cam have been 1-2 in the standings and they are starting to run away at the top.  The difference between the two is only 8 points this week, but Cam down to Brenda & Seward, our new 3rd place team, is now 12 points.

Thankfully, Brenda & Seward lead a group that isn't separated by very much.  Those same 12 points going to the other way, takes us all the way down to 11th.  That's a lot of play left in the standings, keeping things very interesting.

We have a new leader!  Marcie's team was kicking ass and chewing bubble gum and somewhere around Wednesday, they ran out of gum.  Marcie's team was the goon team of the week, racking up 45 minutes in the week and bumping Kristy & Don from top spot.  Derek W. is now 43 minutes back of 1st, down in 3rd place, followed by Cam, who finds his team 48 minutes back.

The favourite to win the survivor pool has been eliminated!  Mike's team fell victim to a horrible cold streak from one goalie and a nasty illness with his other one and it has now eliminated his side from the goalie survivor pool.  Jake Allen and Sergei Bobrovsky were both unable to pick up a win and that was that.

John S. now becomes the favourite to win, as he leads both Stacey M. and Troy in the total number of wins this season and by a fair margin as well.  Was being the favourite the kiss of death, perhaps?  We'll soon find out.

And then there were three!

NEWS AND NOTES

There was a good scare in Boston, as Tuukka Rask was forced from a game early in the week, thanks to a lower-body injury, but it didn't seem to reek too much havoc on the Bruins or on Troy, as he didn't miss a great deal of time.  Rask was able to still pick up a couple wins this week, so the scare was very minimal.

Some of these flu bugs have been really awful this season and I am sure Sabres starter Robin Lehner could attest to that. Lehner missed three games this past week with the flu, but on the plus side for himself, the Sabres and Jeremy in the pool, he should be back in the net tonight, when the Sabres take on the Stars.

A lower-body injury has been to blame for the absence of Micheal Ferland from the Calgary Flames' lineup over the weekend.  Ferland was hurt midweek and wasn't able to participate in Friday's game at home to the Devils or Saturday's Battle of Alberta in Edmonton on Sunday.  One of the key reasons why Derek B. couldn't get out of the basement at the end of the week.

Speaking of key reasons, the nasty flu that has been making the rounds, was also catching up to Sergei Bobrovsky, as noted above in the elimination of Mike's team from the survivor pool.  It looks as though the Russian will be ready to go this week, but that doesn't save Mike's team at the moment, as his money chances have taken a big hit.

After being a healthy scratch so many times last season, pretty much to the point of being annoying, it was a surprise to me that Wes picked up Colorado's Patrick Weircioch in the Waiver Draft, because sure enough, he was going to be a scratch again, eventually.  Saturday night was just that case and there he was... in the press box!

The Nashville Predators are trying to find their way through some inconsistency and they may have found some after scratching forward Mike Ribeiro for the better part of this week.  With the return of James Neal from the IR was a big help to that and they have managed to post three straight wins despite the loss of Roman Josi to an upper-body injury.  A busy week, indeed.  Cam won't be sure when he'll get Ribeiro back and Stacey C. will have to wait until later in the week before he knows when Josi will return.

Devils rookie forward Pavel Zacha did find himself in the press box early in the week, but since then, he has played in the rest of the Pacific Division trip, including Sunday night's stop in Vancouver.  Zacha has been prone to a scratch every once and a while, so he's not out of the woods yet, which means Wilton is in the same boat.

Lots more injury concerns in Brooklyn, as Travis Hamonic landed on the IR with a lower-body injury on Thursday, while Johnny Boychuk missed a weekend tilt to an upper-body injury, but could be ready to go after missing one game, while Andrew Ladd missed out on today's game with an undisclosed injury.

The New York Rangers' goaltending controversy will take a small break, as Antti Raanta is expected to miss a week with a lower-body injury.  This will make this week an anxious one for Stacey M., as her team is still in the survivor mix and she could really use both of her goalies.

The Flyers were not short on news this past week either.  Matt Read hit the shelf with a lower-body injury on Friday, missed a pair of games, Radko Gudas missed one game as a healthy scratch, as did Shayne Gostisbehere and then Brandon Manning was the third defender to get the press box treatment.  Scott's forward is the only one that missed significant time, as the three defenders have only missed one and was back.

Finally, the Pittsburgh Penguins will miss Kris Letang again this season, as the often-injured defenseman has hit the Injured Reserve again, thanks to a lower-body injury.  This one could be a bit of a doozy, given how fast the team put him on the IR on Monday.  Letang was hurt on Saturday evening.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Noon Player Notes in the Draft (Jan 10)

The New York Islanders may be without defenseman Travis Hamonic for Wednesday night's game against the Florida Panthers, as he suffered an injury on Saturday night. The Islanders have not said what kind of injury it was, but the veteran defender was not on the ice for Monday's practice, which has raised a couple eyebrows.

Ryan's defense has been sub-par this season and Hamonic is one of the reasons for that, as the contributions have been few and far between and now if he is going to miss some time, it isn't going to get any better.

Morning Player Updates in the Draft (Jan 10)

Capitals forward T.J. Oshie was not in the lineup for the game against the Canadiens, due to an upper-body injury, one that he suffered on Saturday night. Oshie is listed as day-to-day and isn't too far away from making a return, as he was on the ice for the morning, so it might be fair to say that he got a night off as a precaution.

Marcie's team missed out on a key game from Oshie, who has been okay this season, scoring 13 goals and 20 points in 32 games, but has had his fair share of injury troubles.  Her team has been recovering from a bit of a spill, back up to 9th place, only 18 points out of the money.

On Monday, the Edmonton Oilers opted to finally give Jesse Puljujarvi some playing time and they sent him down to the AHL. Since he isn't a graduate of the Canadian Hockey League, he is eligible to do so as a teenager.  The 4th overall pick in this past June's draft has not quite lived up to the billing, but he hasn't exactly been afforded much time with the depth and seniority they already have in their lineup.

Unfortunately for Mike, this leaves another hole in his forward group, which already ranks 24th in scoring in the pool this season, with 137 points.  Puljujarvi certainly has some long-term upside, but his 2017 season might be close to done in the NHL.



Monday, January 09, 2017

Week Thirteen Newsletter



Between the Gold Medal Game for the World Juniors on Thursday night and taking an extra long weekend, the blog site got horribly neglected and the pool site wasn't exactly up-to-date for most of the weekend.  Hopefully, we're back to some regularly scheduled programming with the Newsletter and back to some kind of normalcy.  We'll see about that though.

Let's play some serious catch-up!



It was a battle of a pair of goalies for the Player of the Week nod this week, but it did come down to the ranking tie-breakers, which kicks off with wins, which may not make for the more impressive week, but it is what it is.  With a 3-0-0 record and a shutout, Ryan Miller outranked Braden Holtby, who had 2 wins and 2 shutouts, in the week for the nod, both finishing with 8 points each.

Miller beat the Avalanche on Monday, shutout the Coyotes on Wednesday and then beat the Flames on Friday night to earn the honour, his first nod since Week Fifteen of the 2015 season, nearly two years ago.  In the all-time rankings, this is his fifth Player of the Week nod, his first coming back in the 2011 season.

The Canucks have done the better part of the season splitting the playing time, but of late, it has been Miller's net, but his overall totals are still not exactly sparkling.  With the 8-point week, it brought the veteran keeper's numbers up to 12 wins, 1 shutout and 1 assist in 24 appearances, giving him 27 points, which is only good for 89th overall in pool scoring.

For Brenda & Seward, Miller's nod gives them two nods already this season, both coming from their goaltenders, and it has helped them up into the money conversation, since they finished the week in 4th place, only 2 points out of 3rd and 7 points out of 2nd.  Since I have the historical numbers up, this is Brenda's 10th Player of the Week nod, since she got started in the pool in 2012.

It was a fairly decent Mover & Shaker race in Week Thirteen and going into Sunday's action, Stuart's team was trying to hold off a few teams from trying to knock his off the perch, but in the end, his team had held on, picking up a couple necessary points and he gets his second nod of the regular season with 33 points and moving up to 8th place, from 12th the week before.

It was a pretty solid week through his active lineup, as only four of his players finished the week with naughts.  Cory Schneider of the Devils was the best of the bunch, finishing with 6 points in the week.  Zach Parise of the Wild was the next best, with 5 points, while Jakub Voracek of the Flyers, Victor Hedman of the Lightning and Duncan Keith of the Blackhawks all finished with 4 points.

Stuart's team is at least keeping his hope alive, as his team is the last of the bunch, already over the 300-point mark this season, and his team is only 14 points out of the money.  His team only made up 4 points on the current 3rd place team, but there is still half the season left to go.

Yeah, I guess we are at the official halfway point of the season... funny, I should only mention that right now.

The 2017 season, to date, has been rather up and down for Stuart's team, as it has been as high as 2nd place (end of Week Two) and as low as 16th (end of Week One), but since those early weeks, it has fluctuated between 6th and 12th.

It was looking like our former pool leader was going to take the cake for the Basement Dweller, but a little extra luck on Sunday got him up and out, leaving a tie for the bottom of the weekly standings between Tony and Eric to duke it out.  First tie-breaker... least amount of goals.  The margin here was 6-3 between the two teams... and it was Eric's team that couldn't light the lamp and his team takes its first Basement Dweller nod of the season.

Eric's team has suffered some significant injuries in the last few weeks, namely to Jamie Benn of the Stars and P.K. Subban of the Predators, really nullifying his scoring from a couple key picks.  His top player in the week was Patrick Marleau of the Sharks, finishing with 3 points, but he had six players on his active roster with nothing, really bringing the totals down.

At the start of the season, it was a real tough go for Eric's team and his team was 25th in Week Three, but was really starting to make strides up, going from 19th to 13th in Week Ten, then getting as high as 10th at the end of Week Twelve.  Unfortunately, the Basement Dweller week has now set him back down to 17th and the work begins from a ways back.

There has been another change in the money positions, mostly in 3rd place again, where Scott has seen his team lift back up in the money at Newsletter time, the first time since Week Ten.  Benson has now fallen from 1st to 5th in the matter of two weeks and his team is sinking like a stone.

Brian and Cam are still 1st and 2nd in the pool today and the gap between the two of them remains at 13 points, as their teams both finished with 26 points in Week Thirteen.  The gap between 2nd and 3rd is 5 points, so there is plenty of play left there.

Next, the goon team of the week!  Marcie's team continues to rack up those minutes, capturing the goon team of the week again at 34 minutes, 7 minutes better than Marcin's team, which isn't really in the overall race.  Cam was 10 minutes back in the week and his team is among the mini-game leaders, also trying to make some moves.

Kristy & Don's team must be feeling a bit nervous now, this is all they have left to play for and the next Waiver Draft might not come quick enough for them.  Their lead is now down to 29 minutes and now closing quickly.

It took until Saturday night, but Troy finally picked up his win, which has made for all four teams to make it through once again, no real faltering from anyone here at the moment.

This coming week, Week Fourteen, is another busy one, with 47 games again on the NHL docket, which means Troy, John S., Stacey M. and Mike all should have enough shots to make it through for another week.  This is already five straight weeks without an elimination, but we're only a couple weeks away from the All-Star shortened week as well.

If you missed it earlier last week, we did have the Winter Classic on Monday and a good recap of that game on the blog, one of the few things I got done on time this week.  But a quick recap now, as we are still almost two months away from the last game and we still have a Waiver Draft to help out that cause to come.

Marcie leads this mini-game with 6 points, followed by Derek B., Scott, Jeremy, Marcin and Stuart, who all have 3 points, in varying tie-breaking scenarios.  Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are slated to go on February 25th.

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING

It wasn't a great week for scoring or penalty minutes, despite the roughly even amount of participation in the league this week, comparing to last week.  Scoring was down from 13 points per game, down to 12.1 points per game on the NHL schedule, while the penalty minutes were down from 10.4 to 9.8.  It doesn't look like much either way, but when we crave points and minutes... we need more!!

NEWS AND NOTES

An upper-body injury was the reason why Nashville Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson was held out of the lineup against the Panthers.  He was listed as day-to-day on Friday night, but the Predators didn't have much for updates on the forward going forward.  On Sunday, the Predators were in Chicago and he wasn't on the ice for that game either, but there still hasn't been much of an update made on his situation, except for his day-to-day listing.

Arizona Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal suffered an upper-body injury on Friday night against the Anaheim Ducks and that forced him from playing in Saturday night's game, at home to the Islanders.  There hasn't been any word on the results of any tests done, but he's currently listed on the news page as day-to-day and we'll see what the Coyotes have to say here in the next couple days.

Talk about a rough season for Edmonton's Jesse Puljujarvi, who hasn't been able to find any consistency in the Oilers lineup this season.  On Saturday night, he was a healthy scratch again in New Jersey.  The 4th overall pick in the Entry Draft has only seen 28 games this season and hasn't cracked the 10-point mark yet and he isn't getting much for playing time on top of that.

The Florida Panthers are still in the Atlantic Division playoff race, but things continue to be difficult for them on the injury front.  Forward Nick Bjugstad has been put on the Injured Reserve again this weekend, this time with a groin injury.  The Panthers are suggesting that he is expected to miss a couple of weeks.  The Panthers are also taking an injury approach to giving Roberto Luongo some time off, citing an upper-body injury again on Saturday night, giving him a night off away from the pads on what could be a scheduled night off, as he is expected to be back in net tonight in New Jersey.

Lots of confusion about the Ottawa Senators' lineup on Saturday night, when Bobby Ryan was a scratch for unknown reasons, when they were slated to take on the Capitals. The coaching staff was rather tight-lipped about the whole thing on Sunday morning, ahead of the second half of back-to-back games, home to Edmonton.  Ryan was able to dress for the game and play and just before the game, it sounded like he was a scratch for an internal issue of some sort.

The home-and-home series against the Flames was pretty rough on the Canucks, as they lost the services of a couple defenders, including pool defenseman Ben Hutton, who missed the second game of the series, due to an upper-body injury he suffered the night before.  Hutton ended up blocking a shot up high and that forced him from action, to which he's now listed as day-to-day right now.

The phenom that is Patrik Laine may have been grounded for a little while, as he was the recipient of a crushing blow from Buffalo's Jake McCabe on Saturday afternoon, a violent hit which saw some contact to the Winnipeg rookie's head.  It is believed that he has suffered a concussion, but we're awaiting that official word from the team, but there's a good chance he'll be walking through the concussion protocol, regardless.

There was one more note from the Nashville Predators, as forward Colin Wilson missed out on Sunday night's game against the Blackhawks, as he is dealing with an undisclosed injury. The Predators haven't said much here, at the time of publishing, but we're keeping an eye on it. He's listed as day-to-day right now and if anything major comes up, we'll have it for you.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Goalie Announcements (Jan 5)

Well, last night's projected survival game didn't turn out to be the case, as Stacey M. didn't even get a start from Antti Raanta, so we're still watching all three teams that are not Mike's team in the mini-game. Troy, John S. and Stacey are all looking for a win and they are all getting some work tonight.

Cam Talbot vs. Tuukka Rask
The first of the survival games on the schedule goes in Boston, where Troy's only hope for staying in this mini-game, Rask, gets the start against the Oilers.  Marcie's number one goalie will get the opportunity to play spoiler tonight, with only a few nights left in the week after this one.

Pekka Rinne (unc) vs. Andrei Vasilevskiy
Although it is still unconfirmed, at the time of writing the post, it is fair to say that Stacey's goalie, Rinne, will get the start for Nashville and we know for sure that Ryan's goalie will be the one playing spoiler in this game tonight.  Ryan's team does have the better standing, but that won't come into play tonight, as this will be a pretty good game both ways.

Devan Dubnyk vs. Martin Jones
The last of the survival games will be one of the late games tonight, with the Minnesota Wild cruising through California and stopping San Jose for the night.  John S. gets a Dubnyk start, while Wes gets a start out of Jones again tonight.  The Wild have been hot with their goalie of late, but the Sharks aren't resting on any laurels right now.

Sergei Bobrovsky (unc) vs. Braden Holtby
It's the goalie that should have been taken 1st overall against the goalie that was taken 1st overall in this year's draft in Washington, as Mike and Jeremy's goalies go head-to-head.  The Jackets are still on their streak, can Holtby and the Caps knock them off their high horse?

Cam Ward vs. Jake Allen
Mike gets both of his goalies going again tonight, as if he needed the wins or something.  Allen will play host to one of the goalies of the pool leader, Brian, which makes for an interesting match-up.

Anders Nilsson vs. Corey Crawford
All of a sudden, there is a windfall of goalie minutes for Ryan's team and his goalies are taking advantage of it.  Nilsson gets another start for the Sabres, coming off of a win, taking on Marcin's rebounding team and his goalie Crawford, in Chicago.

Jared Coreau vs. Jeff Zatkoff
And we'll finish the night with a non-pool match-up, between the Red Wings and the Kings... who cares?  Not us... that's who!