Friday, December 29, 2006

Heading Into the Weekend of Week Thirteen

It's been a while since I did a "Heading Into the Weekend" article, but I thought... what the hell?!? I'll do it.

In the folder called, "Things to Consider"...
With the injury to J-S Giguere this week, the Ducks went out and acquired goaltender, Sebastian Caron (Box 12 as well), from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for three minor league forwards. Giguere's groin injury could be a tricky one, despite an MRI revealing that there isn't a tear in his groin muscle at all. With Ilya Bryzgalov (Box 6) battling a "lower body" injury as well, the Ducks were in need of some major league experience for cheap and Caron is there guy. It does seem to me, that if things are not on the up and up, Caron might be the guy who will come, literally, out of nowhere and steal a bunch of points from the great Ducks defense. Granted, when one of the two regulars come back, they'll get the better of the ice-time.

Some Happier News Then...
For the couple of us, me included, who had picked Danny Markov to be a darkhorse in the pool, he had finally returned to the Wings line-up after a broken bone in his hand and has started to make some waves. In his second game back, he recorded a goal and an assist in the Red Wings win over Columbus on Thursday night.

Thursday night saw the return of Ryan Smyth to the Oilers line-up. For pool owners (all 3 of you), it was a happy return, as Smyth recorded a goal in his first game back. Sadly, the Oilers (snicker) lost the game 7-4.

There were a couple teams in the pool who were happy to see a couple Flyers return to the line-up last night. Well, kind of, I guess. Tim saw his Box 24 goalie, Robert Esche, return with a win last night. But for Esche, he'll be diminished to having no owners on Monday, as Tim is trading him away. Peter Forsberg on the other hand, owned by Gerald, had 3 assists in his return. What does it all mean, you ask? Nothing really... just thought it was worth noting.

Mover & Shaker Candidates
Caterina: +5 positions, 34 points
Clayton: +3 positions, 43 points

Basement Dweller Candidates
Derek W.: -5 positions, 11 points
Bryan: -3 positions, 20 points

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Sky Is Falling

Well, Boxing Day isn't the luckiest of days for the Anaheim Ducks. Already without Ilya Bryzgalov, the Ducks lost their number one keeper, J-S Giguere to a groin injury. Giguere, the co-leader in points in the pool, left the Boxing Day match against the Sharks midway through the second period. As of this morning, there is no word to the extent of how bad the injury actually is, but as groin injuries have been going this season, it could be two games or it could be an extended period of time.

Also with the Ducks, they lost playoff performing defenseman, Francois Beauchemin to a "lower body" injury as well against the Sharks. He left the game as well and the Ducks have yet to say the type of injury or how long the injury will keep him out.

The Canucks ended the Flames 10-game home winning streak on Boxing Day and snapped their own 6-game losing streak on the road... so tonight is time for the Flames to exact a little revenge in GM Place. Daniel Sedin had a pair of goals and brother, Henrik, had a pair of assists in the game. Roberto Luongo picked up the win and only two points as Chuck Kobasew & Andrew Ference each picked up assists on rookie, David Moss' goal.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Week Twelve Newsletter

At the end of twelve weeks, you can really tell that the Top 6 are pulling away. The Top 6 have all eclipsed the 700-point barrier... the only teams to do so. There are teams that are keeping themselves close... relatively. With Dan at 712 points and in 6th, teams like Paul and Suzanne might be tempted to make a move to improve their status in the pool.

Another tell-tale sign that the teams up top have been starting to coast is that the Top 11 teams in the pool didn't move any positions. With a lot of relatively close looking players on their teams, all it could take is one trade to pull themselves away from one another. Don't forget, there are a few teams on the outside looking in who have players who are catching fire and making moves.

Hot teams over the last little while:
Larry: +6 places in the last 4 weeks
Caterina: +9 places in the last 5 weeks

On an elevator goin' down:
Stuart: -11 places places in the last 6 weeks
Derek W.: - 9 places in the last 4 weeks

Let's see what happened in Week Twelve...

Player of the Week
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A repeat performance of a Week Five Player of the Week award winning form, Bruins forward Marc Savard has come back to reclaim the award. Savard registered two goals and six assists in Week Twelve's three games.

Two goals and two assists against the Senators in the Bruins' 7-2 win, two more assists against Vancouver and yet another two assists against Montreal on Saturday. The six teams that have him as their Eastern second-line centre. Savard also gained a couple points on Box 20 leader, Vincent Lecavalier.

Well, it was kind of tough to pick the Mover & Shaker for Week 12, there are a couple really good candidates. In the end, I think spreading the recognition around to everyone makes a little bit more sense. Rob moved up five positions in Week 12, while amassing the third highest amount of points in the pool (only the leaders accrued more points). With players like Marty Turco (7 points), Ilya Kovalchuk & Vincent Lecavalier (6 points) in tow, Rob moved squarely into the Top 20 (16th). With a couple more hot weeks like this past one, Rob could move himself up into the Top 10, as he’s only 15 points behind 10th.

In hopes of keeping himself in the Top 20, Scott made his last trades of the season for Week 13. Sadly, it didn’t keep him away from the Basement Dweller spot, as he fell out of the coveted Top 20 and into 21st. It was a less-than impressive 38 points that moved him down in the Standings. He had a few guys that made great strides, but there wasn’t enough consistency throughout his line-up and that’s where he lost out to his peers. Fortunately, it looks like with the picking up of Sidney Crosby this week, Scott will back to his fine form and back where he wants to be, sooner rather than later.

Well, it seems like it’s somewhat of a two-horse race… ‘cuz the two horses that are racing are neck-in-neck. At the end of Week 12, J-S Giguere had made up the two points he was trailing Sidney Crosby, to tie up the lead at 55 points. Giguere picked up an assist on top of a normal two wins to end up with 5 points in the week, while Crosby only picked up 3 points. The two are still 4 points up on Jaromir Jagr, so it’s not like they are really running away with it at the moment.

Long-term Injuries and Pool Trades
Not much longer after the defensemen trade, the Flyers and Islanders were at the trade table again. This time, the Islanders sent Box 13 forward, Mike York to the Flyers in exchange for non-pool player Randy Robitaille. Is this really of any significance, you ask? Nope. No one has York. York hasn't played with Yashin at all. York will probably be a second line player for the Flyers... but they don't score much beyond Simon Gagne... who he won't play with. This is just a paragraph full of hot air.

On Monday, there was one trade that took effect before puck drop. Marcus decided to drop Rick Nash from his 4th place team and upgrade to Paul Kariya. A ballsy move to try and make up some ground on 3rd place, Don. Kariya, who doesn't play for any of the top six teams in the pool, will provide a spark in Box 1 for Marcus.

The Rangers on Tuesday sent the unproductive Sandis Ozolinsh to the minors since he wasn't claimed by any other teams on the waiver wire. There is very much doubt that he'll see action again with the Rangers, unless there is injuries to the current line-up. Even so, there might be a few prospects ahead of Sandis in the pecking order. If you're this team or this team... you may want to consider dropping him.

First line centre, Box 14 star, high scoring player, Jason Spezza, will miss six weeks after somewhat of a fluke injury that cost him his knee. Spezza, who has been a very strong player in the pool has been lost for a substantial amount of time. Three teams with zero trades remaining have lost Spezza for good. Seven teams remain to have Spezza.

With Jason Spezza going out, there were a couple trades made to compensate for his loss. Both Derek & Nicole and Scott both dropped the young Sens centre for one of the best players in the pool, Sidney Crosby.

There were also some other moves that might shake the core of the Top 10. Josh dropped a few players and upgraded his team to make a run for the Top 6. He's down in 12th at the moment, but with the pick-ups he made, there's a good chance that he could make up the 29 points that he's behind 6th place.

When this story is written, there is still a little bit of time before puck drop for more trades to be made.

Hockey Night In Canada this week...

The last Hockey Night In Canada of 2006 will have two division battles and 100% Canadian content for our viewing pleasure. The early game will feature the Ottawa Senators take on the Toronto Maple Leafs. A game where points can be had... Heatley, Alfredsson and Spezza will line-up against the Leaf blueline of McCabe and Kaberle. A barnburner, it should be. In the late game, the Canucks travel to Edmonton to face the Oil. The Sedin twins will try to work their magic against Petr Sykora and Jarret Stoll in a battle for position in the Northwest Division.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Week Eleven Newsletter

I suppose if there was anything to describe the after-effects of Week Eleven, it would be that the best just keep getting better. With number one and number two putting up some pretty big weeks, the thought process is that they are building a big enough lead in case a catastrophe happens in the latter part of the season. 1st to 2nd place dropped to a 20 point difference... 2nd to 3rd increased to 12 points... 3rd through 5th remained the same... while there's a new team in 6th spot who is only 1 point behind 5th. Then there is a 10 point difference to 7th place. The money is somewhat safe of anyone new for a week or so... unless there's big gains in the bottom half of the Top 10.

Let's see what happened in Week Eleven...

Player of the Week
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The last thing this should do is come to you as a shock. If you didn't see Sidney Crosby light it up this week, you must have been under one hell of a rock.

In four games this week, Sid the Kid registered 3 goals and 10 assists for the Penguins, who went 3-1 in Week Eleven. With that huge performance during the week, he leap-frogged a couple players for the NHL scoring lead. Actually, it was his 6-point performance on Wednesday against the Flyers that brought him over the top. The 4 points against the Islanders on Friday night padded his lead.

This week's Mover & Shaker, Brydon, moved up a good four places in the pool to be solidly in the Top 20. He made good use of Crosby's 13 points, Iginla's 8 points and Thornton & Ovechkin's 7 points. That's all it takes... capitalize on a few players having hot weeks and hope that you have more of the players than anyone else does. Brydon, however, only had the third highest point total in the week, but it was where he was and how many places that he moved up which garnered him the award in Week Eleven.

You win some... you lose some. When the Ottawa Senators are your bread and butter, you got to hope that they play as dominating as they did in Week Four instead of cooling down, as they did in Week Eleven. Derek W. found this out the hard way, only garnering 49 points in the week and dropping 7 spots and out of the money. Out of his seven Senators, there was only 11 points gained... Jason Spezza having 5 and Dany Heatley had 3. That isn't the sort of production one needs to stay in the money, especially when the race is so close.

Last week, J-S Giguere had a pretty good lead in the points department in the pool, but was Sidney Crosby's huge week enough to de-throne the Duck from top spot? Actually, it was enough. Crosby now has a 2-point lead over the Anaheim goaltender and he also has a 5-point lead over Jaromir Jagr, who is in third place in pool scoring. Crosby, the Box 14 leader as well, has a 9-point lead over Jason Spezza, who is second in that box. It's no surprise that he was the most popular player in Box 14 with 17 selections as well.

Long-term Injuries and Pool Trades
Well, the trade wire has been very quiet of late. The first 10 weeks had trades coming from everywhere, but the last two weeks, nothing has changed. There are quite a few teams who have lots of trades remaining, so the trading shouldn't be done quite yet. I'm sure there will be some late season moves... some teams need to make that extra move to jump a few more places.

Rookie forward, Phil Kessel, underwent surgery to remove cancerous cells in his body. What was understood to be testicular cancer, was successfully removed by doctors in New England and Kessel should make a full recovery. It isn't clear when he'll return to the Bruins line-up.

Dallas forward, Mike Modano, has been put on the Injured Reserve list with a lower body injury. He is still considered day-to-day, but he has already missed a significant amount of games.

Although there hasn't been much for trades in the pool, two pool players were swapped this weekend. The trade saw defenseman Alexei Zhitnik move to Philadelphia for young defender, Freddie Meyer IV. Zhitnik has been brought in to help out a struggling blueline in Philly and Meyer, who has seen limited ice time all year, will find some more ice time on Long Island. This is really a band-aid solution for the Flyers, but it may give them a little more credibility when it comes to the Eastern Conference. Hell... it couldn't get any worse.

Hockey Night In Canada this week...

Alexander the Gr8 will be in Toronto as the Capitals will be hosted by the Maple Leafs in the early game this Saturday. Darcy Tucker and Mats Sundin will try to continue their current hot streak on the scoring sheet. In the late game, the Flames will continue their road trip in San Jose when they take on the Sharks. The Flames Pacific Division tour could be one of the toughest to win on, especially with their road woes as a concern.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Week Ten Newsletter

Well, if we're to be talking money... and that's what the pool is all about... the Top 6 teams in the pool didn't change in the way of names that occupy the spots. The order changed a little bit, but in essence, the ones who are in the money have remained. That isn't to say it couldn't change... 11th place is only 13 points back of 6th place and it does drastically shrink as you move up the list.

If you're in the Top 21 (teams tied for 20th), you're only, at worst, 42 points behind. That isn't too far away from the money. We've got still 17 or 18 weeks left in the year. If you can fall behind that far in 10 weeks, then you can make it up and pass them in twice that. How's that for wishful thinking?

Let's see what happened in Week Ten...

Player of the Week
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When people were dropping Kipper for this week's Player of the Week, there was a thought that the Flames would not climb back to where they were before. Then all of a sudden, the Flames came out of nowhere and the few that made the decision to jump ship were left falling behind. That is, until Week Ten... for those who took Marty Turco, of course. Since Week Five, Turco has only gained two points less than Kipper, which has made the difference somewhat immeasurable. Not that bad despite the hot streak Calgary has been on.

In Week Ten, Turco went 3-1 with two shutouts (San Jose & Phoenix) to record the most points in the pool. It almost makes you want to drop Kipper now, eh?

In Week Six, we had ourselves a record performance of 92 points. In Week Ten, the record was eclipsed by a tremendous 96-point effort by Jeff. He managed to capitalize on just about every top scoring player in the boxes this past week, including our Player of the Week, Marty Turco. This is, by far, one of the most impressive collections of points to secure his 2nd M&S award of the year. The big move puts him only one point behind second place and still 22 points behind first place. It's not to say he isn't trying anyways... or his players, for that matter.

This week's Basement Dweller fell out of the Top 10 with the biggest fall in the pool of five spots. Randy managed to collect 58 points this week, but it wasn't nearly enough to keep up with his peers in the same Standings bracket. The teams around him were tallying over 60 points each and it was a week where Randy just couldn't keep up. He now finds himself 14 points behind 10th spot, the place he held only one week ago. It's a total that is more than manageable to reclaim, it's just a matter of having his players get hot once again.

Who's the player you wish you had? Who is the highest scoring player in the pool today? Would this paragraph convince you to trade for him if you didn't have him already? Do you know who it is? Or do you know the team he plays for?

Well, I know the anticipation is killing you... so I'll just tell ya. Box 12's Jean-Sebastian Giguere is the top point-getter in the pool as of Week Ten. With the uncertainty of the goaltending situation in Anaheim over the summer, it was quite respectable to think that Giguere was going to be the number two guy for the Ducks. But when Bryzgalov shot his mouth off and couldn't back it up in the crease, Giguere took his position, laughing all the way to the bank.

Giguere has 19 wins (leads the NHL) and 4 shutouts (tied for 1st) to lead the pool with 46 points. Two points ahead of Jaromir Jagr for the overall lead and 24 points of Evgeni Nabokov for the Box 12 lead. Gonna trade for him now??

Long-term Injuries and Pool Trades
As of Sunday morning, there were rumbles of trades amongst the people close to the Newsletter writer, but there hasn't been any action as of yet. There have been injuries, there have been returns, but there have been no trades.

14 teams still have five trades remaining this season, including a few teams in the Top 6. Seven teams have sold the farm on their trades, using them up already this year. There are teams with one trade remaining, mostly using them for a long-term injury or unforseen circumstances.

The St. Louis Blues were hit very hard in the crease this week, losing both Curtis Sanford and Manny Legace for what could be long-term. Now, since the Blues were not very popular amongst the Poolies this year, I won't go into too much detail. Since St. Louis hasn't been winning (you know they're last place in the league, right?), having a goalie in St. Louis is awfully silly.

The Red Wings and one team in the pool will be without defenseman, Danny Markov, for three to four weeks. Markov suffered a broken hand while blocking a shot this week. Markov, who has been having somewhat of a slow season thus far, will still be missed in that month.

Defenseman, Teppo Numminen, will be out indefintely with a broken toe. Numminen, taken eight times, will be missing for what is more likely to be a few weeks.

Mike Richards will be lost for an indefinite period with an abdominal injury. It's unclear at the moment what the injury is and there is certainly no idea of how long he'll be out. It really doesn't matter though... no one has him either.

Hockey Night In Canada this week...

Saturday's match-ups for normal cable's Hockey Night In Canada will feature the high-scoring Rangers take on the now lowly Maple Leafs. Jagr, Straka, Nylander and Shanahan will all try and have their way against Andrew Raycroft and lacklustre Leafs defense. In the second game, it's another Northwest Division battle between the Minnesota Wild and the Canucks. The Wild are beginning to get healthy again, while the Canucks can't decide which side of .500 they want to be on. The division remains very close and this will prove to be an important game.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Twenty Years Is Enough

Back pain was the leading cause of the end of a great career. Panthers centre, Joe Nieuwendyk, retired from hockey today, leaving one pool team on the lurch for the rest of the year.

In pool terms, only Mike R. had Nieuwendyk as the two other teams who took him, Chris M. and Brian M. both dropped him for more scoring. Mike has already made his five trades in the year and is now left with a guy who is guaranteed not to make the line-up for any more games in Miami. If there wasn't an argument for keeping a trade or two around for retirements or long-term injuries.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Triumphant Return?

Well, just in case you were wondering... just in case you were one of the three teams who still care... Hurricanes forward, Cory Stillman, will be returning to the line-up tomorrow night in Calgary.

If you feel that Wellwood isn't doing it for you anymore... or Straka & Vanek aren't quite your cup of tea... then let me suggest that Box 19 might have a new sheriff in town. Stillman hasn't seen any action yet this season and will open up his second season with the Canes on the Northwest Division tour.

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Week Nine Newsletter

The leader might not be changing from week to week, but the people in the money positions seem to be changing every time we come back to the Newsletter. We have two new teams in the money this week, both Marcus and Derek W. have moved themselves in. What's most remarkable is that both teams were in the 30's early on in the year at some point and slowly climbed their way into the money. Granted, it'll be a lot harder to close the gap if you're in the 30's now, but there is still many weeks to go and all you need is some hot players or a change in personnel for some hot players.

If you've noticed this week, there can be a big difference in weekly points, even within the money leaders in the pool. Before Sunday's games, there was a 19 point difference between Marcus and Trevor this week... and they're both in line for money, if the season ended today. Where could a 19 point difference get you?? (All numbers are written before the two Sunday games)

1st to 2nd - 22 points... 2nd to 7th - 18 points... 7th to 15th - 17 points... 15th to 20th - 17 points... 20th to 26th - 17 points... and then it gets a little skewed past 26th. In one month, with the hottest pool team, you could be in the money (theoretically) starting from the 20's. Hey... it's possible!

Let's see what happened in Week Nine...

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I had this part already written out earlier on Sunday morning, but ohhhh no... Viktor Kozlov had to have four goals to beat the Rangers on Sunday afternoon and now I have to write the Player of the Week award all over again. What a gip! Anyways... Viktor Kozlov... you know the one. Viktor... spelled with a 'k'. Right, Fred?

In four games this week, Kozlov scored seven goals and notched a pair of assists for a pool-high nine points. Not a bad showing... and guess how many teams have him. One. That's how many. More teams took the other Kozlov... Viacheslav (or Slava) Kozlov in Atlanta. Probably for good reason too... he's on a higher scoring team. But Week Nine was the week that Viktor rubbed Slava's face in it.

It was a pretty tight week for the Mover & Shaker Award... four teams were vying for the honour coming into Sunday and nothing was really solved in the end. Four teams cracked the 60 point plateau this week (a low scoring week) and all of them moved at least four places up the Standings, but one moved up five places and they were the biggest mover.

Josh, a previous Basement Dweller, has now earned both the honour and dishonour of the pool. Josh's team racked up 63 points, which saved him from his nose dive out of the Top 20 and moved him from 19th to 14th and in good shape to re-join the Top 10 at any given time in the next few weeks.

Josh took full advantage of the Anaheim Ducks this week as 18 of his 63 points came from his five Ducks. He also schemed 12 points from his four Flames. When you find yourself with players from a hot team, you're very likely to make it into this spot as well.

Much like the M&S for this week, the Basement Dweller had a few candidates that made very good arguments to bring the logo onto their webpage. In the end, it was a former money place holder, who has fallen off the pace a bit in the last week.

A slow week for the Sharks was a contributing factor for Dan W. to have an off week and keep him from being in the Top 10 by the end of Week Nine. Dan's 45 points wasn't necessarily the worst point total of the week, but he did drop a whopping six spots, dropping from the money (6th place) to out of the Top 10 (12th). It's not to say the 18 points he lost on 6th place can't be made up... because it certainly can. That's what I was writing about earlier in the Newsletter.

Long-term Injuries and Pool Trades
This week had it's fair share of injuries. Monday had the Yashin injury and the not-so devastating broken finger of J-S Giguere... there were a few more longer term injuries in the pool this week.

Well, in case you were looking to the Flyers for new pick-ups (yeah, right)... you wouldn't want to look towards Robert Esche after he underwent groin surgery. He'll be out for about a month. If you were looking for a big & slow defenseman to highlight your defense corps, don't look to Mike Rathje as his back has given him lots of problems... so much so that there are rumours of an impending retirement.

A team that actually has picks suffered some losses this week. On Thursday, Ales Hemsky was diagnosed with a separated shoulder and it will keep him out of the line-up for at least a couple weeks. On Saturday night, not only did the Oilers lose to the lowly Blue Jackets, but they also lost Ryan Smyth to a broken thumb. It doesn't look too rosy in Edmonton at the moment.

With Marian Gaborik inching closer to returning, defenseman and slightly-popular pick-up, Kurtis Foster, suffered a throat injury and is listed as out indefinitely. Foster, a low-level defenseman in the pool, was scoring at a good rate when the Wild were in their hot streak, cooled down, much like the team itself.

Have you dropped Wade Redden yet? He has been dropped five times so far this season, but he's still out there about eight times in the pool. Redden, who has been unlucky with his health this year, got mashed into the boards by Florida's Jay Bouwmeester and will now be out indefinitely with a shoulder injury. Bryan McCabe is the favourite to take Redden's spot in a line-up, but Brian Campbell is making a case to be a pick-up as well. Campbell is yet to be picked this season and the Sabres are scoring more.

Taken once, Nick Boynton suffered a foot injury that will keep him out of the line-up indefinitely. The Coyotes have been having an up & down season so far and the loss of Boynton may almost be counted as a blessing... Boynton has only registered two points and it could be a good chance for another player to step up and do the business in his absence.

Goaltender Curtis Sanford, who still remains on one pool team, will be out of the line-up for 6 to 8 weeks with a pulled groin. Sanford, who was really battling with Manny Legace for the number one job in St. Louis, was going to be used for a lot of minutes, but the Blues have not been giving their goaltenders much help for wins and points for the pool.

Hockey Night In Canada this week...

An Original Six battle highlights the early game, while the Northwest Division is the basis of the nightcap on Hockey Night In Canada this Saturday.

Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe will travel across the lakes to get to the Motor City to face Nicklas Lidstrom and his Detroit Red Wings. It isn't a marquee pool match-up, but it should be a pretty good game, depending on which Toronto Maple Leafs team shows up for the evening.

And as if you didn't know the importance of this game in regards to the division, but the Canucks travel here to Calgary to face-off for a second time (of eight meetings). Roberto Luongo and the Canucks will try and avenge their home loss in November and Miikka Kiprusoff will do his best to shut up shop for the evening at the 'dome.

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