A New Segment, A Tie at the Top
Well, the start of Week Nine shows us that we currently have a two-horse race up at the top of the standings, but as we've seen already this season, leads can come and go and gaps can be closed, so let's all not give up hope just yet. Nevertheless, Allan currently has the lead, thanks to the first tie-breaker, goals scored, over Grant, who doesn't have much tie-breaking ability at the moment.
Both teams finished the week with 228 points, now 10 points up on 3rd place and 11 points up on 4th place. This is Allan's third week atop of the standings, but Grant being so close, gets credit for being atop the standings, since the tie-break scenario doesn't really kick in until the prizes are handed and this is his second time with the leading point total.
The Top Four Changes, One Team Falls Hard
Allan and Grant finished one-two after Week Eight, but they were followed by Kristy & Don and Brenda, who were three-four in the standings. Unfortunately, not having any goaltending support finally caught up to Kristy & Don, as their top two picks in the draft are off injured and not given any replacements at the Waiver Draft. The pool's duo fell from 3rd down to 8th place, now 8 points out of the prizing.
Brenda stayed still in the standings, remaining in 4th place, thanks to an average week, so 3rd place was up for grabs, taken swiftly by Chris, who had a good week, leap-frogging over Brenda into the last money place. The shift was hard, but I don't think the jockeying for position is anywhere close to being done.
The Race for Steven Stamkos
Well, the new segment brings us to a new feature player that will be raced for at the bottom of the standings. Steven Stamkos of the Lightning was dropped, due to his broken leg, which is scheduled to keep him out for the bulk (if not the whole) of the second segment, which was a tough shot to take for Allan S., at the top of the standings, but it isn't like he is suffering without his number one guy at the moment. Stamkos leads all available players with 23 points in 17 games and if he is close to returning for Week Seventeen, he'll be quite the prize.
Doug had a couple of good picks in the first Waiver Draft and he didn't make up enough in the first week to make a big difference, but the gap between himself to Leo in 23rd is only 12 points and the gap to Stuart in 22nd is 15 points. Once his players have a chance to get going, he should be able to close it all up quickly.
Scoring Trends, As Predicted
The pool nearly collected 600 points in Week Nine, 598 points to be exact, which is the new weekly high for the competition, but the scoring rate wasn't all that impressive. A rash of injuries on Monday & Tuesday didn't help the scoring much, but we did change enough players in the Waiver Draft to help collect a season-high in skater games played and goalie minutes played, thanks to a 51-game NHL schedule.
On average per NHL game in Week Nine, we collected 17.8 skater games (new high), 99.8 minutes (4th best week) and 11.7 (tied for 3rd best week). No, it wasn't a marvelous week, but it still made for a lot of points. I suppose we can also take into account that we had to drop some of our top end picks, something we couldn't exactly make up for, so there is that as well.
I am mildly conflicted by back-to-back Player of the Week nods or any other weekly honour nod, really... it just doesn't look quite as fun when we're not spreading the love around, don't you think? Well, it is back-to-back nods for Evgeni Malkin, who is the hottest player in the NHL at the moment and I think everyone is finally taking note that he still plays in the league too.
Last week, Malkin started up a 4-game point streak with his 8-point week and that just carried on from last week to this, as he pushed just as hard, finished with 9 points in Week Nine and with points in each of the four games that he played in during the week, his point streak has extended to eight games.
On Monday, he started modestly with just an assist against the Bruins, followed up with a 3-point (2 goals and 1 assist) game against the Leafs on Wednesday. Friday, he kept the streak going with just another assist against the Lightning, but Saturday, he finished his week off with 1 goal and 3 assists against the Panthers.
I read a tweet today that said that Malkin's 21-assist month of November was the best helper month since the days of the Great One. That's a fairly hot month.
The 9-point week has also lifted Malkin up from 14th in pool scoring to finishing 3rd. A huge week and lifting himself into pool MVP territory.
If it wasn't for Malkin, Stuart G. would be up Shit Creek without the proverbial paddle, but with the streaking Russian, Stuart only finished the week in 22nd and only had 19 points in total. Yes, Malkin accounted for nearly half of Stuart's points in the week.
NEW STAT ALERT... Malkin is one of three players in the pool this year that accounts for 20% or more of a team's total points. Malkin, as of Sunday night, has accounted for 21% of Stuart's total points this season. The other two players in the same boat are Antti Niemi (22% for Leo) and Jaroslav Halak (21.1% for Doug). All three teams are mired down in the bottom of the pool, while at the top of the pool, Allan has Corey Perry and Semyon Varlamov, who each account for 12.7% of his points, while Grant has Alex Steen leading his team at only 13.6%.
It was a really good week for Dale C., who finally got everything to come together for a week that I'm sure he was looking forward to when he had picked his team. Dale finished the week with 38 points, moving up from 11th place in Week Eight, to 6th place after Week Nine. Dale now sits 6 points out of 4th place and made up 10 points on Brenda in the week, so anything is possible now.
Dale had a good week from James Neal, who led all of his players with 7 points, followed closely by Cory Schneider with 6 points, Daniel Alfredsson with 5 and Jussi Jokinen & Corey Crawford with 4 each. His team only had three active donuts on his side and his two Waiver Draft picks gave him 4 more points, which he wouldn't have picked up in the week, thanks to injury and scratches.
Starting the second segment, Dale got off to an early lead in scoring from both his forwards (25 points) and his goaltending (10 points), which was a huge help to his cause. He had some above average numbers in skater games played in the week, 40 games played, and minutes played, with 247. In the first segment, Dale had below-average numbers from his skater games, while his goaltending was above-average. His Waiver Draft picks helped his skaters, for sure, and he'll see some definite improvements there.
Week Ten shouldn't be too much different for Dale, as he has 46 projected games to be played by his team, as they are healthy going into the week.
It really is a tale of two Dales in the pool in Week Nine, as Dale B., went in the opposite direction of Dale C. after the Waiver Draft.
Thanks to some inconsistent play and one injury on the board on his team, Dale B. only managed to pick up 13 points in Week Nine, which saw him drop in the standings, falling from 6th place to 10th place. Dale was only 14 points out of the lead after Week Eight, but after Week Nine, he now stands 30 points out. A harsh fall, but one that still could be made up with a strong recovery, but it will be hard.
Dale had seven donuts on his side in the week and his team only had one bright spot, Logan Couture of the Sharks, who had 4 points.
He has 44 projected games to play in the week, thanks to the one injury, Curtis Glencross, not ready to come back yet. His goaltending might be able to make up the difference, as they had an off week, which could be the biggest reason why he fell so hard.
NEWS AND NOTES
There is some mild speculation of some shady dealings with the Dallas Stars these days, with a cloud of suspicion around the health of forward Tyler Seguin. Seguin missed Sunday night's tilt against the Edmonton Oilers, with what the team is saying is concussion-like symptoms, which they are saying was sustained in Friday's game against the Blackhawks. Seguin had been missing some practices in the week and his play had dropped off a little, which has everyone scratching their heads thinking that something isn't quite right with this situation. It is difficult to throw out blame on the team in some cases, as the player may not be as forthcoming as the team may want.
The diagnosis of the concussion symptoms will likely keep Seguin out of the line-up for at least a week, but we'll see if the team comes out with a better explanation in the coming days.
I suppose, if you were Devan Dubnyk, the push that you received from the arrival of Ilya Bryzgalov was enough to elevate your play, but Bryzgalov was starting to get the lion's share of the minutes upon his activation, which likely didn't sit well with a surging Dubnyk. Well, on Sunday, Bryzgalov did start against the Stars, but had to leave in the 2nd period after being struck up high by Stars forward Ryan Garbutt in a collision. Bryzgalov was forced to leave the game for Dubnyk, who subsequently won it in the shootout. No word on Bryzgalov's injury after the game, but we're keeping an eye on the situation.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
An all-Canadian Hockey Night on Saturday, as they'll feature to the two provincial battles in the NHL, both Ontario and Alberta. It will be a night where we're not only hoping for a ton of scoring for our hockey pool teams, but we're all hoping for fireworks to keep the game at its most interesting.
The total number of picks under the umbrella of these four teams in the pool is 51, which is a nice, high number. Each team has both of their current goaltenders picked, although with Sunday's injury to Ilya Bryzgalov, we may not have all six appearing, but we'll wait and see. Speaking of injuries, there are four Flames and one Leafs player on the shelf, all of them likely out for Saturday, which takes our number down again. No current players under this umbrella are in the minors, but you never know what can happen in the week.
Defenseman Erik Karlsson is the best player in the pool from these four teams, leading the bunch with 27 points through 27 games, followed by teammate Bobby Ryan, who has 25 points.