First Repeat Leader
Well, the duo of Kristy & Don have survived some injury trouble in Week Four to repeat as leaders from Week Three, but their lead has shrunk from 6 points to 1 point. Their team will face some difficulty with their number one goalie on the shelf for at least a month. Kristy & Don haven't had the most explosive team in their averages, but they have been making all their points by staying healthy, leading the pool in games collected (141) and 4th in goalie minutes played (1,133).
Rest of the Prize Positions
We had a bit of a shift in the rest of the prizing spots, thanks to some close races and bigger weeks than others. Out of the money went Grant and Clayton and in came Brenda and Allan, as Chris stayed in the conversation. Kristy & Don, Brenda, Chris and Allan round out the top four, all eclipsing the 100-point barrier in the week and Allan has a 6-point lead on both Grant and Clayton, who sit 5th and 6th, respectively.
The swings have been pretty good both ways and I anticipate some more movement in Week Five, so stay tuned!
Bottom of the Table
We might just call this spot the race for the first pick in the Waiver Draft. This has gotten a bit more interesting, as John S. is no longer in the basement, having a decent week and passing Stuart for 23rd in the standings and trailing Doug by 1 point for 22nd. With only 2 points separating 22nd to 24th, we may have some jockeying here, unless one of these teams can find some consistency in their line-up.
This group isn't too far out of the pack ahead of them, as Tony is only 5 points ahead of Doug, as he is the tail of another group of three teams. If any of these teams can string some good weeks together, they could work themselves out of the bottom before too long.
Trends in the Numbers
Something I touched on last week was basing all the numbers on a per NHL game played basis. This gives me an indication of what the pool is pulling on a weekly basis.
In Week Four, there were 45 NHL games scheduled, where we pulled 525 points (11.7 points per NHL game, up slightly from Week Three) from 753 skater games (16.7 per NHL game, down from Week Three) and 4,317 goalie minutes played (95.9 minutes per NHL game, well down from Week Three).
It was good to see scoring went up, despite pool participation in the scheduled NHL games, but with the injury list growing, it looks like these numbers will be slowly going down before they are going up.
Week Five has 44 NHL games scheduled, we'll be just skipping over 500 total points, if we continue this scoring pace. Will your team get more than their fair share?
The San Jose Sharks are just rolling right along to start the NHL season and there is no one capiralizing more on this than their number one goalie, Antti Niemi, who has been virtually unstoppable, in terms of pool points. In Week Four, it all came to a head, as the Finnish netminder took the title of Player of the Week, thanks to an 8-point week, which has lifted him up to the top of the scoring table, nearly a month into the season.
Niemi didn't have a perfect week for this Player of the Week honour, but he impressed mightily regardless. In Week Four, Niemi finished with a 2-1-0 record and both of his wins in the week were shutouts. 2 wins and 2 shutouts were good enough for 8 points.
On Monday, Niemi started out the week with a 24-save shutout over the Red Wings, Thursday saw him lose his first game, 2-1, to the Bruins and on Saturday, he made 22 saves in a shutout over the Canadiens.
With the big week, Niemi now totals 24 points, 9 wins, 2 shutouts and 2 assists, which gives him a 6-point lead over Sidney Crosby in the pool scoring race through Week Four.
Leo M. has Niemi in the pool this year and is grateful for him. Leo currently sits in 10th place through the weekend and owes a lot to his goaltending for his position. Leo's keepers have counted for 36% of his total points, the highest percentage of points from his goalies in the pool. He needs all the help he can get, since his forwards have only counted for 47.2%, which is the lowest in the pool.
It was a return to the money positions for Brenda F., who has seen her team earn a second Mover & Shaker nod in the first four weeks of the season.
Brenda had dropped down to 7th place in the pool in Week Three, but her team made a dramatic recovery, picking up 36 points in Week Four and climbed all the way up to 2nd place. It goes to show you that one good week can make up a lot of ground in the pool. With how thin the pool has spread with 24 teams, I think we should see a lot of this sort of movement all year long.
Brenda can credit her big week to Frans Nielsen, who led her team from Long Island with 7 points, followed by Alex Ovechkin & James Van Riemsdyk, who each had 5 points and Valtteri Filppula & Justin Williams each had 3 points.
Brenda's team won't be able to go wire-to-wire in pool points this season, but her team has led the pool in goals scored since Week One, as her team has 44 tallies already this year. Three teams are currently tied for 2nd in the column with 36 goals a piece, so that's a solid 8-goal lead through four weeks. That's a pretty good stat and one that could lift her back to the top of the standings before too long.
Even with scoring going up a touch in Week Four, there were still three teams that struggled to pick up points, creating a 3-way tie for the Basement Dweller position. Benson, Ryan M. and Doug were all in there with 11 points, but we had to go to the tie-breaker, which is, as always, goals scored in the week.
And going from Shaker to Dweller... is Benson! Benson had 3 goals in the week, which wasn't the worst in the pool, but it was among the three teams with 11 points. Benson went from being Mover & Shaker and up to 8th place to the Basement Dweller and back down to 18th place. I may have to come up with a new award for bi-polar teams like this.
Nine of Benson's 14 players failed to register a point in Week Four and his best player, Sidney Crosby, who has back-to-back Player of the Week nods this year already, only picked up 1 point.
NEWS AND NOTES
The Anaheim Ducks have sent veteran forward Saku Koivu home from their road trip after the Finnish winger was popped by Brandon Dubinsky in the game against the Blue Jackets on Sunday. There were reports that Koivu was knocked unconscious after the hit and he did look visibly rattled, as he needed help leaving the ice, so the safe money is on a concussion. We will await further word on this from the team, which will likely come in the next couple days.
This doesn't sound like good news for Cindy S., as her team sits in 16th place, but only 9 points out of the top 10.
The Edmonton Oilers are taking some cautious measures with their number one goalie, Devan Dubnyk, who was reporting some ankle discomfort after their game on Saturday afternoon. Dubnyk was given Sunday off, as the team took on the Kings, calling up Richard Bachman to take the start. There was no indication as to how serious the ankle injury was and as it was reported, it did sound minor, so we should expect to see Dubnyk back in the net before too long.
Stacey C could use those goalie points, as he is right in the mix, sitting in 8th after Week Four, only 11 points out of the prizing.
Sounds like a bout of the flu was what kept Florida Panthers forward Tomas Fleischmann out of the line-up on Sunday evening against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Fleischmann leads all Panthers in pool points this year with 9 in 11 games played and the team dropped a 4-3 shootout decision to their State rivals to finish up the week. The Panthers don't go again until late in the week, so we're expecting Fleischmann to be back and 100% then.
When the race is still in the early stages, these single games missed seem like such a big deal. For Dale B., who sits in 14th after Week Four, he is still firmly in the race and the one game shouldn't end up being a big deal.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have wiggled their way into a little bit more cap space, as they have found some room to call up defenseman John-Michael Liles, as they head out West for a road trip. Liles, who was a victim of the lowered cap ceiling this season, has been in the minors since the end of training camp, but was playing some good hockey in the preseason. There was no indication as to where he'd fit immediately, but he will be with the team as they travel, which is a good start.
Liles is the only donut left on Brenda's pool team, as she sits in 2nd place, 1 point out of 1st. Getting a body back will be a huge help, I'm sure.
The Vancouver Canucks offered some injury updates before Monday's game against the Washington Capitals and they are as follows: Alex Burrows is set to return from his foot injury tonight, while Jannik Hansen is still going to be out for another 3-to-4 weeks with his upper-body injury and David Booth will miss the next couple weeks with his lower-body injury.
So... this is good news for Tony, really bad news for Grant and kinda bad news for Ryan V.. You can't have good news for everyone all the time, right?
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
This weekend, we'll have our first Hockey Night In Canada tripleheader, which means the CBC will be showcasing all kinds of our pool talent. Chicago will be in Winnipeg for an afternoon matinee, while the Canucks will have a rare early game, as they host the Leafs and finally, the Oilers will host the Red Wings in their only match-up in Edmonton this season. In total, these three games will represent 74 picks in the pool, but obviously, not all of them will be playing on Saturday.
Well, I'm going to save myself all kinds of trouble and go through the gist of it all, instead of going over it all. Out of the six teams playing, the leading scorer of the bunch is Henrik Sedin of the Canucks, who currently sits 4th in pool scoring with 16 points. Currently, Brenda leads all teams in the pool with eight active players through these six games, although Tony may have eight as well, if Alex Burrows can become healthy this week and be ready to go for the game against Toronto.