Monday, January 22, 2018
The Boston Bruins are really starting to clip along again in the Atlantic Division and none too soon, if you ask some people. They have been tracking down the Tampa Bay Lightning for top spot in the division and the league for the last few weeks, points in 14 straight games, and in Week Sixteen, they were led by Brad Marchand, who led all players in the hockey pool with 7 points.
Marchand and the Bruins played in four games this week and he was shut out in the opening game of the week, Monday against the Stars, but after that, he caught fire again. A goal and an assist against Montreal on Wednesday, a goal and a pair of assists against Long Island on Thursday and then another pair of assists against Montreal on Saturday.
This week brings Marchand's totals up to 20 goals and 48 points in only 37 games this season, having missed time to a couple of minor injuries this year. If he hadn't missed that time, it would be interesting to see where he would rank among the rest of the league, but for now, he currently ranks 23rd among all players, just inside of the 1st round consideration, if we were to redraft today.
For Cam, the Bruins forward is his best player this season and he is getting roughly the value he was expecting, taking him with the 32nd overall pick this year. Unfortunately, the rest of the team hasn't exactly been giving him that sort of value, as his side still sits below the equator in 16th place in the standings after 16 weeks.
After a horribly rocky start, finishing the first three weeks of the season in dead last in the standings, Brenda & Seward really have fought their way back up the standings, thanks in large part to these Mover & Shaker weeks, this being their second one this season. With 40 points on the board in Week Sixteen, they were able to jump on a week, where there wasn't a great deal of scoring overall and vault themselves from 15th to 7th in the blink of an eye.
This was only the second 40-point week that we have seen this year, Dale B. registering the other one in Week Eight, and we can all see where his team is these days. If the duo's team remains this hot, there is little to no reason why they couldn't shimmy their way up to a money spot before the end of the year.
It was quite the effort from their forwards this week, as seven of eight of them were able to register points, a minimum of 2 points for those seven players, which is a mighty fine start. Patrice Bergeron of the Bruins led the way with 6 points, while Alexander Radulov of the Stars and Joe Thornton of the Sharks each had 5 points. It's probably worth noting as well, that Alexander Steen of the Blues and Kari Lehtonen of the Stars found 4 points, rounding out their top players.
This week now brings their second segment total up to 180 points, from the start of Week Ten until now, and now there are only two more weeks left in the segment, before the next Waiver Draft players are drafted and activated for the stretch run. There are not very many holes in the duo's team, heading into the last player swap of the season, so it will be interesting to see if they make any moves or stay with the status quo, just to keep a good thing going... into the money.
Injuries and the bye week monster hit Derek B.'s team pretty hard in Week Sixteen, as a number of his guys either didn't find the scoresheet, didn't find a sheet of ice until late in the week or were laying on the sheets in the infirmary. The week's worst total was 8 points and that dropped Derek's team down from 8th place down to 13th, really just allowing Brenda & Seward to take his spot in the top 10.
Only four players were able to find the scoresheet and they all shared the lead for scoring on his team with 2 points a piece: Connor Brown of the Maple Leafs, Jonathan Drouin of the Canadiens, Wayne Simmonds of the Flyers and Steven Stamkos of the Lightning.
Now that the bye week nonsense is over with, the schedule should start to flatten out for everyone, but not before the All-Star break, which begins this week, starting after Thursday night's games. Still, Derek's team has 9 points to make up, just to jump back into the top 10 and the shortened week might make that a little more difficult. Week Eighteen might be where his team starts to shine again.
Talking about teams that have been moving up somewhat consistently, Stuart's team finally ascended into the money after a pretty long climb up from 14th spot after Week One, landing in 2nd place, nudging Wilton out of the money spots this week. Stuart's team was hot in Week Sixteen, registering 34 points, jumping over Benson as well and now he's the one that trails Dale B.'s team, down by 10 points after this week.
Wilton's team really fell off this week, picking up only 14 points and now it sits in 4th place, 10 points back of Benson's team in 3rd. Kristy & Don's team didn't have a good week either, having only 11 points and they're 12 points back of Wilton's team. The gaps are getting bigger and bigger and the money teams are starting to run away.
A 2-1 loss in overtime for the Capitals and no relief appearance in a timely fashion in the Golden Knights victory on Sunday meant that neither Grant, nor Wilton, were able to survive Week Sixteen and therefore, being as though they are the last two teams standings, they have split the pot for the goalie survivor pool for this season. It is quite the astonishing result in the end, given that we had made it this far and the goalies that were left all went cold in the same week, with plenty of games played. Still, the nature of the game is survival and sometimes there are ties in the survival game.
We can definitely say one thing about Steve's team, it's sure responsible on the ice. The last place team in the overall standings has the best shot at the plus/minus money, with his team increasing its lead over Cam's team, now at a 37-point gap.
Stacey M.'s team was the best in Week Sixteen, finishing with a +16 rating, but Steve's team was in 2nd place, with a +12 rating in the week, another 4 points better than Cam's team. It will be interesting to see if Steve can shore up his side for this mini-game in the next Waiver Draft.
We're only days away from the All-Star Game festivities and we still have to hear who is going to take the spot of Victor Hedman for the Atlantic team, but that's a minor blip on the radar that still needs to come. Saturday, we'll see a revamped skills competition, by the sound of things and then Sunday, that's where the money is going to be made, when the 3-on-3 tournament happens. Pool leaders Dale B. and Benson lead the way with players in the game, followed by Neil and Derek B., and as we've seen in years previous, it is just about anyone's competition.
It was a very poor week for scoring overall, as the pool only collected an average of 11.5 points per NHL game on the calendar this week, way down from the 14.3 we saw last week, which was near the Week One best, when almost everyone had a healthy team.
This week, the league will be shoving in 35 games between Monday and Thursday, ramping up for the All-Star Game festivities on Saturday and Sunday, so we'll be all tallied up and likely to start the Waiver Draft proceedings as soon as the audit is completed on Friday morning. There will be more info on that in the coming days.
NEWS AND NOTES
The Chicago Blackhawks welcomed Artem Anisimov back to their lineup after a few weeks on the shelf with an upper-body injury and to make room for the forward, they sent defenseman Gustav Forsling down to the AHL. Forsling had 3 goals and 13 points in 41 games played this season and has been consistently in the lineup since the end of December, so it is kind of a shock to see him go down in this instance.
For Jeremy, this is his forward coming back and his defenseman making room, which is awfully disappointing. Jeremy picked up Forsling in the first Waiver Draft, collecting 5 points in 17 games, but there was no indication if he would be back any time soon.
Finally, the nasty flu bug that has been traveling around got to the San Jose Sharks dressing room and took out forward Joonas Donskoi, ahead of their game against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night. Donskoi is considered to be day-to-day and you would think that he would draw back in for the team's next game, Tuesday night, at home to the Jets.
Donskoi is another Waiver Draft pickup this season, this time for Eric's team and he has been just okay since being activated, collecting 8 points in 16 games, to date. Eric's team was really good in Week Sixteen, collecting 30 points and moved up to 21st. Maybe there's more movement left in his side yet.
Sunday, January 21, 2018
Holy moly! We've made it to Sunday morning and neither surviving teams have a win and there is a mighty fine chance that this ends today, one way or another.
At first glance at the two key match-ups today, Grant certainly has the edge for winning the pool, given that he is the only one of the two that actually has a start today. The other scenario, which also has a decent probability of happening, is a tie. If both teams fail to register a win, the last two teams will split they money
Brian Elliott (Stacey C.) versus Braden Holtby (Grant)
Grant gets the last start of the week and he can thank his lucky stars that it is Braden Holtby set to take on the Flyers this afternoon, who are playing on back-to-back days, winning yesterday against New Jersey, 3-1. The Flyers will likely be sending Brian Elliott to the crease at the other end, making this into a top end match-up.
Barring a long shot result in Carolina, Holtby's result controls the finish of the goalie survivor pool and a win will mean Grant's money is returned to him.
Marc-Andre Fleury (Scott) versus Scott Darling (Clayton)
It has already been confirmed that Marc-Andre Fleury will be getting the start for the Vegas Golden Knights in Carolina today, meaning that if Wilton wants to register a win from this game, Malcolm Subban will have to come on in relief and be on the ice for the winning goal to get the win. It would be a hail mary pass, if there ever was one to win this competition, an improbable finish, yet not impossible.
If Holtby registers the win in Washington and Subban comes on, in some capacity, to win in Carolina, then we go for another week. If both teams fail to register a win today, then the survivor pool ends in a tie and $30 each will go to our two last teams standing. But a win for either side and a loss for the other team, that's a mini-game win outright. So, let the games begin!
I'm not 100% sure how many times I have actually forgotten that Connor Murphy has been taken in the draft this year, but I know he has been scratched a few more times than I have captured on the blog site this year, just because the Blackhawks have been rotating defensemen like mad. Last night was another one of those examples, with the Blackhawks playing the Islanders, Murphy came out as a healthy scratch, but will likely draw back in for their next game, after getting killed by the Islanders, 7-3.
Brian's team was trying to recover somewhat this week, finishing Saturday night with 16 points under his belt, which isn't too bad. His team is still stuck in 15th place though, 47 points out of the money.
Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm caught the bug that was floating around ahead of Saturday's game against the Florida Panthers and he was unable to dress for the game. He's considered to be day-to-day with the illness and will likely be considered probable to return on Tuesday, when the Predators host the Lightning.
Just a small hiccup for our pool leader, Dale B., who actually saw his lead shrink so far this week. His team only holds a 7-point advantage over Stuart's team, heading into Sunday, and both teams have a handful of games to be played on the last day of the week.
Costly day out for the New Jersey Devils, as they lost a couple of players to injury in their game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon and both of them were Waiver Draft pickups in Week Nine. Forward Brian Gibbons blocked a shot with his hand early on in the 1st period and never returned to the game, while starting goalie Keith Kinkaid suffered a lower-body injury midway through the 1st period, also not able to return. With Cory Schneider back upstairs, likely nursing that illness again, Keith Appleby had to make his NHL debut.
There have been no updates on the injured players, as of yet, but both Steve and Stuart are anxiously awaiting the news. With a week left before we start drafting the second time around, these injuries may play a part.
That flu bug is fairly nasty this year, also biting New York Rangers forward Michael Grabner on Saturday, shutting him down for the day/night, likely keeping him in bed for some extra rest. The Rangers have already taken quite the kicking in the injury department and no matter how minor this injury may be, it certainly wasn't helping the team, which dropped a 3-1 decision in Colorado on Saturday afternoon. The Rangers are in Los Angeles today and Grabner's status is probably questionable, at best.
Another tough day for Steve, losing Gibbons in Jersey and Grabner on the road for the Rangers, as his team is trying to take back 24th place from Scott's team, which had passed him again this week. Both teams will have reasonable prizes at the Week Eighteen Waiver Draft, among forwards available, so it might not be the worst thing to lose and have your pick of the litter.
Number one netminder for the San Jose Sharks, Martin Jones, has been reported as dealing with a minor injury, something that kept him from dressing on Saturday night, when the Pittsburgh Penguins came to town. The coaching staff said that they don't believe that the injury is too significant, but he's not expected to be ready to go for the second half of back-to-backs tonight, when they travel down the road to Anaheim for a game against the Ducks. For now, Jones is considered to be day-to-day.
Chris' team could have really used Jones tonight, as his team is only 1 point clear of the Basement Dweller nod this week, having only 9 points through Saturday night's action. His team has dropped down to 14th in the process and has somewhat lost touch with the group ahead of his team in the standings.
Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly was held out of Saturday night's contest against the Ottawa Senators, due to the lingering effects of a jolt he took in the team's previous game, Thursday night in Philadelphia. Rielly is considered to be day-to-day, as he was somewhat of a game-time decision last night. The Leafs have been one of the more tightly-lipped teams, in terms of injury, this season, so even if the injury is more significant than a game-time decision, we'd probably never know.
For Stacey M., her team is right in the thick of the group ahead of Chris, where 5 points separates 6th from 11th, and these points are getting awfully valuable, as we near the final third of the season. Here's hoping that Rielly isn't out too long for her side, as he has been a valuable piece.
Saturday, January 20, 2018
Happy Hockey Day in Canada, everyone! It kind of snuck up on me, the grand day of non-stop hockey coverage on CBC and Sportsnet, involving every Canadian team. Ron & Don are operating from Corner Brook, Newfoundland today and it might be worth tuning in for... for some of it, at least.
But we should start with the goalie survivor pool, since that's what we're all here for anyways and then we'll talk a bit more about Hockey Day in Canada.
Both survival games on Friday night were a bust! The Golden Knights lost in overtime to the Panthers and the Capitals lost to the Canadiens in regulation, meaning that both Wilton and Grant would be heading into Saturday with nothing in hand.
13 games on the schedule for Saturday and since Washington already finished back-to-back nights, they wouldn't be playing, meaning that Grant will have to wait until Sunday for his last kick at the can, while Wilton does have one possible game today and an outside shot at one on Sunday as well, so what may come of it all?
Andrei Vasilevskiy (Wilton) versus Devan Dubnyk (Brenda & Seward)
Believe it or not, it is also Hockey Day in Minnesota too, so the Wild will get a primo game at home today, with the Eastern Conference's best team in town to play. This is where Wilton gets his start, as Andrei Vasilevskiy is expected to return to the crease to continue his hockey pool leading ways. The Wild should be amped up to make this into a pretty exciting game and they are also expected to be throwing their number one to the wolves, Devan Dubnyk. Brenda & Seward are looking to capture their second Mover & Shaker of the season and they currently trail this week by 1 point, so a win would be a great help in that cause today, not to mention playing spoiler.
Connor Hellebuyck (Neil) versus Mike Smith (Ryan)
The Hockey Day festivities get underway early in Calgary, with an afternoon match-up between the Jets and the Flames, a 1pm MT start for those looking to catch the game on TV. Both Neil and Ryan have goalies going in this one, as they battle internally between themselves in the standings, 1 point separating the two sides, 20th and 22nd in the standings.
Tuukka Rask (Clayton) versus Carey Price (Dale C.)
The Montreal Canadiens don't get a Canadian rival today, they get one of their Original Six rivals instead, the Boston Bruins. The Canadiens played last night, so we're expecting the goalie that didn't play, Carey Price, giving Dale C. a start, as he chases down Clayton's team, which should have Tuukka Rask going at the other end. The two teams here are only 5 points apart, 8th and 12th in the standings.
Frederik Andersen (Mike) versus Craig Anderson (Tony)
It's Andersen versus Anderson again to make up the Battle of Ontario. The Maple Leafs are in Ottawa to take on the Senators, who will be wearing those sharp NHL100 Classic jerseys again tonight. Mike and Tony have their keepers going again in this one, but this match-up in the pool standings isn't quite as close as the last couple of games, as Tony's team has seen some real improvement of late, jumping into the top 10 for the first time this season, sitting 9th, 29 points clear of Mike's 17th place team.
Jacob Markstrom (Wes) versus Cam Talbot (Wes)
Both the Vancouver Canucks and the Edmonton Oilers are coming off their bye week breaks and they will feature two Wes goalies tonight and with Wes only 1 point clear of the Basement Dweller position this week, he's hoping for a 0-0 draw into the shootout for maximum points from his keepers. Neither team has been that good defensively this year, so it is way more likely that he'll just be getting a win from one of these keepers.
The Minnesota Wild offered an update on injured forward Nino Niederreiter on Saturday morning, saying that he won't be back as soon as originally expected, now believing that he will remain out with his lower-body injury until after the All-Star break, which goes next weekend. This means a return in Week Nineteen, just after the Waiver Draft concludes. The Swiss forward has already missed well over a week with the injury already and things aren't progressing nearly as well as anyone had hoped.
Of course, this has had an effect on Derek B.'s team, which is now clinging to a top 10 spot, 32 points out of the money. Another couple weeks without the forward will certainly his chances for that money spot in the last third, as he'll have lots of ground to make up.
The Winnipeg Jets placed Steve Mason on the Injured Reserve, retroactive to last week, as the tune has changed from the team and it's not for the better. Initially, the Jets said Mason was under the weather, dealing with an illness, but it has now surfaced that he is indeed dealing with his second concussion of the season and is now out indefinitely. Michael Hutchinson is now up with the club and will serve as backup for now. A rough season for Mason only seems to be getting worse.
This has to be disappointing for Troy's team, which couldn't catch a break with Mason, his 1st round pick this year, 23rd overall. Not surprisingly, Mason ranks last among 1st round picks this season with only 7 points and couldn't capitalize on a great season for the Jets.
Friday, January 19, 2018
Both Wilton and Grant suffered losses in their two goalie starts last night, so the survivor pool moves onto Friday night and the anxiousness is probably ramping up just a little bit more.
Three games on the NHL schedule tonight and two of them has some possible relevance to the goalie survivor pool
Malcolm Subban (Wilton) versus James Reimer (Troy)
The Golden Knights beat the Lightning last night in Tampa, but they were not using Wilton's goalie for the win last night, but tonight in Sunrise, Malcolm Subban will get the nod and Wilton will get his much-needed start. At the other end, it will be James Reimer for the host Panthers and he has been pretty good for the club, helping them go 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. There are no guarantees for a win here, especially with Vegas on back-to-back nights.
Antti Niemi (N/A) versus Philipp Grubauer (Grant)
The Washington Capitals are also on back-to-back nights and they dropped the first half of two games in overtime against New Jersey last night and then they get to face Antti Niemi and the Canadiens at home. The Canadiens have been pretty poor this season and throwing a rare start to the Finn against a potent Capitals team seems a bit harsh, but the Canadiens play on back-to-back nights, Saturday at home to Boston, so they're saving the number one for that game. This is good news for Grant, since the Capitals are going with Philipp Grubauer tonight, so this could still be a worth a couple of points in the standings. Grant will have one more shot at a win from Washington this weekend, if the Habs get the best of Caps tonight.