Well, there is no change at the top of the table, as Kristy & Don still have a lead going into Week Four, so they have dibs on the big bobblehead trophy at the end of the year and our first segment trophy at the end of Week Nine. It's a 2-for-1 trophy paragraph to start the Newsletter. Grant, Wes, Cam and Dale B. all made strides on our leader and have now reeled the duo in a little bit for the new week, so that make things a little more interesting.
There's a new leader for the Olli Trophy, as Brenda & Seward, the pool's second duo, now operate the pool basement, thanks to a 19-point week in Week Three. They do have some company down at the bottom, as Brian, Mike and last week's leader, Benson, are all 3 points away. This race can change on a weekly basis, given the right circumstances.
Finally, the Jordan Trophy also has a new leader, as Grant K. only mustered 25 games played by his skaters, which brings him to a pool-low, 82 games played in total for his skaters. The pool average is only 90 games, so no one has really fallen too far out of the running here. All it takes is a couple injuries and someone else could be in the mix.
The injury status of a few key defensemen in the hockey pool is somewhat troubling early on this season, as players like Zdeno Chara and Victor Hedman are on the shelf for the next 5-to-6 weeks with key injuries, while Dan Boyle and Ryan Murray have been on the mend for a couple weeks already from big injuries. Let's also not forget the unforeseen suspension to Slava Voynov, which has him suspended indefinitely, but hopefully that could come to an end before too long.
Five defensemen doesn't exactly make for an epidemic, but it's still a pretty rough start to the regular season on the pool blueline. With the emphasis put on defensemen at the draft this year, this is something I might keep an eye on.
Thankfully, scoring was back up in Week Three. The pool had one less game in the end this week, thanks to the incident in Ottawa, but the pool was still able to manage 525 points, 13 points more than Week Two. The pool averaged more than 12 points per NHL game played, which is good news. If the scoring trend can continue to go up, we will have a great windfall in Week Four, as we're looking at a 49-game week.
Injuries were on the rise in Week Three, as we didn't quite average the same amount of skater games played, but only marginally. Goalie minutes were slightly up, so that was good. Sounds like more players are getting healthy, so hopefully everything is on the up and up!
The wealth of scoring may not have been spread out as much as we may have liked, as there was a pretty good tie to break for the Player of the Week nod in Week Three. We had six players finish with 6 points a piece, three of them being goaltenders, so with the first tie-breaker being goals scored, we move straight to the skaters.
Thanks to the goal-scoring tie-breaker, San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture was the clear winner of the Player of the Week award, thanks to 3 goals and 3 assists in four games in the week. It wasn't the most impressive scoring rate, but the tie-breakers don't take into account games played until after goals.
Couture opened the week with a couple of goals in Boston on Tuesday, had a goal and an assist against Columbus on Thursday, was shutout by the Sabres on Saturday and had a pair of assists against the Ducks on Sunday.
This brings Couture's totals up to 10 points in 10 games this season, which currently has him ranked 23rd overall in pool scoring, making him worthy of a 1st round pick in this draft, to date. Of course, that will change before too long, but he is off to quite the pace this year.
A positive for Ryan in the pool this past week, who struggled near the bottom in the first couple weeks, as he has slowly started gaining on the top half of the pack, now sitting in 17th place, heading into Week Four. This is Ryan's third Player of the Week nod since the 2012 season, where he had his first.
Welcome to the club of Mover & Shakers, Cam.
Pool newcomer, Cam, finished atop of the weekly standings in Week Three, but sadly for him, that only really gets him a pat on the back, because there are no trophies for this award. A mention in the Newsletter should be enough, right?
Cam's team finished with 29 points in Week Three, which bumped him up from 8th place at the end of Week Two to 4th place now. His team now sits 3 points out of the money, trailing Wes, who sits in 3rd place, only marginally, so there is still room to climb in the pool in the coming weeks. His team is still 14 points behind our pool leaders, but as we saw last year, those gaps are remarkably easy to close.
Only three players on his team failed to register a point, including both his goalies, but did see some good weeks from Frans Nielsen of the Islanders (5 points), Ryan Getzlaf of the Ducks (4), Joe Pavelski of the Sharks (4) and three other players with 3 points each. It was a well spread out scoring attack this week, but of course, he could use some help from the crease to help him get into the money conversation.
In terms of positional scoring, Cam's team ranks in the top three teams in both forwards and defensemen scoring, ranking well-above average in both categories, while his goalies are well down below the average in scoring thus far. 4th place in the standings looks about right at the moment.
It's a week of firsts, I guess. Logan Couture hasn't featured as a Player of the Week, Cam had his first M&S and now Brian, another draft newcomer, is our Basement Dweller.
Brian's team only saw 16 points in Week Three, which has continued a decline in the standings, as he finished Week One in 14th, Week Two in 18th and now ranks 22nd. A 4-spot drop each week to start the season, not exactly the trend you want to be setting for yourself.
Out of 16 points, Tyler Johnson led his team with 5 points, nearly a third of his points in the week. Four of his skaters failed to register a point in the week and he has yet to see any points from his goaltending (Niklas Backstrom of the Wild and Anders Lindback of the Lightning) this season.
Brian has a pretty decent team on paper, they just need to get their butts in gear and he should be back in the mix before too long.
NEWS AND NOTES
Of course, as soon as I start talking about hurt defensemen at the beginning of the Newsletter, Ryan Murray of the Columbus Blue Jackets gets activated from the Injured Reserve, making his season debut against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday afternoon. Murray had finally recovered from his off-season knee surgery, enough so to start playing again for the Jackets, which should please many in the Columbus organization.
Obviously, that will also please Ryan in the pool, as he'll finally get a body back from the IR and that will add to his totals of projected games again for the coming week. His Week Four total looks like 40 projected games, coming from 17th spot in the standings.
Kings forward Anze Kopitar left Sunday night's game against those same Jackets with an upper-body injury, leaving just before the end of the 2nd period and not playing any of the 3rd. The Kings are hush-hush, as always, but they did mention that Kopitar will be on the team's road trip, which starts Tuesday night in Philadelphia. At this point, I would say that he is questionable for playing against the Flyers and day-to-day, if he doesn't.
First, moving into the pool basement and then losing your 2nd round pick, shouldn't sit well with Brenda & Seward. It's a rough start for the pool's second duo, as they really needed Kopitar to start hiking up his socks, as the rest of the pool moves away. We'll see before too long, just how bad this situation is.
There was an update provided on Valeri Nichushkin, who has been dealing with a groin problem in the last couple of weeks. He has started skating again with the club and could be moving closer to a return, although playing Tuesday night, at home to St. Louis, seems doubtful, at best. Nichushkin skated with the extras on Monday, but there will be a pregame skate on Tuesday, which will be a better indication.
Scott is looking forward to his young Russian's return, as his team could really use the skater games, ranking among the pool basement dwellers in the category. 15th place in the standings doesn't seem like a terrible situation, given how many games his team has seen.
The Winnipeg Jets coaching staff has said that forward Evander Kane isn't expected to play in any of the four games this week on the team's road trip, which begins tomorrow on Long Island and ends on Sunday, in Chicago, but there is footage of him skating with the team, so his return can't be too far away. What the team expects and what actually happens, may differ by the end of the week, especially if the Jets suffer badly on this trip.
Our Jordan Trophy leader, Grant K., is losing games rapidly to injury, and Kane returning would help him greatly. Grant is still in great shape, sitting in 10th spot, but if he had more healthy bodies, he could be right in the thick of the money mix.
The St. Louis Blues seem to be righting the ship a little bit in recent games, but they have received a bit of a boost, getting Paul Stastny back at practice on Monday morning. There is no official word on how far along he is with his shoulder injury, but he wasn't wearing a no-contact jersey, so that could possibly mean some good things.
Wes isn't dong bad without his 4th round pick, sitting in a money position after Week Three. Stastny was working a point-per-game through his first four games, so he'll be more than welcome to come back to the fold, sooner, rather than later.
After the Flames' skate on Monday morning, it was determined that forward Mason Raymond is now doubtful for Tuesday's game, hosting the Montreal Canadiens. Raymond suffered an upper-body injury against the Capitals on Saturday night and was unable to practice on Monday, making him doubtful for Tuesday. The Flames are expecting to have non-pool forward David Jones back in the line-up, who will take Raymond's place, if he cannot go.
Despite loading up on Flames, Leo still sits in good shape in the standings, finishing Week Three in 8th spot, 9 points out of the money. Raymond has been one of his better players, with 7 points in 10 games, so if his injury means a game or games lost, it could hurt a little.
Finally, some news out of Pittsburgh, as the Penguins announced that defenseman Olli Maatta will be undergoing surgery next week to remove a tumor that may or may not be cancerous. The tumor is on his thyroid and has an 85% chance of being cancerous, but the team doctors are confident that he will return to regular hockey in about four weeks, likely with no side effects. The tumor was found in the preseason testing, but it took a few weeks to get all the tests confirmed. Maatta is expected to play in Week Four, before going in for surgery, looking to improve on his 5 points in seven games to start the season, before hitting the shelf.
This is a bit of an unforeseen kick to our Mover & Shaker's team, as Cam has enjoyed some success with Maatta in his line-up. He will get one more week without him, before he goes off for a month. Is it too much to ask for a Player of the Week nod before going under the knife?
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