Well, look who is back in a big way. It was a desperately slow start for Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar this season, as he came into the week with only 13 points in 28 games, but exploded for a 9-point week, nearly doubling his output for the year, in the three games in Week Eleven. Kopitar was the clear winner of the Player of the Week nod and for good reason.
The Kings, as a whole, went 2-1-0 in the week, but Kopitar did manage to pick up at least a point in each game. On Tuesday, it was an assist in a 5-2 loss to the Blues, Thursday was his big day, a goal and 4 assists in the second half of the home-and-home against St. Louis, winning 6-4, and then on Saturday, another 3 assists in a 4-2 win over Arizona.
This brings Kopitar's numbers up to 22 points in 31 games this season for the Kings, which still isn't where some of us would have had him projected, pace-wise, but with another couple big games, he may be able to find his way back to where he should be.
At the end of the week, the Slovenian olympian finished 98th overall in pool scoring, still well down from the draft position, 27th overall in the 2nd round, by Brenda & Seward. Kopitar will still need another 9 quick points to be where his draft position would suggest him being at.
This nod for Brenda & Seward makes for back-to-back Player of the Weeks, which leads more into the next section, more than anything.
Of course, having the Player of the Week certainly helps your team's chances at heading up the Mover & Shaker on the Newsletter and it certainly did for Brenda & Seward, who also took full advantage of the Waiver Draft, a couple of weeks ago as well.
At the Waiver Draft, the pool's second duo had the 2nd overall pick, meaning they started Week Nine in 22nd place. Thanks a couple of decent weeks and now one great week, they have already shot up the standings, finishing Week Eleven in 15th spot. Without a doubt, they have taken the moving and the shaking to heart in the last few weeks.
It was a solid 32-point effort in Week Eleven for Brenda & Seward, which was led by Kopitar, of course, but followed by Henrik Lundqvist, who had 5 points. Maple Leafs forwards Joffrey Lupul and James Van Riemsdyk each kicked in with 3 points each, while five other players had a couple of points each. Three players finished with donuts in their active lineup, which goes to show you how much scoring they were able to spread out in the week.
With finishing the week in 15th, the duo become the lowest team to come away with the Mover & Shaker, but I don't think that really does them any justice, as they have been the quickest team up the ladder over the last couple of weeks, especially with two Player of the Week nods already. How high can they possibly go?
Ask anyone in this pool... I don't think anyone would believe it to be wise to base your team on the current and past roster of the Calgary Flames. Well, that was what Leo had done and the current lineup of the Flames and Leo's side are running similar courses through the season and I don't think that is by coincidence.
Leo's team got off to a pretty good start, hanging in the top 10 for a couple of weeks early on, but slowly, the team started to fade away and since both of his goaltenders are also current Calgary players, they've stopped winning and now the drop is on.
In Week Eleven, Leo's team finished with only 14 points and 1 goal, taking the Basement Dweller on the tie-breaker against Dale B., who managed 4 goals, dropping his side down to 19th place in the pool, being 14th back in Week Nine. It's a pretty tough tailspin to pull out of.
If you're looking for a positive, one of his non-Flames alums did do well for him this week, as Brent Seabrook picked up 5 points in Chicago, but that's where the good news kind of stops.
It was kind of nice not talking about any of the money teams in the first few sections of the Newsletter, it was quite refreshing. Of course, there is an entire section devoted to the money teams and the trophies, but that's okay too.
The top three didn't change any in the week, finishing the same way as it did at the end of Week Ten. Kristy & Don's lead at the top grew slightly to 26 points over Grant S., who dropped 7 points to Tony, who is still sitting in 3rd place. Stacey M. jumped up to 4th place in the week, while Dale C. and Clayton each dropped back a bit, but stayed somewhat close. We're still going to have a race for 3rd place, it would seem.
It should come as no surprise that Brenda & Seward now hold the lead in the second segment, now up to 66 points through the first two weeks of the year, 9 points up on Kristy & Don and 10 points up on Wilton, who is quietly doing well to start the middle frame.
For the Olli, Benson continues to dominate the race, opening up a 19-point difference between himself and 22nd place. He has had absolutely no luck at all and only picked up 18 points in Week Eleven.
Benson also has a firm grip on the Jordan, only bettering a couple of teams in the games played department by one, so he really isn't making up much ground there either. Wyllie is the closest to him right now, 24 games away and Wyllie has had players playing.
What a poor week we just had! Week Eleven stunk, which meant that there were not quite as many points to be had.
The NHL schedule had two more games in Week Eleven than it did in Week Ten, but the pool collected less points. This past week, the pool, as a whole, didn't collect 500 or more points, which meant that we were collecting less than 10.5 points per game.
Average numbers of skater games and goalie minutes were down, as injuries started to escalate a little bit and there were a number of backup goalie starts that no one had picked up in the Waiver Draft, namely Cam Talbot of the Rangers or Antti Raanta of the Blackhawks, each picking up shutouts on Sunday.
Thanks to the Christmas week, the NHL schedule will drop down to 32 games and I think there will be another drop off in scoring, as teams possibly rest a couple of weary bodies and some players also start thinking about going home to their families for the week. Although, I don't really have a basis for that argument, especially looking at the numbers from last year, as scoring did go up in the Christmas week... maybe the goaltenders are the players to blame, as they think about going home to their families, more than keeping pucks out of their net.
An interesting statistic that I keep track of inadvertently and remains somewhat interesting is the number of players that take to the ice for NHL action in a season. In the 2014 season, 982 players/goalies took to the ice for at least one appearance last season... not even to the halfway point of the 2015 season, we've already seen 838 players/goalies. With the number of injuries and illnesses already this season, I am curious to see if that number goes up this year.
WINNING EVERY WEEK
And then there were five in the survivor pool (which I'd like to remind everyone, doesn't pay anything). Scott failed to pick up a win from either Ben Bishop (injury) or Alex Stalock (backup), which means he's out of the race.
Allan had 2 wins last week, Brenda & Seward had 2 wins, Clayton had 3 wins, Grant S. had 3 wins, as did Kristy & Don, which gives us our five teams still in. None of which struggled to make it out of the week without a win, which means this could be a strong finish to the season here.
NEWS AND NOTES
One note that was missed on Sunday's large post was Nashville forward James Neal, missing out on the game against the Wild with an illness. The Predators were quick to dispel any ideas that Neal may have been dealing with the mumps, which is important these days. He is listed as day-to-day and questionable for Monday night's game against the Blue Jackets.
Grant S. has had quite a bit of good luck this season and if Neal has avoided the mumps, I would count that into the good luck column.
An undisclosed upper-body injury kept Chicago forward Brad Richards out of the line-up on Sunday, as his team took on Toronto to finish off the week. The team is saying that Richards is day-to-day for now and they won't play again until Tuesday, so we'll likely find out more around then.
It wasn't a very good week for Clayton, who saw quite a few of his players hit the injury page in the week. His spot in the money race is counting on healthy bodies.
Link to the Injury/News Page