Monday, December 11, 2017
It's Monday, Week Eleven... time to get back to the goalie survivor pool, now that all four surviving teams have been reset to zero wins in the week.
Grant, Jeremy, Wilton and Mike are our remaining teams and it's going to be a busy week, if you didn't already see that in the Newsletter this morning. We've got 51 games on the NHL schedule in Week Eleven and each team will have ample opportunity to get their win.
Grant, having both Washington goalies, has only four possible games to get that win, while the other three teams have upwards of six chances, which should be enough, you'd think.
Let's see how Monday figures to roll out. Six games on the docket and only two have the possibility of a survival start.
Braden Holtby (Grant) versus Jaroslav Halak (Benson)
The Washington Capitals were the first team to earn a survivor win last week and there's a chance that they could do it again this week, with an early start on Monday against the New York Islanders. The Capitals will play on back-to-back nights, so it will be up to the coaching staff to decide how they want to split the games, but between the Islanders tonight and the Avalanche tomorrow, it would make sense that Braden Holtby gets the start tonight. The Islanders have seemingly given Jaroslav Halak the majority of the starts of late, so it would seem very likely that he gets the nod to play spoiler.
Kari Lehtonen (Mike) versus Ondrej Pavelec (N/A)
The Dallas Stars are scheduling a start for Mike's keeper, Kari Lehtonen, as they head through the state of New York this week. This could be the first of a couple starts for the Finnish netminder, as it appears to be a busy 4-game set this week. At the other end, the Rangers are going to give a rare start to their backup, with a healthy starter on the bench, as Ondrej Pavelec confirmed he was getting the nod early on in the day. Battle of the backups on Broadway... who knew?!?
The Anaheim Ducks appear to be on their way to getting healthy again, as they have activated both forward Ryan Getzlaf and defenseman Hampus Lindholm from the Injured Reserve on Monday, shuffling their deck on the active roster to do so, sending some players down or adding depth players to the IR. Getzlaf confirmed on Monday after the morning skate, that he is going to be in the lineup after missing several weeks with facial fracture, while Lindholm may not be inserted back into the lineup right away, coming off of an upper-body injury of his own.
The return of Getzlaf is going to be welcome news for Eric's team, but it could be too little, too late, as his team sits 24th and 73 points out of the money. Way too much for just Getzlaf to rectify on his own. Lindholm, on the other hand, was injured on the opening of Week Ten, as he was activated from the Waiver Draft on Clayton's team. If he's back sometime this week, that isn't a bad price to pay for a pretty good offensive defender.
The Winnipeg Jets have also activated goaltender Steve Mason from his concussion on Monday and he'll serve as Connor Hellebuyck's backup for tonight's game against the Canucks. Mason has been out for the last few weeks with the concussion, but with Hellebuyck playing the way he has been this season, Mason's playing time will be limited to the number two role, at best, for now.
Troy's 18th place team does get a slight boost from this activation, Mason won't be sitting like a bump on a log any longer. Troy's team is 40 points back of the money at this point and if the Jets somehow slide down to starting Mason more regularly in the next few weeks, there's a chance that Troy's team could possibly work its way back up, but a couple more things may need to happen in conjunction with that to work.
The Vancouver Canucks announced that forward Sven Baertschi will now be out of the lineup for the next 4-to-6 weeks with a broken jaw, saying that he won't need surgery for any repairs, it'll just be the wait-and-heal process for him moving forward. Baertschi was hurt in the game against Calgary on Saturday night and leaves a sizeable hole in the lineup, where he had 8 goals and 18 points in the first 30 games this season.
Also capping off the injury-filled weekend, the Winnipeg Jets said that defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will be out on a week-to-week basis with the lower-body injury that he suffered. There were some reports suggesting that the Jets don't expect him back in their lineup until after Christmas. Byfuglien, too, was hurt on Saturday against the Lightning and also leaves a gap on the Winnipeg blueline, having 15 assists in 28 games.
So, for Wes, this has not bee a great start to Week Eleven, as that eliminates seven skater games that could be played from this week alone and a couple of big holes for possibly the next month. Wes' team opens up the week in 22nd place, 14 points clear of 23rd and 42 points clear of 25th. It seems quite unlikely that his team will be moving up in the standings, since this is his 3rd-best forward and 2nd-best defenseman on the shelf.
The Waiver Draft has come and gone and teams haven't quite cried about when the next one is coming, but after a rough week for some on the injury report, it probably isn't too far away. This was the week where we try to make up some ground on the teams that were at the top of the standings, try to close the gap and make it a little bit more competitive for the rest of the year, so it will be interesting to see how that all played out.
There was a pretty good competition for the Player of the Week nod, as a good number of players were at 6 points or more through the week, but it was going to take a double-digit sort of week to win it all and that's what St. Louis Blues goalie, Jake Allen, did in Week Ten, as he put up 10 points to take it all for himself.
Thanks to an injury to his regular backup, Carter Hutton, Allen was forced into some extra duty, as the Blues continue to fend off teams from their spot, atop of the Central Division and in the fight for top spot in the Western Conference. Allen played in four games this week, beating Montreal on Tuesday, shutting out Dallas on Thursday, beating Detroit on Saturday and then on back-to-back nights, getting the best of Buffalo in overtime on Sunday. A 4-0-0 record with a shutout will give us all 10 points.
The big week in Week Ten gave the St. Louis Blues number one goalie 37 points in 26 appearances this season, good enough for 11th overall in pool scoring, which is 4th among all goalies this season. This is pretty news for Cam, who took the Blues netminder with the 19th overall selection in the draft, which means he's getting a bit more than his projected value from the draft.
Heading into the weekend, it was a pretty good race for the Mover & Shaker nod, but Derek B. absolutely ran away with it, as soon as the work week had concluded and he topped out at 35 points, bumping his team back up into the top 10, where he had seen his team fall out of the week before. This is Derek's third time earning the Mover & Shaker spot, as he has earned one in each season he has participated in now and this is both the highest point total of all of his honours and the highest position he finished a week in with the Mover & Shaker, 9th place. Things must be looking up!
It was a good week from Derek's Blue Jackets, as both Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky each finished with 6 points a piece in the week, leading the way. His other Columbus player, defenseman Seth Jones, also didn't do too badly, finishing with 2 points.
Other notable players on his team include Steven Stamkos of the Lightning, who had 5 points and Wayne Simmonds of the Flyers, who had 4 points. The only player not to register a point on his team this week was the virus-stricken Jonathan Drouin in Montreal, who did end up playing one game in the week, but obviously it went for naught.
Derek's team has remained fairly healthy, which has allowed for them to continue posting a good number of points. His team ranks 5th in skater games played, while Bobrovsky keeps his goalie minutes afloat at 15th in the pool as well. His forwards and goaltending are keeping him in the hunt, with his team ranking 7th in forward points and 8th among keepers, but his defensemen still lack that extra bit of punch.
At the Waiver Draft, he did make a pair of moves, both coming in handy this week, as Tristan Jarry earned him a win in Pittsburgh and Kris Russell did pick up an assist as well.
Derek's peak position in the standings at Newsletter time is 5th place, where his team currently stands 11 points back of, but if his team can jump back into that spot, it's only a few more points into the money.
The Basement Dweller nod needed to be decided by a tiebreaker once again in Week Ten, definitely not the predicament you want to have your team after the Waiver Draft, when you were supposed to be improving your team the week before. Still, both Brian and Eric found themselves with only 15 points in Week Ten, so we had to go to the goal scoring records in the week. By a margin of 7-5, Eric kept his team clear of the nod and Brian's team finds itself bunking in the dark for a week.
The last time a Basement Dweller team finished in a money position spot, we have to go all the way back to the 2014 season, where Chris M. finished with 14 points and dropped down to 3rd place in Week Fourteen that year. Brian's team, in very similar fashion, had 15 points and dropped from 1st place to 3rd place, letting go of a 10-point lead in the process.
Brian's team is just riddled with injuries, which is the main reason for the significant drop in the standings and his risky maneuvers at the Waiver Draft were no big help either. Mika Zibanejad and Ryan Johansen are both on the Injured Reserve, on the fence about coming back here soon, while Jaden Schwartz, his top forward, is now out for the next six weeks and on top of it all, he took a gamble on Zach Parise in Minnesota, which has yet to start paying off as well.
Needless to say, Brian's team was dead last in skater games played in the week, with only 27 appearances, and out of three starts from his goaltending, he only collected 2 points.
Brian's team will need quite the bounce back week, if he can get some of his injured guys back in the race.
So, assuming that Brian's team can stay afloat in Week Eleven, his team isn't in bad shape to make up for that hiccup. His team starts Week Eleven only 3 points back of Wilton, who shot up the standings with a great week of his own and he's only 2 points back of Jeremy, who has remained in the money spots all season long.
Teams are nipping at Brian's heels though, as Dale B. is only 1 point back, Stuart is 3 points back, Kristy & Don are 5 points back and Benson is 7 points back. If Brian's team can't find a way to get healthy, the sudden stop at the end of this fall could be in a devastating position.
Now that we're down to only four teams, it shouldn't come as a big surprise that all of the teams will have qualified before too long in the week. Week Ten saw all four teams, Grant, Jeremy, Wilton and Mike have their wins sorted out by Wednesday.
The All-Star break might be the next time we really have some drama in this mini-game, barring any severe cold streaks by any of the teams still involved in this mini-game.
It was another brutal week in the plus/minus department, as the entire pool was a -34 rating, as a whole. No one seemed to want to be responsible in their own end, it would seem. Now, Brian's team may have not put up the points, but it also didn't skate around very much and be on the ice when their opposition scored, so he remains atop of the mini-game standings with a +43 rating.
Dale C.'s team kept the pace, only sitting a point back in the ratings, while Steve's team lost a point, but still remains fairly close in a very topsy-turvy kind of race.
Four teams in the pool all finished -10 or worse and Dale B. and Chris S. both have now posted back-to-back weeks of -10 or worse. Yikes!
Voting for the All-Star Game captains will end on January 1st, which is still a few weeks away, so you have some time to help guide some of your pool teams to at least have one player on an All-Star team roster. Every Wednesday, the league announces each leader for the divisions, in terms of votes, and there are no surprises here at the moment. Connor McDavid (Steve) leads the way, followed by Steven Stamkos (Derek B.), Alex Ovechkin (Benson) and P.K. Subban (Tony). These guys would be your early leaders in the mini-game competition, as they have the players already in pencil to be there and you would have to imagine that they will be, regardless.
Wes continues to have a firm grip on the PIM pool through Week Ten, still carrying a 34-minute lead over Brenda & Seward.
Neil's team was the biggest bunch of goons to start the second segment, finishing with 39 minutes and jumping up to 3rd place, but Cam wasn't too far behind, thanks to his Bruins, finishing with 38 minutes in the week.
Cam added one and dropped one, Chris picked up two, Clayton dropped one, Dale B. dropped one, Wilton picked up a goalie, Eric dropped a goalie, Grant added a defenseman, Ryan picked a forward, Stacey M. added a forward, Steve divested of both of his rookies and Troy added one. That was the rookie landscape changing during the Waiver Draft and it was all activated on Monday.
There wasn't much change to the overall race though, as Clayton's team still leads Cam's by 5 points, but Chris' team was the best set of rookies in the week with 5 points from Monday to Sunday.
We're only days away from the first outdoor game of the season, as the NHL 100 Classic will go in Ottawa this coming weekend and we might have ourselves a little bit of a preview of that this weekend, as if it was like a mini-game that we were playing. Just to keep things fresh around here. We all want to know how we would have done, if we had horses in these races. Stay tuned!
As we should have expected with the Waiver Draft concluding, participation was up in Week Ten, as we saw some record numbers in the skater games played department, averaging 18.3 skater games per NHL game on the schedule. Unfortunately, that was the only remarkable change in the week, as scoring only increased marginally, no record-setting pace, and our point totals only ranked 3rd out of the 10 weeks played.
The schedule ramps back up to 51 games in Week Eleven and if the pool can keep the pace, we could possibly see some record numbers jump up at us.
NEWS AND NOTES
After a collision with teammate Morgan Rielly on Saturday night in Pittsburgh, forward Auston Matthews was unable to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night, due to an upper-body injury. The collision seemed to have left the dynamic scoring forward a little dazed, which has many fearing that the upper-body that was suffered could be a concussion, but the team has yet to confirm any details of it yet. Matthews is currently considered to be day-to-day, but anything can happen or change here in the next day or two.
For Benson, this is of great concern to his pool team, which is currently in the thick of the money race, not to mention numerous side bets with his forwards.
Sunday, December 10, 2017
There's no lack of intrigue in Week Ten, as the standings have been shuffled many times, especially at the top, all week long. We've finally come to Sunday, where there are four games left on the schedule and still some movement left to be had, I'm sure.
Three out of the four games are holding on to some kind of story line at the top of the standings, which should keep the interest level up on the day.
Robin Lehner (Kristy & Don) versus Jake Allen (Cam)
The St. Louis Blues might be ripe for the picking on Sunday evening, as they are on back-to-back nights, suffered a couple of significant injuries and they are going to run Jake Allen for both games, even though Saturday's was an early afternoon game. Kristy & Don will see their goalie, Robin Lehner, get the start tonight, as they are trying to chase down a money spot again these days, starting the night only 4 points out of 3rd place.
Scott Wedgewood (N/A) versus Corey Crawford (Jeremy)
Indications early on in the day were suggesting that Jeremy would get one last start this week, as Corey Crawford was absent from the morning skate for the Blackhawks, which could help to close the 2-point gap on Brian's 1st place team and with the Arizona Coyotes in town, it seems very likely that it can be 2 points on the board. Don't count those Coyotes out completely yet, they have put up some wins against some heavily favoured opponents already this year.
Alex Stalock (N/A) versus Martin Jones (Chris)
It was thought that Martin Jones was going to get the start last night for the Sharks, but it was pretty early, when the post had to come out and there was no indication that Aaron Dell would have the start ahead of that game, but there it was. So, Chris will get the second night of back-to-backs, with Jones starting against the Wild. Chris holds the 10th place spot in the standings, now 15 points out of the money and could use a win to help close that gap.
The St. Louis Blues have been dealt a serious blow to their regular season on Saturday, as forward Jaden Schwartz blocked a shot off of his foot/ankle in the 1st period against the Detroit Red Wings and was forced from the game, not to return. On Sunday morning, it was announced that the injury is indeed significant and that his lower-body injury would not be reassessed for another six weeks.
The Blues, who are in a good battle for top spot in the Western Conference, have been very offensively gifted in the early part of this season and a lot of that stems from the top line, where Schwartz has been great. In 30 games played this season, the 25-year old has 14 goals and 35 points, which has been good enough for 14th overall in pool scoring. He has also been very productive in the plus/minus among the league leaders at a +23 rating through Saturday night.
We're now not expecting to see Schwartz in the lineup until the New Year, closer to the middle of January, which is a tough pill to swallow. Ivan Barbashev has been called up from the AHL to take his spot, who has already seen six games this season, but had no points before his demotion.
After Saturday night, it's a wonder that Brian's team is still holding onto 1st place in the pool, because his team has been decimated by injury and he's risked a fair bit on taking on another injured player, ahead of his possible return. Schwartz's injury is now added to Ryan Johansen in Nashville, Mika Zibanejad in New York, both on the IR, while he now waits for Zach Parise to return for the Wild.
Brian's team should finish the week in the money, but with only one projected game on Sunday to his rival's five games each for Jeremy and Wilton, it seems unlikely that his 1-point and 2-point leads are going to hold out for another day.
The Columbus Blue Jackets coaching staff has not been too happy with the recent play of forward Cam Atkinson, so they showed their displeasure with him by sending him up to the press box to be a healthy scratch against the Arizona Coyotes. In 25 games this season, Atkinson only has 6 goals and 9 points, way off of his projected pace and you can understand the coaching staff's displeasure. The Jackets were able to sneak out a win against the lowly Coyotes, 1-0, but you would have to think that Atkinson will get reinserted into the lineup soon.
Steve's team hasn't seen an immediate bounce back since the Waiver Draft, having picked up 19 points this week, through Saturday night's action, which was his average in the first nine weeks of the season. The lack of production from Atkinson and his successive scratch hasn't helped his cause.
The St. Louis Blues may have drubbed the Detroit Red Wings, 6-1, on Saturday afternoon, but it was a costly afternoon, as they had suffered a couple of key injuries, due to shot-blocking. Both forward Jaden Schwartz, who we'll touch on in another post, and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, blocked shots and had to leave the game in the 1st period. Pietrangelo was able to return and finish the game, but the Blues are going to be playing back-to-back nights and Pietrangelo is going to take this night off, according to the coaching staff.
Jeremy's 3rd place team is the one that suffered the loss of the defender and a productive one, at that. Jeremy's team sits only 2 points down on 1st place and only 1 point up on 4th, so there isn't very much wiggle room, losing out on this man-game tonight. He'll hope that it isn't any worse than that.
It's been a tough stretch of weeks for the Vancouver Canucks, as their depth is being exposed as being very thin, now losing scoring forward Sven Baertschi to an upper-body injury on Saturday night. Baertschi was hit in the face by a clearing attempt in the 2nd period against the Flames and didn't return, his status moving forward is still up in the air. The Canucks play again on Monday night in Winnipeg, so I believe we'll hear more about his situation in the next 24 hours.
This was actually the second of two injuries suffered to Wes' team on the night, Baertschi's happening in the late games on Hockey Night in Canada. The week outside of the first Waiver Draft is not when you want to have these injuries hit, but Wes already has three names on the injured list after Saturday.
The rotation of Vegas blueline continued on Saturday night, as defenseman Shea Theodore has come out yet again, a healthy scratch against the Dallas Stars, and it was an okay move, as the Golden Knights were able to pull out another win on the road on Saturday night. Theodore was thought to be a huge steal at the expansion draft, but he hasn't quite figured in as prominently as many would have thought he would. Theodore only has 1 goal and 5 points in 14 games this season, after a late start, thanks to his flexible contract through the waiver wire.
From the back end, his production hasn't been too bad, but his placement in the roster has been very questionable this season. Kristy & Don remained patient with him through the Waiver Draft, as they may not have found anyone better to replace him with. They remain in the money mix through Week Ten, sitting 6th and only 6 points behind 1st, so they can live with his current production for now.
Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien had an early finish to his night on Saturday, as he suffered a lower-body injury against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but details on the injury were not provided after the game. The Jets are turning around to play the Canucks on Monday, so we should be expecting an update fairly soon on his condition.
This was Wes' first injury on the night and its a significant one, as it takes out one of his key defensemen out of the lineup, if he indeed misses the game on Monday. Byfuglien has 15 assists in 28 games and been one of the few bright spots on Wes' 22nd place team.
Saturday, December 09, 2017
Friday night was a pretty crazy night in the standings, as there was a 4-way tie for top spot in the standings at one point, of course that was ironed out through the last couple games of the night, to where we have separation in those top four spots again, but they have been shuffled a bit more.
The top 10 teams are now separated by 18 points, top to bottom, and we'll focus on those teams in this goalie post today.
An early afternoon game has the blog shuffling its projections a little earlier today, so we're going to be throwing some best guesses out again, no matter how poorly they do in the evening.
Jaroslav Halak (Benson) versus Tuukka Rask (Clayton)
It's a top 10 team match-up in Boston tonight, as the Islanders are into the TD Garden to take on the Bruins. Jaroslav Halak is getting the call for the Islanders and for Benson's 6th place team, while Clayton's 8th place team, 9 points back of Benson's, will get Tuukka Rask in the home net. Both teams are also vying for the Mover & Shaker this week, which is also turning out to be a tight race in Week Ten.
Keith Kinkaid (Stuart) versus Ondrej Pavelec (N/A)
With the Devils playing last night in Columbus, they will be going to their backup for the Rangers match-up tonight, playing a team that was also on the road on Friday, playing in Washington. Stuart's 7th place team is getting their first start from a Waiver Draft pickup in Keith Kinkaid, while Ondrej Pavelec went unclaimed in the player swap last week. Stuart's team opens up the night 5 points out of the money and has a reasonable shot at points in a battle of the backup goalies.
Connor Hellebuyck (Neil) versus Andrei Vasilevskiy (Wilton)
It has been a great week for Wilton, as his team leads the weekly scoring with 24 points, through Friday's action, and has taken the overall lead in the standings by a single point. Andrei Vasilevskiy is thought to be giving him yet another start tonight with the Winnipeg Jets in town, hoping to extend that lead a little bit further. At the other end, Connor Hellebuyck is expected for the Jets against a tough Bolts side, giving Neil yet another start this season.
Ben Bishop (Kristy & Don) versus Maxime Lagace (N/A)
It's too early to tell for sure, but one could safely assume that the Dallas Stars, who didn't play last night, will go back to their number one, while the Golden Knights did play last night in Nashville and will go to their number two for their return home. Kristy & Don, the current 4th place team, sit 4 points back of the lead and will get a start from Ben Bishop, making this game notable in this post.
Craig Anderson (Tony) versus Martin Jones (Chris)
Chris' team holds down the 10th place spot, the last of the notable teams this morning, and he should be getting a pair of starts, starting with Martin Jones and the Sharks in one of the late games in San Jose. The Senators' goaltending situation has been a little more fluid of late, but a reasonable guess would be seeing Craig Anderson back in the net for Tony's team, a start that Tony needs badly, to help him stay out of the Basement Dweller nod this week.
Scott Darling (Clayton) versus Jonathan Quick (Chris)
Finally, it's a pair of second starts in Los Angeles, as both Clayton and Chris should be getting these nods in another one of the late games in Los Angeles tonight. Clayton and Chris are only separated by 2 points heading into action today, as they are not only racing each other up the standings, they are trying to close the gap on the money. Scott Darling and the Hurricanes against Jonathan Quick and the Kings... the home side has to be the favourite, as they're running hot, but the visitors are unpredictable on any given night.