Happy New Year! Well, everyone seems to have their feet wet in the NHL through the first five days of the season and now we're just about to embark on our first full week, thanks to a holiday Monday. It's Thanksgiving in Canada this weekend, but more importantly, it's Columbus Day down in the US, so that means we'll have some matinee hockey to get our second week started. Boy, those Bruins sure love their afternoon hockey, don't they?
Hold Your Horses
Usually, I would have a whole load of news and notes from the week, showing how well teams are doing in accordance to the prizing. Well, I haven't announced the prizes yet, so I guess I can't really do any news to it quite yet. I am hoping to get the prize post up this afternoon, so we should at least have something more to talk about on the Week Two Newsletter in a week's time.
There is a little bit of a change coming this season and I hope it is for the best... or at least make for some good talking points when we get together for beers during the year.
What An Opening Week!
I do also like to tab the scoring statistics from the week, just for shits and giggles. I think it draws a good comparison to our picking skills through the year and maybe outlines a little bit of our luck.
The opening week saw 34 NHL games played, which is exactly the same number we saw last season, both starting on a Wednesday and going forward. This season, we have one less team in the draft, so that should mean less points, right? Wrong. Our 23-team pool finished the week with 447 points in total, up from 437 points the season before, collecting only a few less skater games and a bucket less minutes in goal. I think that's worth some applause right there, as we have drummed up a pretty competitive little pool, squeezing out a good number of points to start the year.
If you feel that your team didn't squeeze out enough points in the week, I already have a link set up to the best available players that were not taken in the draft, which you can get from the standings page. The first Waiver Draft of the regular season isn't for another seven weeks, but that doesn't mean you can't dream about who you want right now.
Well, we can't start the new week without going over last week, so here we go! Enjoy...
I think going into Week One, you may have said that the Minnesota Wild had one of the tougher assignments to start the season, playing a home and home series with the Colorado Avalanche. Well, thanks to our Player of the Week, goaltender Darcy Kuemper, it really didn't look all that difficult in the end, as they blanked the Avs in both games, 5-0 at home on Thursday and 3-0 in Denver on Saturday.
Kuemper had a little bit of a late start to his season, as he was an unsigned restricted free agent for a portion of training camp, but when Josh Harding went down with his non-hockey related injury, the Wild threw it into panic mode, invited Ilya Bryzgalov back to camp and quickly got a deal done with Kuemper. Brygalov would later be released from camp and the Wild would then go with Kuemper and Niklas Backstrom as their duo.
I didn't project Kuemper to have the number one job in Minnesota, but it looks like he has earned it and picking up a couple of shutout wins to start the year is pretty big, especially in the pool. That's a solid 8 points and it has helped Stacey M. run with the leaders of the pack in Week One.
Stacey picked Kuemper in the 11th round, 245th overall and has immediately received a bargain out of the selection. If Kuemper indeed wins the the number one job in Minnesota, it would be a huge coup for Stacey in the pool, getting a starting goalie that late, especially in a year where goaltending was at a premium early on.
Well, if you didn't see this from earlier in the week, here is the Week One Curse, which Kristy & Don will have to work against this year, taking the first Mover & Shaker of the season from. The week was only four days long, so it won't be out to set any records, by any means, but we all now have to chase the pool's duo and their 27 points.
Okay, well to be fair, there was a tie for 1st place, but Kristy & Don did have all the right answers, when it came to tie-breakers and it's way better to just hand this award off to one team, rather than two.
Kristy & Don's team nearly scored at a point-per-game, between both her skaters and her goalies, picking up 27 points in 29 appearances, even though they had four players without points in the week. Their goalies, Pekka Rinne and Fredrik Andersen went 3-0-0 in the week, so that helped a great deal. Their top player in the week was Montreal's Tomas Plekanec, who had 5 points, while Carolina's Jiri Tlusty had 4 points, while Keith Yandle in Arizona had 3 helpers.
Now that they have cast themselves out to the lead, where will they finish the year? Can they possibly go wire-to-wire or something along those lines? They have a lot of firepower on their side, it would seem difficult to count them out of the race at the end of the year, but we're only five days into the season, so who is really to say?
Back in 2008 and 2009, the NHL season started in Europe, which somewhat skewed the Week One stats for the Week One curse, so both Ryan and Grant, those years did finish last after being tied for last after Week One. Since then, being the Basement Dweller in Week One has not guaranteed being shut out of the money, which could be a relief for Ryan, who finished the opening week with only 6 points.
Ryan now has six months to try and make up the 21-point deficit that he has between his team and 1st place, which was amassed in only five days, so the task shouldn't seem so daunting as of yet. Ryan's team just hasn't hit their collective stride yet and when it does, look out! Right?
Ryan only saw points from his forwards to start the season, as Kyle Turris led the way from Ottawa, scoring a goal and adding an assist, while four others each potted points.
With both Tyler Seguin and Bobby Ryan in tow, it should only be a matter of time before something happens for Ryan, but his goaltending is all kinds of risky, as John Gibson had a rough start in Anaheim and Anton Khudobin is playing for a horrible Carolina team, so we shall wait and see.
NEWS AND NOTES
It sounds like opening night was rough on St. Louis' Patrik Berglund, as he took a slash up high against the Rangers on Thursday night and that kept him out of Saturday's contest against the Flames. Berglund should be considered day-to-day for now, as there is no indication of any long-term injury at the moment. The Blues don't play again until Thursday, so there should be ample time to get him fixed up for that contest or we'll at least get a more detailed reason as to why he can't go.
Not the best news for Scott in the pool, as his team starts the year in 17th place, with a 17-point week. He's not out of it at all, but no one wants to be in the injury news this early in the year.
It sounds like a shoulder issue is keeping Norwegian forward Mats Zuccarello out of the Rangers line-up, as he missed out on Sunday night's game against the Leafs with an injury. There hasn't been much in the way for confirmation about the injury, nor any word on the severity of the injury, so it may be safe to say that he's day-to-day with an undisclosed injury at the moment. Rangers play the Islanders on Tuesday, so I'm sure we'll see more out of the team before then.
Wyllie had a rocket start to the year, ending up in that tie for the M&S Award of the week. Zuccarello was one of four players to fail in scoring in Week One for him, we'll see if he is too injured and repeat the feat.
When someone comes back into the line-up, it generally means that someone has to come out, but when Cody Franson returned to the Leafs' line-up on Sunday against the Rangers, it was quite the shock to see Jake Gardiner come out for him. Everyone was expecting rookie Stuart Percy to be the unlucky guy, but no, it was Gardiner. It sounds like the coaching staff did get together and make that decision, so this may put Gardiner on the hot seat again in Toronto.
Mike's team didn't get off to a bad start, but there were just a number of teams that did just a little bit better. He finished the week in 16th spot, but I'm sure he would appreciate it, if Gardiner found a new home in the NHL, just to get away from the circus in Leaf Land.
Word came down out of Winnipeg on Sunday that the lower-body injury that Evander Kane suffered last week will be more than a day-to-day issue for the winger, as they plan to next evaluate him in two weeks time. Kane suffered a knee injury in the opening game of the season, colliding with a teammate on the ice and he hasn't been able to dress since, missing out on two games already. The troubled winger is already on the hot seat in Winnipeg, rumoured to be some reasonable trade bait for the team, but he won't be any good in that way until he's healthy again.
Kane's injury didn't hinder Grant K.'s first week in the hockey pool, as he finished in 3rd place in the week. This is already the second injury to his team, as he also is missing Dan Boyle from the Rangers line-up, which will cost him six weeks. An unlucky start, body-wise, but his team is still scoring, so that's a good thing too.
An injury update from the weekend came on Monday morning, as the Flyers have now lost forward Vincent Lecavalier for the next couple weeks, due to a lower-body injury. In Saturday's game against Montreal, it sounds like Lecavalier had to leave the game after blocking a shot with his foot and he was unable to return. The test results have come back to the club and they now expect him to sit for a couple of weeks. Lecavalier was off to a good start to the year as well, scoring a goal and adding a pair of helpers in the first three games of the season.
Lecavalier was one of four preseason Waiver Draft picks for Allan, leading up to the season and now that he's hurt, somewhat continues the trend for our reigning champ. Allan still got off to a good start, finishing the opening week in 4th place, 3 points back of 1st, but the injury isn't good news.
Another injury development that we're looking at is one in Carolina, as we await word on Eric Staal and an upper-body injury that he suffered on the weekend. The Hurricanes have already suffered some huge blows to their line-up this season, losing Jordan Staal to a broken leg and Jeff Skinner to a concussion early on and the Hurricanes were not exactly tabbed to be a good team in 2015 regardless. There hasn't been any confirmation of a major injury yet, but Staal did not skate with the team on Monday and we'll pass on the word when we get it here.
The elder Staal brother belongs to another one of our newcomers, Troy, who didn't get off to a blinding start, only 16 points, but saw some strides out on the ice over the weekend. Hopefully, this injury doesn't linger and he can jump back into the mix of the hockey pool race before we can say, "boy, those Hurricanes stink" again.
Link to the Injury/News Page