Monday, January 12, 2015

Week Fourteen Newsletter

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On the NHL calendar, we've crossed the halfway point of the year and added a day or two on top of it.  It is a 27-week season, from a Monday-to-Sunday format, so the end of Week Fourteen seems about right here.

Things to consider, it took Kristy & Don this long to get the lead that they have, so teams in last place still theoretically have a shot at 1st place, but now the window begins to close, some a lot faster than others.  The gap between 1st and 23rd place is sitting at 153 points and in order to pass Kristy & Don, either Allan or Wyllie will have to make up 12 points per week to win the pool.  At what point does that seem out of reach (or has it already)?

We do have another Waiver Draft to come, could that possibly make a difference?  Let's see how bad it is for everyone else at the moment.

It was a fairly straight-forward tie-breaking process for this week's Player of the Week determination, as St. Louis' David Backes was up against Colorado's Semyon Varlamov, both having 8 points in the week.  Backes did more than enough goal-scoring at the beginning of the week to earn the tie-breaker and therefore get the title for Week Fourteen.

Yes, it was 5 goals and 3 assists for Backes in the week and he was the only skater to pick up 8 points in the week.  The 30-year old captain of the St. Louis Blues opened the week with a 4-goal effort against the Coyotes on Tuesday, followed that up with a goal and an assist against the Sharks on Thursday and then added a couple of assists on Saturday against the Hurricanes.

The American power forward has been one of those hockey pool anomalies, as he seems to be the kind of player that should be able to pick up a great deal of points in the year, but the system in place in St. Louis is quite restrictive to his talent levels and so, scoring at a 0.66 points-per-game rate seems to be about where he's going to hover and that's where he is this season.  In 41 games, Backes has 14 goals and 13 assists, good enough for 98th overall in pool scoring.

He is proving to be somewhat of a bargain pick for Grant S., who did select him with the 125th overall pick, down in the 6th round.  Sure, he's only one round better, by our draft standards, but that still a pretty good return.  Definitely one of the reasons why Grant is up in 2nd place and we're not.

Historically in the pool, this is Backes' 1st appearance in the Player of the Week nods and Grant S.'s 3rd nod in the last three seasons.

PhotobucketMoving and shaking back into a money spot is a good reason to be on the Newsletter, as Clayton moved back into 3rd place, finishing a week in the money for the second time this season.  Clayton had a 36-point week and jumped three spots from 6th place after Week Thirteen for his new spot.

Only two of his active players failed to finish with points in Week Fourteen, while Brian Elliott returned from injury in St. Louis this week and led his team with 6 points.  Jaden Schwartz also returned from injury in St. Louis this week and finished just behind, with 5 points, and Chicago's Brad Richards also had a 5-point week to help the cause.  Jonathan Huberdeau had a good week in Western Canada, picking up 5 points of his own as well.

Anyone who sits in 3rd place is going to need a bunch of Mover & Shaker nods now until the end of the season, because even with Clayton's nod this week, he only made up 9 points on Grant S. and the gap between 2nd and 3rd place is still 35 points.  It's still manageable, but it is a sizeable gap, indeed.

Statistically, Clayton's team is pretty spot on in the back end, ranking 2nd in defenseman points and 3rd in goalie points this season, but is 19th in forward points, where the biggest difference happens between his team and 2nd place.  If Clayton's team was at least average in forwards scoring, the gap wouldn't be 35 points, it would be 10 points.

PhotobucketWell, in essence this week, the Mover & Shaker and Basement Dweller switched spots, thanks to their fortunes in Week Fourteen.  Tony was sitting in 3rd place after Week Thirteen, but fell down to 6th place after a 12-point week.  The gap between his team and 3rd place is now 16 points, which goes to show how close this race still is and there are a number of teams on Tony's heels, which means his team can't stay in this slump for too long or else his game of leap frog up the standings will be a lot longer and harder.

The best player on Tony's team was forward/defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, who converted back to the blueline by default of injuries and is still listed as a forward, had 3 points in the week for Tony's team.  Remarkably, I think his season has turned around since reverting back to the blueline, as he wasn't doing so hot up front.

Nevertheless, Tony's team had seven active players with no points in the week and now injuries are starting to catch up to his side.  Today, he has three players on the Injured Reserve and there are no signs of them coming off any time soon, especially since one just got there yesterday.

This doesn't mean that his team isn't good enough to stick around up top, as they just had a slightly off week and there's still a chance that they can all turn this one around.  We'll just have to wait and see what they have in store for us.

TROPHY TALK

Is Kristy & Don still in 1st place?  Yes.  By how much?  40 points, down 1 point from last week.  Is Grant S. still in 2nd place?  Yes.  By how much?  35 points, the same as last week.  Who sits in 3rd this week?  Clayton, but we found that out already.  By how much?  Only 3 points, Wes still sits in 4th place.  Okay, then.

Do Kristy & Don still lead the second segment race as well?  Yes.  They have a 7-point lead now over Brenda & Seward and an 18-point lead on Wes, who now sits in 3rd place in the race.  There are only four more weeks to go in that race, so something has to happen, but nothing likely will.

Wyllie has now had back-to-back weeks in the lead for the Olli, but the last three teams in the standings are bunched up quite nicely, as Allan is only 1 point better and Ryan is only 3 points better and either team could have a week to put them in the bottom.  Allan is the more likely to sit at the bottom, as his injury situation is dire.

Finally, the race for the Jordan is still pretty good as well.  Benson is seeing his team claw their way back to the rest of the pack or at least the rest of the bottom dwellers in the category.  His team has been running at an above-average pace for a while and his team has now closed the gap on Allan, it is now down to 12 games, making up eight games on him in Week Fourteen.  Dale C. is only 16 games ahead of Benson and is still having some below-average weeks, so he'll stay in the race as well.

WINNING EVERY WEEK

Going into Saturday night, Grant S. had a couple of shots to stay alive, with two projected games left for his goalies, the Canucks versus the Flames and the Kings hosting the Jets.  Well, Ryan Miller didn't get the start for Vancouver, so he was out of luck there and the Kings couldn't put away a streaking Jets team, losing 6-5 in the shootout and preventing Jonathan Quick from a win in the week.

So, that's it for Grant and we're now down to two teams: Kristy & Don and Brenda & Seward.  The four goalies in question... Pekka Rinne and Frederik Andersen against Henrik Lundqvist and Ben Scrivens.

ROOKIE SCORING

Wilton still holds the lead in the rookie category, thanks to a point from Johnny Gaudreau in the week, but Mike made up a point, thanks to a win from Jake Allen.  Grant S. is still hanging around with Aaron Ekblad, making up a couple points there as well.  It's definitely a three-horse race for now, but with no monetary incentive to improve in this category, it will be interesting to see if any of these teams look to improve their standing here at the second Waiver Draft.

LIGHTING THE LAMP

Scoring just 3 goals in the week would theoretically seem easy for a hockey pool team, right?  Well, only 10 teams have stayed consistent at it and it was awfully close to only being nine teams, as Stacey C. needed a goal on Sunday night, which he got from Marian Hossa of the Blackhawks, to stay alive in this race.  Although, with this many teams still in the race, halfway through the year, it may be bumped up to 4 goals, maybe separating some teams from the race.

ROUND 12 IN THE DRAFT

Pick # Round Pool Player NHL Pos Points
254 12 Scott Gilmore Derick Brassard NYR F 33
272 12 Troy Berkley Ryan Strome NYI F 30
274 12 Grant Kanwischer Tyler Toffoli LOS F 27
275 12 Cam Wagner Antoine Vermette ARI F 27
268 12 Kristy & Don Tomas Plekanec MTL F 26
260 12 Mike Somerville Justin Williams LOS F 23
271 12 Ryan Miller Reilly Smith BOS F 21
276 12 Stuart Greenley Nino Niederreiter MIN F 20
255 12 Dale Corley Alex Killorn TAM F 18
273 12 Brian Towers David Legwand OTT F 16
259 12 Benson Greenley Marc-Edouard Vlasic SAN D 14
262 12 Stacey McDonald Andrew Shaw CHI F 12
256 12 Derek Wilton Dustin Brown LOS F 10
257 12 Brenda Farrell Travis Hamonic NYI D 9
261 12 Wes Moroz Matt Read PHI F 8
263 12 Grant Saskiw Nick Holden COL D 8
264 12 Stacey Campbell John-Michael Liles CAR D 6
270 12 Derek Wyllie Jason Chimera WAS F 6
265 12 Dale Bradley Kevin Bieksa VAN D 4
267 12 Tony Dourado Jonas Gustavsson DET G 4
266 12 Leo Macht Olli Jokinen NAS F 1
258 12 Allan Scott Sergei Gonchar MTL D 0
269 12 Clayton Corley Teuvo Teravainen CHI F 0

Lots of players dropped in Week Nine from the 12th round of the draft, as you can see by the players in red.  There are still three players active in the pool, which could have been dropped earlier in the year, that have less points than the best player dropped in the round, Dustin Brown of the Kings.  Remarkably, Brown could have been picked up by a number of teams in the pool, but wasn't and has had 6 points since the Waiver Draft, more than many of the forwards taken after he was dropped.

As for the money teams, Kristy & Don are doing okay with their 12th round pick, Tomas Plekanec, Grant S. still has his, Nick Holden, and Clayton dropped his, Teuvo Teravainen.

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING

It wasn't a great week for points, as you may have gathered.  Only two teams finished above the 30-point plateau in the week, so that should give you a solid indication about how many points were available.  The NHL only had 44 games on its schedule in Week Fourteen, something we knew going into the week, but the players didn't make the most of it, as they geared down and only picked up 11.1 points per NHL game, down 1.3 points form the week before, which does turn out to be quite a bit.

Injuries did seem to catch up with the pool again, as there were a number of new players added to the list, more so than taken off, I believe and goalies didn't quite pick up the same amount of minutes for us as they did the week before either.

Hopefully Week Fifteen is a good week, as it is the last full week before the All-Star Game shortened week and maybe everyone needs a little bit of momentum to get their goal scoring skills in motion.  The NHL will have a 49-game week, where we'll hope for about 575 points in total to be collected... that would be a great week!

NEWS AND NOTES

Not much for the News and Notes portion of the Newsletter this week, as it was a quiet Sunday. On Monday morning, however, Tyler Seguin was sent home from Stars practice, due to illness. The Stars have been another team that has been stricken with a flu bug and it has claimed a few non-pool players so far, but now Seguin has been afflicted and we'll wait and see how he feels for Tuesday night, when the Stars host the Senators.

Not quite the way Ryan wanted to start the week, as his team must be feeling jealous of the other two basement dwelling teams.  Seguin is his 1st round pick and rightfully so, so a game missed here would be a big deal this week.

Somewhat in the same boat as Seguin above, Jaromir Jagr of the Devils was also held out of practice on the weekend, thanks to a bug that's going around the dressing room in New Jersey. On the plus side for Jagr, the Devils don't play in Los Angeles until Wednesday, so they will likely stay home and keep from flying for another day yet. Jagr is listed as probable for Wednesday, assuming that the illness isn't too serious.

Cam, who sits in 5th place on Monday morning, has seen some good numbers from Jagr this year and needs those numbers to keep rolling in, as his team is only 7 points back of the money and has seen a day or two in 3rd place this season, but hasn't managed to stick there after a Sunday night.

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