Monday, January 15, 2018

Week Fifteen Newsletter





Johnny Gaudreau and the Calgary Flames were not among those players and teams that found themselves in bye week hell in Week Fifteen, because their bye week starts today and goes all the way through to Saturday night, when they play the Winnipeg Jets.  No, Gaudreau made the most of his week, playing in four games and leading all players in the pool with 8 points, to take his first Player of the Week nod... ever and the first Calgary Flames player to take the crown since Jiri Hudler did it in Week Twenty-Two of the 2015 season.

Gaudreau started off the week with a trio of assists against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, added a goal and an assist in Tampa Bay on Thursday, just a goal against the Panthers on Friday and capped the week off with another pair of assists in Carolina on Sunday.  2 goals and 6 assists in four games, brings his overall totals up to 15 goals and 54 points in 45 games this season, good enough for 3rd overall in pool scoring.

For Steve, this is the sort of distinction that would have been better to come for his team at the start of the year, when his team was not settled down near the bottom of the standings, but at this point, I'm sure this will work too.  Steve and Scott are now embattled for the last spot in the standings and it's becoming quite a good show.

Speaking of timing, I'm sure Wes would have appreciated his team being a Mover & Shaker at the beginning of the season too, instead of just past the midway part of the season, after a slow start to the year.  Nevertheless, Wes' team had a very good Week Fifteen, finishing with 33 points and moving into striking distance of the top 20, now only 1 point out in 22nd place.

Wes' team was one of the sides that wasn't hurting for skater games in the mid-season bye week part of the schedule in Week Fifteen, as his team ranked 3rd in skater games played, behind Chris and Grant, where you'll see in the Basement Dweller, some teams really did struggle.  Wes' team had 29 skater games in the week and led the pool in minutes played from his goaltending with 302 (five starts).

Jack Eichel and Kyle Okposo of the Buffalo Sabres led the way for Wes' team with 5 points each, while Mikko Koivu of the Wild, Ryan O'Reilly of the Sabres and Jacob Markstrom of the Canucks all had 4 points each.  Only one player on Wes' active roster was held to naught in the week and for the most part, his team has remained fairly healthy for the last little while.

Unfortunately for Wes, his gamble on the Buffalo Sabres really turning their fortunes around didn't quite work out for him, except for this week, as they have sort of led to his disappointing season, where his forwards rank 23rd in the pool in scoring, while his defense hasn't been a big help and his goaltending has been good (tied for 7th).

His team is now 68 points out of the money with a second Waiver Draft to go in a couple of weeks, but it might be too little, too late for his team now.  His only hope at getting his money back now is Eichel playing in the All-Star Game 3-on-3 tournament and putting on a show of his own.  It's certainly possible, but a bit of a long shot, given that he is Wes' only representation in a few weeks.

Neil's team was among those hit the hardest in bye week hell in Week Fifteen, as his team, already reeling from injuries and healthy scratches, only saw 14 skater games last week and only a couple of starts from his goalies, leading to a season-low of 7 points.  His overall standing didn't change from week to week, as his team remained in 19th place, but his team is now 9 points back of Mike's team in 18th.

Paul Stastny of the Blues and Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks were his only two bright spots in the week, each finishing with 2 points, while the rest of his team really didn't see too much action.  His team really missed the likes of Nikita Kucherov of the Lightning, who has kept his team away from the Basement Dweller for the year, leading up to this point, as the Lightning return to action on Thursday.

There haven't been a lot of bright spots on Neil's side, besides Kucherov, as his forwards rank 12th in the pool, his defense has really struggled in 24th and his goalies have only been okay, tied for 11th.  It all hasn't added up well for his team, which is holding steady in the standings these days.  His team is 56 points out of the money and swapping out defensemen isn't going to give him that boost he needs.

Well, it isn't too often that we go through the first part of the Newsletter and not have a mention of one of the teams up and around the money, but there we have it.  The top three didn't change in order this week, it's still Dale B., Benson and Wilton leading the charge in the money spots, 1st to 3rd separated by 13 points, which is still a reasonable enough gap for movement this year.  No one has been running away with it.  This is Dale's 5th straight Newsletter in top spot and in most years, once a team hits that streak by this time in the season, it's hard to stop.

The top 10 is still very much worth looking at, as the gap from 3rd to 10th is 29 points, something that a good hot streak and a home run in the next Waiver Draft could go a long ways from sorting out.  That home run swing is somewhat improbable, but not impossible, so these teams will need those hot streaks or Mover & Shaker weeks to come fairly soon.

Well, if you haven't been watching the blog, you wouldn't have known that the two surviving teams, Grant and Wilton, were safe after Tuesday night's action, despite the bye week hell that teams were going through.  Week Sixteen will have its fair share of bye week complications as well, so it may still remain fairly interesting.  If these two teams can make it through unscathed, then the All-Star week will be the next hiccup.

There was a very notable week in the plus/minus department, as Stacey C.'s team had the 2nd-best week in the season, to date, finishing with a +19 rating in Week Fifteen and jumping up to 7th place in the mini-game standings.  Mini-game leader, Steve, also had a decent week, finishing with a +14 rating and his team increased their overall lead to 33 points and is 52 points ahead of Stacey's team.

Now, a lead in this category is far more volatile than the scoring leads, given that this total has the ability to go down at any given time in the season, but so far, Steve's team is looking very stable, if not solid defensively.  This is good news for him, as this gives him a very good shot at his money back in a season, where his team hasn't been able to score much.

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING

The bye weeks have made for some real positives in the scoring department, as the average games have seen some excellent scoring numbers.  This week's average NHL game was giving us 14.3 points for the pool, 2nd to Week One's average of 14.9 points, but that week also had 31 NHL games on the schedule, so the overall tally wasn't all that impressive.

Week Sixteen has 43 NHL games in it, not quite as high as some weeks we've seen, but certainly better than last, where a lot of teams will have finished up their bye weeks, some are getting started, but everyone should be back at it by the weekend and the schedule will start to improve for a short while, before the All-Star break.

NEWS AND NOTES

Two notes from the Calgary Flames, both came ahead of their game against the Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon. The first was the placement of Jaromir Jagr on the Injured Reserve, opening a spot up on their roster for forward Ryan Lomberg and the second was the scratching of Sean Monahan, who became the latest of the flu-stricken players in the NHL. He missed out on Sunday's game and was considered day-to-day.

The Jagr days appear to be done in Calgary, which will be a required change for Ryan's team at the Week Eighteen Waiver Draft, which is only a couple of weeks away now.  Monahan, on the other hand, won't be out for very long, meaning that Wilton doesn't have too much to worry about here.

The New York Islanders also made a roster move, which really doesn't make a huge impact on the pool, as Andrew Ladd was placed on the Injured Reserve, retroactive to the 5th, which means he should be eligible to come off at any time.  It does suggest that the Islanders forward isn't going to be ready for the team's next game, opening up a roster spot for an emergency recall of forward Tanner Fritz, ahead of Monday's game in Montreal.  Ladd is dealing with an upper-body injury.

This will affect Stacey M.'s projected games total at the start of Week Sixteen, as Ladd's games are due to come off, without any expectation of him rejoining the lineup anytime soon.  Her team continues to hover around the top 10 and this injury may hinder her team's chances of moving up any further.

The Carolina Hurricanes are holding their breath, as they are awaiting word of the extent of Sebastian Aho's injury, what is believed to be a lower-body injury, suffered against the Flames on Sunday.  The injury is said to be around the knee area, after colliding with Mark Giordano and the young Finn wasn't able to put any weight on the leg, as he was helped off the ice.  This has some potential to be some pretty bad news.

Aho is currently ranks 2nd among those players taken in the 8th round of the draft, making him into a really good bargain pick for Kristy & Don this season.  One of the key picks that have helped them stay within arm's reach of the money spots this year.  Any long-term effects of this injury could be devastating.

The Vancouver Canucks continued their road trip on Sunday in Minnesota and with non-pool forward Brandon Sutter coming back into the lineup, that meant someone had to come out and unfortunately for the pool, that was Daniel Sedin, who was dealing with some back spasms and couldn't go.  It doesn't sound like anything too major, just part of the wear and tear of everyday life in the NHL.  He's currently day-to-day and the Canucks are starting their bye week today, so he'll get some much-needed time off.

Cam's team has really fallen off the pace in recent weeks, seeing his team drop down to 16th this past week and a bye week for the Canucks isn't going to help his cause any.  This could be a rough finish for him and he'll be looking intently on the All-Star Game for a chance at his money back.

Finally, the New York Rangers are very guarded around Ryan McDonagh and why he couldn't go on Sunday against the Penguins. The captain of the team wasn't skating in practice over the weekend and was a game-time decision for the tilt against their rivals from Pittsburgh, but the Rangers aren't saying too much right now. We're considering him day-to-day for the moment, but this seems like the kind of situation that could get worse, before it gets better.

Of course, that's not great news for Dale C.'s team, which currently holds down the 10th spot in the standings.  Dale's team does rebound out of the bye week hell just fine, so there is hope for his team yet, but McDonagh's absence on the blueline will hinder his team, if it is for any extended period.
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