Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Well, I've got some good news and some ghoulish news.
The good news is that four teams that were up for survival last night, saw their wins come to fruition and their qualification for Week Six has been given. Benson, Wilton, Cam and Chris were all winners on Monday night and they are free to roam free, earning points towards the big prize at the end of the year.
The ghoulish news is the state of the goaltending for tonigh'ts game. The Vegas Golden Knights are now onto their fourth starting goalie this season and the Arizona Coyotes have one pool goalie on the IR and the other in the doghouse.
Only three games on the schedule for Halloween night and none of them have any survivor pool implications with the starting goalies, so we'll go over them quickly, just for shits and giggles.
Maxime Lagace (N/A) versus Henrik Lundqvist (Brian)
The Rangers will get to face the fourth Golden Knights starting goalie this season, which isn't necessarily a slam dunk, given their track record with the other three goalies. Henrik Lundqvist will be tested against a hard working Golden Knights team, making him earn those 2 points for Brian's team tonight.
Scott Wedgewood (N/A) versus Jimmy Howard (Dale C.)
This was the only game of the three that had any potential of being a survival game tonight, but the Red Wings have opted for Jimmy Howard on Dale C.'s eliminated team, instead of Petr Mrazek, who sits on Mike's team, which still needs its win this week. The Coyotes are running with Scott Wedgewood on back-to-back nights, his first two starts for the Coyotes since being acquired from the Devils this weekend. He earned the team's first win of the season last night, so off he goes again.
Connor Hellebuyck (Neil) versus Alex Stalock (N/A)
In the third game, the trend continued with only one pool starter going in this one as well. Connor Hellebuyck continues as the Jets number one goalie, getting the start in Minnesota, who are giving backup Alex Stalock a rare run. Neil is the only one capitalizing on goalie minutes in this game, as his team is climbing up the standings early on this week, jumping from 17th to 13th after a solid Monday night.
The Arizona Coyotes were finally able to win a game last night in Philadelphia, but it did come at a cost. Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson suffered an upper-body injury in the win and failed to return to the game. There were no immediate details on the injury or how long the team expects the veteran blueliner to be out of action.
Despite the injury, Stacey M.'s team was one of three teams in the pool to hit double digits on Monday night and her team shot up the standings, from 12th to 8th, and her team is only 10 points out of the money.
Despite the injury, Stacey M.'s team was one of three teams in the pool to hit double digits on Monday night and her team shot up the standings, from 12th to 8th, and her team is only 10 points out of the money.
Monday, October 30, 2017
Well, this post is relevant for two reasons... Mark Streit still belongs to Benson's hockey pool team for another month or so and he is also been on two money winning hockey pool teams in the past and that's a measure of success here on the blog site.
Yes, on Monday, it was made official that the long time Swiss defenseman filed his retirement papers, opting not to play one more season back in Europe and rather, hang them up for good.
Streit, a 12-year NHL veteran, started his career with the Canadiens and ended up signing with Montreal before this season started, but it was a relationship that didn't make it out of the first month of the season, when the Canadiens opted to go with a younger blueline in the end.
Streit was a good NHL defenseman in his career, especially for us poolies, as he finished with 434 points in 786 games played between Montreal, Long Island, Philadelphia and a short stint in Pittsburgh. He was a part of two 2nd place hockey pool teams, Stuart's team in 2012 and Scott G.'s team in 2014.
And then there were ten!
Looking at the week ahead, it looks like Grant might have the toughest time surviving, as the Capitals only play twice this week and they haven't been very good in the last couple of weeks. He won't be seeing any starts until Thursday, but at least it will be a home start against the Islanders.
Nevertheless, it will be a solid week, one which every team certainly has the chance to qualify for Week Six. Other than Grant with two games, everyone else has the possibility of five or more starts, which should be more than enough chances to get the job done.
Oscar Dansk (N/A) versus Jaroslav Halak (Benson)
Benson's goaltending tandem has the lowest amount of minutes played among all the surviving teams, as it ranks 21st in the category. He'll get a key start tonight in Brooklyn, with Jaroslav Halak getting the nod against the red-hot Golden Knights, who will continue with their third goalie this season, Oscar Dansk. One would have though that this would have been a slam dunk game before the season started, but the Golden Knights are a force to be reckoned with, no matter which goalie is in net.
Al Montoya (N/A) versus Craig Anderson (Tony)
Tony, one of the favourites for the mini-game prize, gets his first start of the week in Ottawa as the Senators start Craig Anderson, with the struggling Canadiens in town. The Canadiens are offering up their backup Al Montoya tonight, giving their number one, Carey Price, the night off. Maybe the divisional match-up will light a fire under the Canadiens, who have really struggled this season, so you got to know that the Senators are licking their chops tonight.
Andrei Vasilevskiy (Wilton) versus James Reimer (Troy)
Another Battle of Florida goes tonight in Sunrise and Wilton will get his first survival start of the week, when Andrei Vasilevskiy goes for the Bolts tonight. The Panthers should be offering up some solid competition, especially at home, as James Reimer becomes accustomed to the number one role, with Roberto Luongo still on the shelf.
Jonathan Quick (Chris) versus Jake Allen (Cam)
It should be a survival match-up in St. Louis tonight, with Chris getting his first start tonight from the visiting Kings, while Cam gets his only start tonight from the hosts, the Blues. Quick versus Allen, it makes for a pretty good match-up on paper, as these two teams are playing some pretty good hockey at the moment and the win could end up on either side of the ledger by the end of the night.
Frederik Andersen (Mike) versus Martin Jones (Chris)
If the Kings can't get the job done, Chris will still have another start going in San Jose, in what turns out to be another survival match-up in the tank. The Maple Leafs will go with Mike's number one, Frederik Andersen, while the Sharks go back to Martin Jones for another key start. The Sharks have only been a .500 team to start the season and if they're going to want a spot in the playoffs this year, they have to start going through some tough teams, like the Leafs.
A surprise to a few news outlets, Anthony Duclair is expected to be a healthy scratch tonight for the winless Coyotes, despite having 3 goals and 5 points in the first 11 games. It isn't a great scoring total, by any means, but it is better than a good portion of the team, but obviously, there is something about Duclair's game that has singled him out for a trip up to the press box tonight in Philadelphia.
Wilton's team is right in the thick of the action these days, opening Week Five in 8th place, 11 points out of the money. It's going to be disappointing not having Duclair in the lineup tonight, but the rest of his team will have to make up for it.
After having both Jason Garrison and Griffin Reinhart clear waivers over the last few days, it has paved the way for Shea Theodore to finally make his Golden Knights debut this season, which appears to be coming tonight, when they visit Brooklyn and the Islanders. Even with the record, the way it is, the Golden Knights haven't been afraid to shift around bodies and this move was a long awaited one. Theodore, thought to be one of the team's brightest young players, was stuck in the minors, due to not having to pass through waivers to go down, but now that a pair of waiver-eligible players have made it through, it's Theodore's time to shine.
This is good news for Kristy & Don, who open the week with the 5th best team in the pool and they get a body back into their lineup. A definite plus. It now brings their projected tally up to 39 games for the week, right up there among the pool leaders.
Despite some late pushes by a couple of NHL teams over the weekend, the nod for the Week Four Player of the Week goes to Long Island's John Tavares, who finished with the outright lead of 7 points for the week, no tie-breaking necessary.
The Tavares impact was felt in two out of three games this week, as he posted a hat-trick and an assist on Tuesday night against the Coyotes, was shutout on Thursday by the Wild, but then got back on the horse with another hat-trick against the Predators. That's a 6-goal week for Tavares, a fairly impressive week, to say the least.
The 7-point week did lift Tavares' overall total to 13 points in 11 games, currently good enough for 15th overall in pool scoring, a definite bargain for Wilton in this year's draft, as he wasn't selected until the 2nd round, 34th overall.
This is the fifth time Tavares has hit the Player of the Week in the last seven years.
Going back in the history books, it has been a long while since Dale C. was atop the weekly scoring ranks... Week Nine in the 2014 season was the last time, to be exact. In fact, the last two times he has ended up in the Mover & Shaker position, the other time being back in Week Four of the 2011 season, his team finished in 6th place in the standings. Very strange.
Dale's team moved up from 14th to 6th with his 34-point week in Week Four, a solid jump up in the standings and now his team only sits 6 points to 2nd or 3rd or 9 points to 1st place, a gap that could be made up with another solid week.
It was a solid week all around, as they were led by four players, each finishing with 4 points a piece. That group was Evgenii Dadonov of the Panthers, Mike Hoffman of the Senators, Phil Kessel of the Penguins and Carey Price of the Canadiens. Three more players had 3 points a piece, while only two players on his team were shutout, one thanks to being injured.
Dale's team is fairly well-rounded, when you take all three positions into account. His team ranks 8th for forwards scoring, tied for 5th for defensemen scoring and tied for 10th for goalie points, so far this season, giving him his solid 6th place in the standings. His team has stayed relatively healthy, ranking 7th in skater games played and top for goalie minutes, so he's certainly getting the opportunities, his team will just have to cash in a little bit more to make it into the money.
It's a pretty harsh welcome into the hockey pool, when you're team falls into the Basement Dweller position early on and that just flushes your team to the bottom of the standings. Unfortunately for Scott B., his team has hit some pretty rough patches, thanks to injury and just some overall poor play to start the season. On the bright side, however, he will get the pick of the litter, if this trend is to continue, when we start picking in the Waiver Draft, a month from now.
Scott's team was only able to drum up 10 points in the week and yes, that was a good enough total to drop his team into 25th place for the time being. Milan Lucic of the Oilers was his guiding light, having 3 points in the week, but that couldn't make up for the eight players on his team that failed to pick up a point, two due to injuries throughout the week and two more were hurt or sick at one point or another through the week as well.
In terms of the mini-games, his team has already been knocked out of the survivor pool, his team took a bit of a tumble in the plus/minus pool, so he might have to go hunting for potential All-Stars in the Waiver Draft, since that might be his only shot at his money back this year.
There was a point in time this week, where Jeremy didn't hold on to the lead, rather he was being challenged by Chris and I believe that was in the early part of the week, but now that Week Four is in the books, Jeremy has now made it four weeks in a row in 1st place, but his lead has now dwindled down to 3 points.
Benson jetted up the standings with a 31-point week, claiming 2nd place, via the tie-breakers, with Chris, both teams are each sitting 3 points back of Jeremy. Brian fell out of the money spots, but is only 3 points back of Benson and Chris, so that race is still running pretty hot.
3rd place to 10th place is now a 12-point gap, as the money teams are starting to pull away a little bit, but it only takes a rough week for one of those teams to be brought back down to the rest of the group (or worse). Still lots of hockey to be played, so never fear!
The poor play of Henrik Lundqvist was the eventual death rattle for Brian's team in the goalie survivor pool, as he was the only team to be eliminated in Week Four, while Mike Condon saw limited action as well, as his number two. Brian's team ranks 13th in goalie minutes played, but that wasn't quite enough.
Talking about goalie minutes in this mini-game, Dale C., who has the most active goaltending duo in the pool, his team has already been eliminated. The number two team in the column belongs to Tony and he's still in and he could be considered the favourite to win.
Qualified, in somewhat of an order this past week, for Week Five are as follows: Chris, Mike, Benson, Tony, Stacey M., Wilton, Stacey C., Cam, Jeremy and Grant.
Steve's team might be having a hard time getting into the scoring lines on the boxscores, but they are not having any troubles being on the ice for goals when they're scored 5-on-5 or shorthanded, as they have been racking up the pluses in Week Four. Steve's team was a combined +16 in Week Four, bringing his mini-game leading total up to +22. That is 8 points better than both Grant and Eric and 12 points better than Dale B..
Kristy & Don were among those leaders, but their team fared the worst in Week Four, on the ice for a -13 rating in the week, dropping their number down to +7, good enough for only 8th place (tied).
The pool was a combined +13 in the week, which is the second best week of the four, so far, and that has been a bumpy road to start the year. It has been very up-and-down, but that is to be expected, I suppose.
We've already seen four weeks of play, so how about those goon teams? Yes, we know that this is not a paying pool, but we've got the stats on the forefront of the standings page, so we should talk about them, right?
Wes has found himself looking for the PIM pool title in the last couple of seasons, falling out of the money races and into the Waiver Draft mini-games, only to come up short both years. This year, however, the PIM pool is not active, yet he has himself quite the goon squad, compared to other teams, as his team now leads the unofficial pool by 28 minutes. Radko Gudas of the Flyers leads the way for his team, notching 40 minutes in penalties in the first four weeks of the season, while four other players are already into double-digits.
So, why not take a quick peek at the rookies? There were a few teams trying to buy into the rookie stocks before the wheel of mini-games had spun and these teams were not lucky enough to have the wheel land on the desired spot. Nevertheless, the rookies were taken and it is a little bit of a race out there.
Clayton and Cam's teams haven't been mentioned much in this week's Newsletter, but that's what the unofficial rookie pool will be for, I guess. Both of their teams now sit at 22 points through four weeks of the season, well clear of Brian's 3rd place team, which has 10 points. Both Clayton and Cam have three rookies on their teams, Clayton's led by Clayton Keller of the Coyotes and Cam's led by Will Butcher of the Devils, both are into the double-digits in scoring and off to good starts. This could have been a fun one, if it was an official pool.
Well, Week Four is in the books and thank goodness it's over! What a crappy week on the scoresheet, as it is by far the worst week for scoring in the pool this season. The first three weeks were good, averaging over 13 points per NHL game on the schedule, but Week Four and it's 47-game week, the pool could only muster 11.55 points per NHL game, giving us only 543 total points, the lowest total since Week One, when the league only played five days.
Injuries are starting to pile up, which isn't helping our cause. Participation in the pool is down, both among skaters and goalies, so we are in desperate need of these guys to get healthy again and we could really, really use that Waiver Draft sooner, rather than later... but rules are rules!
NEWS AND NOTES
Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf isn't having a whole lot of luck to start this season. Already battling some lower-body issues, Getzlaf took a puck in the face yesterday against Carolina and was forced from the game in the 2nd period. He was still being evaluated after the game and there hasn't been much of any updates since. Couldn't imagine it being too bad, but concussions have stemmed from a puck up high before, so you just never know.
Eric's 3rd round pick could have been a real bargain, if it wasn't for all of these injuries. Getzlaf has 7 points in six games, but he just can't seem to stay in the lineup these days and that's becoming quite an issue.
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson was removed from Saturday night's game against the St. Louis Blues, due to a lower-body injury and it sounds like it will indeed keep him out for some time. Atkinson wasn't able to skate on Sunday and is now likely unavailable for tonight's game against the Bruins, as the Jackets have called up Tyler Motte to take his place in the lineup. For now, he'll be considered to be day-to-day.
Atkinson hasn't quite been as productive as he was last season, only picking up 5 points in his first 11 games this year, which has to be a disappointment for Steve's team early on. Steve's team is the only one not to have any goalie points this year, so if he starts losing more forwards, it could make for a very long year.
The Dallas Stars are in Vancouver tonight to take on the Canucks and there are some question marks about the status of forward Martin Hanzal for this game. Hanzal has been listed as questionable for the game, but we don't really know why or because of what. He might be suffering through an injury in the early part of the year, as he only has 1 goal in 11 games this season, well down from where he should be, especially on an offensively-charged Stars team. So, it might be high time to rest him up and get him healed now, since there is a lot of hockey left to be played.
For Neil's 17th placed team, Hanzal is one of the reasons why his team is so far down in the standings, because it has been a disappointing start for the Czech forward. A week or two on the shelf now will probably be worth the same, as if he was playing... not much, so get him healed and get him productive again is the best course of action.
Vancouver Canucks rookie Brock Boeser is also questionable for tonight's game, due to a foot ailment that he has been dealing with, likely from blocking a shot last week. Boeser didn't practice over the weekend and the Canucks have made a call-up, just in case, but he'll likely be a game-time decision to play against the Stars or not. If he can't go, I would expect him to be listed as day-to-day.
Boeser has been great for Dale B., picking up 9 points in eight games so far this season, so missing time isn't ideal for the reigning champ. The Canucks will probably want to save him from doing too much damage, but they are running hot, in part to Boeser, so it will be a tough decision to make.
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Jeremy was fortunate to see Cory Schneider get activated from the Injured Reserve last night, as the Devils beat the Coyotes, bringing him back into the ranks of the safe teams for another week, while Grant saw the Capitals beat the Oilers in Edmonton last night, Braden Holtby standing tall in that one, moving Grant on to next week as well.
Unfortunately for Brian, he didn't get to see any action out of his last projected start, as Ondrej Pavelec took the reins for the Rangers and still lost in Montreal last night, which effectively eliminates him from the survivor pool.
Only three games to be played tonight and there's no survivor pool implications left, so we'll do a quick sweep of the games and get ready for next week's reset.
Ryan Miller (Cam) versus Scott Darling (Clayton)
The Ducks are in Carolina this afternoon for a matinee game and it will be Ryan Miller's first start of the year, as he has finally been activated from the Injured Reserve. Miller suffered a lower-body injury at the end of the preseason and he has missed all but the last couple of nights with the injury, set to make his first appearance today. He'll get Scott Darling and the Hurricanes today, a pretty good test, I'm sure.
Matt Murray (Stacey M.) versus Connor Hellebuyck (Neil)
Both Stacey M. and Neil are sitting at 21 points this week and both are looking for a decent finish to the week and that starts with their goaltending tonight. With the Penguins not playing last night, they will continue to run with their number one Matt Murray, while the Jets have already confirmed that it will be Connor Hellebuyck getting the nod for this one.
Phillip Grubauer (Grant) versus Mike Smith (Ryan)
Finally, this could have been the only survival game of the night, if the Capitals didn't win last night and it could have been a tough slog for Grant, with Grubauer getting a Flames team at home tonight. Mike Smith is the expected starter again, since they didn't play last night either and he will be leaned upon heavily this season, by the look of things. Both Grant and Ryan have had tough Week Fours, so a win could certainly ease the pain of it all, even just a little bit.