The Lead Changes Again
I don't know about you, but as an observer, the lead now changing from week to week is an excellent thing. Week Thirteen was all about Grant knocking down that 3-point lead that Chris had after last week and then putting a point in between them for the lead.
Grant's real strength is coming from the blueline, where his team leads the pool in average scoring per game from the blueline (0.658 points per game), while Chris' goaltending, which is now shorthanded, leads the pool at 1.4 points per 60 minutes played.
Neither team had a great week, which brought a few teams closer to their peak, which may make the whole race interesting again.
The Mo Money Shuffle
So, we know about the top two, but the top four continues to shuffle around as well. One team dropped out of the money spots, which left room for one team to slip on in. Allan is now suffering madly from the lack of his number one overall pick, dropping down from 3rd place to 7th, not unlike Kristy & Don, who fell some time ago.
Moving into 3rd place, from 6th, was Stacey C., who had a monster week, which will get highlighted in a little bit. Stacey now sits 9 points back of the two leaders and 8 points up on 4th, which is a nice bubble to be in.
4th place remained the same this week, as Stacey M. held on by the tips of her fingernails to the jersey prize, and her team now has five teams within 6 points of her prize position, waiting to pounce. This is one heck of a race.
With all the diet Newsletters published, there really hasn't been much space to touch on the second segment, which I'll do here. Our leader in the second segment is Chris, who leads with 139 points, followed closely by Cindy at 138 points, Ryan Miller at 134 points, Benson at 131 points and three teams at 130 points.
Our first segment winner, Allan, sits 17th with 105 points.
Scoring Way Up
I am not sure where all the scoring came from in Week Thirteen, but I'm sure we'll all take it. Being as though we went through the holiday break, there was only 42 games in the week, which is the second lowest we've seen this year, other than Week One. With that being said, we saw the 8th-best week in scoring, with 518 points, which gave us our 3rd-best scoring rate of 12.3 points per NHL game, something we haven't seen since Week Two, when all the bodies were healthy.
Skater games played were also down to nearly the pool low we've seen this year and the goalie minutes were at their lowest this season, so where did the points come from?
Before Sunday night's games, it was looking a lot like we were going to have a Chicago Blackhawks player, as the top billed player in the pool, as they had a great shortened week, scoring at will. But no, that wasn't to be the case in the end, as the Pittsburgh Penguins were led by a huge night from one of their players, thus capturing the Player of the Week honour for himself outright.
Neal played in three games in Week Thirteen, but only made a difference in two, but what an impact it was!
On Monday, he was held pointless against the Ottawa Senators, but on Friday, he came back with a goal and two assists against the Carolina Hurricanes and then on Sunday, he really broke out with a hat trick and a pair of assists. 4 goals and 4 assists in the week and now Neal has 30 points, 14 goals and 16 assists in 21 games, scoring at a pace better than Sidney Crosby.
Neal's 30 points makes him 60th in pool scoring this season, but he's really on the rise. If it wasn't for some early injury problems, Neal could likely be in the top 10, but it is what it is.
Dale C. has Neal in the pool this year and his 30 points is tied for 2nd on his team in points, accounting for 10% of his total points this year. With Neal on the shelf in the early part of the year, Dale's team could not find much traction, but with Neal back in play, he has been situated in the top 10 and isn't out of the prizing conversation yet.
When Stacey C. has a good week, his weeks seem to be miles better than everyone else. Sure, his team is relying on very few NHL teams, putting most of his eggs in the basket of the Edmonton Oilers. When the Oilers go to town on the scoresheet, Stacey makes a jump in the standings and Week Thirteen was one giant leap for his kind.
Stacey's team finished Week Thirteen with 33 points, one of only two teams to break the 30-point barrier, and it moved him up to 3rd place, a money position, in the pool, from 6th place. Needless to say, this is his peak position in the standings this year, having hovered around 5th & 6th for the last month.
The big player for Stacey in the week was surprisingly not an Oilers player, rather his Waiver Draft pick-up, Reilly Smith of the Boston Bruins, who finished the week with 5 points. Devan Dubnyk had 4 points in the week, while Andrew Cogliano, Jordan Eberle, Milan Lucic, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and David Perron each had 3 points.
Stacey saw some big improvements in his overall scoring numbers from every position, his forwards, defense and goalies, which led to the big week. Stacey's team ranks around the pool average in scoring at every position, which isn't bad, especially since his team leads the pool in skater games played and is 6th in goalie minutes played. Healthy teams win money.
Speaking of healthy teams, it hasn't been a great second segment for Allan, which has been outlined a little already, as his team has suffered through some injury problems and his replacements to his injuries haven't been great.
Allan finished the week with three players on the news list and only 10 points on the board. That was a very poor week, which saw him drop down from 3rd place to 7th, but his team still only sits 2 points out of 4th, which isn't too bad.
Allan only had points from eight players, as Ryan O'Reilly and Corey Perry each finished with 2 points each and that just won't cut it in Week Thirteen.
More to the healthy teams perspective... Allan finished the first segment, which he won, 2nd in skater games played with 276, but now he sits in the pool average at 173 games, 13 games behind the pool leader in the segment, Stacey C.. This isn't a coincidence.
NEWS AND NOTES
Likely the biggest news on the weekend was the injury situation dropped upon the Boston Bruins' blueline, as both Dennis Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara, in order of severity, most to least, were out of the line-up against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Seidenberg has now been deemed out for the rest of the season with a serious knee injury, where he will require surgery to repair both his ACL and MCL. This is a pretty significant blow, with three weeks remaining until the new players from the second Waiver Draft goes active.
Chara, on the other hand, was not in the line-up, for an undisclosed reason, but there is no indication that his absence was serious. Either a minor injury or a bout of the flu, but neither was confirmed on Saturday night.
Seidenberg leaves a gap on Stacey M.'s blueline, while Chara was missing from Tony's line-up on Saturday night.
No real surprise to see Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival hitting the news page again, as he was a healthy scratch on Saturday night. Rozsival has been a consistent scratch this season for Chicago, one of the top pool players on the list, in terms of scratches, this season. In 22 appearances this year, Rozsival only has 4 points.
The veteran defenseman is certainly considered to be one of the big disappointments on Ryan V.'s team this season.
The New York Islanders had an unfamiliar sight on Saturday, as John Tavares was a scratch from the game, dealing with a lower-body injury. Tavares was closing in on 250 straight games played for the Islanders, a very respectable ironmman streak, but it all came to an end with the absence on the weekend. The injury wasn't a major concern, as Tavares did return on Sunday night, when the team played the Minnesota Wild, where he got on the board with a point.
Tavares belongs to Wyllie in the draft this year, who had an okay Week Thirteen, trying to keep pace with the teams around him. It likely would have been a bit better, if Tavares had played on Saturday though.
A couple of injury notes from the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, as forward Jason Spezza and defenseman Chris Phillips were held out of the line-up against the Boston Bruins with various injuries. Spezza's injury was undisclosed, but it is suspected to be lower-body, possibly his back. Phillips, on the other hand, suffered a foot injury in the first game of the home-and-home series with the Bruins and he is considered to be day-to-day with the injury.
Spezza belongs to Stuart's team, which has continued to suffer in Week Thirteen, while Phillips belongs to a team in the money race, Brenda's 14.
What's a good injury/news section without a whole lot of speculation. Saturday night, the St. Louis Blues were without forward Derek Roy and since there was no official word as to why the veteran forward was out, the speculation in the reports said that he was likely out with the flu. The speculation wasn't necessarily confirmed on Sunday night, but Roy did return to play against the Dallas Stars, so it may have been pretty close to the truth.
So it was a one-game hiccup for Doug in the pool, who finds his team back in the basement after Week Thirteen. His team now leads the conversation for Steven Stamkos in the second Waiver Draft.
The Colorado Avalanche, who have been mired in a mid-season slump, suffered a injury concern, as forward PA Parenteau left Sunday night's game against the Winnipeg Jets with an apparent knee injury, something that will be looked at on Monday. Optimism doesn't appear to be the flavour of the day here, as he was unable to put any weight on his leg, as he went off, so a sprain may end up being a best-case scenario here.
One of the teams in the close money race, belonging to Scott G., has Parenteau as a key member of his forward ranks. Parenteau has 24 points in 38 games, so an injury of any long-term severity could be a real challenge for his team.
More injury concerns for the St. Louis Blues, as David Backes returns to the blog, as he left Saturday's game with an upper-body injury and was unable to play on Sunday against the Stars. The nature of the injury is still undisclosed and I haven't seen any more information about it, so it is unclear how long he'll be out now.
Backes is another strong player on Dale C.'s team this year, having 30 points in 35 games, so the loss of this body could hurt them badly.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
It's that time again! Time for some outdoor action.
The 2014 Winter Classic, coming to you live from the Big House in Ann Arbour, Michigan, broadcast by Hockey Night In Canada, here up North. The Detroit Red Wings will be playing host to the Toronto Maple Leafs in an Original Six match-up.
Going into the match-up, the draft has a combined 22 picks between all 24 teams competing for prizes this year. As of Sunday morning, 20 of those picks are on active duty, seven Red Wings and 13 Maple Leafs, as Jimmy Howard (questionable for the Winter Classic, knee) and Johan Franzen (out for the Winter Classic, concussion) are on the Injured Reserve. As we all know by now, the draft teams have taken both Maple Leafs goalies, so it will be interesting to see who gets the start, between Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer.
The leading scorer, going into Week Fourteen, between the two teams is Phil Kessel, who finished the week with 37 points (20 goals & 17 assists) in 41 games played.
Out of the 24 teams in the pool, only 13 teams are expected to have healthy players playing in this game. Chris has Franzen, who isn't expected to play and if he did, it would make 14 teams. Still, barely half of the pool has any money interest in this game this year.
Well, hopefully the participation is a little bit better for Saturday.
I guess it would have been too much to ask to have someone other than the Maple Leafs to be in the early game on Saturday, since they already had a prime spot in the Winter Classic in Week Fourteen. Nevertheless, they play host to the New York Rangers in another battle from the Original Six era, while in the late game, it will be the Vancouver Canucks, on the road in Los Angeles, taking on the Kings in a heated Pacific Division rivalry battle.
The number of picks in the pool doesn't really improve among these four teams, as only 47 players represent these four teams in the pool this weekend. Out of these 47 players, six players on Sunday morning are on the Injured Reserve and only one are likely to come off before Saturday, Marc Staal of the Rangers.
Leading the pack of these four teams, in terms of pool scoring, is the injured goaltender, Roberto Luongo of the Canucks. Luongo has 38 points this year, ranked 24th on Sunday morning, but he is eligible to come off the Injured Reserve by the time they reach Los Angeles, but the Canucks will likely be cautious in bringing him back from a suspected groin injury.
21 of 24 teams in the pool have at least one active player playing on Saturday evening, which makes for an entertaining evening for (almost) everyone.