Thursday, February 23, 2017

Goalie Announcements (Feb 23)

It's Thursday, only four nights left this week and the anxiety should start to set in about now, as the starts are going to be limited, no matter which way you cut it.  Both Stacey M. and John S. are still looking for a win this week and there are three possible games below, where they *might* have a start.

Will they indeed have those starts?

Henrik Lundqvist (Grant) versus Frederik Andersen (Brian)
The Rangers are in Toronto tonight, but they are going back to the well with Henrik Lundqvist, keeping Antti Raanta on the bench as the back-up tonight.

A story line at the top of the standings sees Brian, our returning leader, getting a key start from the Maple Leafs, as he tries to break the tie with Dale B. with a win.  Frederik Andersen will have his hands full, but it should be a very entertaining game.

Brian Elliott (Derek B.) versus Ben Bishop (Dale C.)
John's only shot at a win tonight will be sitting on the bench, as the Calgary Flames continue to ride Brian Elliott on their road trip, as they head into Tampa to take on Dale's number one keeper, Ben Bishop.

Derek and Dale are only 5 points  away from each other in the overall standings, but they are 23rd and 21st, respectively, so the only story here is that John isn't getting his start.

Calvin Pickard (Derek B.) versus Pekka Rinne (Stacey M.)
It hasn't been confirmed at the time of the post, Derek is likely going to have a couple goalies going tonight and the second start is out to be a spoiler, as Calvin Pickard and the lowly Avalanche will look to spoil Stacey's only chance at a win tonight in Nashville.  The Predators are expected to go with Pekka Rinne tonight, as he was in the starter's net at the morning skate.

Stacey is only 12 points up on Derek as well, so if Derek could spoil the win and close the gap a little bit more, there's a little extra something in this game.

Morning Player Notes in the Draft (Feb 23)

The Anaheim Ducks made a quick recall, just before their game against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night, as Jhonas Enroth was called up to take the spot of John Gibson, who is currently dealing with a lower-body injury, which was the reason he was unable to start.  There wasn't much for details, but with the abundance of work of late, it could very well be a fabricated injury issue, just to offer up some extra rest down the stretch for the young number one.  We'll see, he's day-to-day right now.

This is something Dale B. doesn't want to see, as his number one goalie and his best player this season can't make a start due to "injury."  Dale's team lost their 2-point lead on Wednesday night, as Brian leveled up the standings at 490 points, but also has the tie-breakers, re-taking 1st place.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Andrej Sekera blocked a shot early in the 2nd period against the Florida Panthers and was forced from the game, not before trying a couple shifts with the injury, but in the end was shut down for the rest of the night.  The team was going to do some more tests today to see if it is any more than a soft tissue injury, but the Oilers would certainly be shopping for another defenseman, if Sekera will be down for any significant amount of time.  He'll be day-to-day, until otherwise noted.

There's not much left for Dale C.'s team this season, other than possibly moving into the top 20 for pride purposes, but that doesn't get you much these days, since we're back to randomly selecting the draft order year after year.  His team is 6 points out of 20th place, just trailing Kristy & Don for the spot.

It appears that Michael Del Zotto was a healthy scratch on Wednesday night for the game against Washington and there are speculations out in the interwebs that Del Zotto maybe a target for the trade deadline, as the 26-year old is on the final year of his current contract and he will be able to go to unrestricted free agency in July, once that deal expires.  The Flyers are 3 points out of a wild card spot, but have been rotating defensemen like crazy, so they might be able to get something for a guy who might spend more nights in the press box moving forward.

Wes' team is only 9 points out of the top half of the standings and a move for Del Zotto has some potential to be very positive for his team, as the defender is known to be somewhat gifted offensively and a team that has some punch could be mutually beneficial with him in it.  Something to definitely keep an eye on.

Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen left the game against the Flyers with a lower-body injury after colliding with Radko Gudas in the 2nd period.  Niskanen reportedly took the brunt of the collision in the leg/knee area and immediately left the ice, not to return.  There hasn't been much word on the injury on Thursday morning, but we should see something before their next game, tomorrow night, at home to Edmonton.  If the injury is more significant than day-to-day, we'll post an update for sure.

Niskanen was by no means a goon this season, but he has contributed 26 minutes in penalties to Kristy & Don's cause, which is slowly falling away from the PIM pool consideration, thanks to injuries across the board.  Their team is now 53 minutes behind the lead and only 10 minutes of Eric's team, which may not last very long.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Goalie Announcements (Feb 22)

Both of our last surviving teams had a start on Tuesday night, but neither Devan Dubnyk or Pekka Rinne could walk away with wins, unable to defeat the Blackhawks and the Flames, respectively.

Wednesday night is going to be a light night on the schedule and so much so, that the neither surviving team has any action going on, lessening their chances at that key win this week.  Since there is only

Cam Talbot (Marcie) versus James Reimer (Eric)
With the Oilers going with Laurent Brossoit on Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, it would seem safe to assume that Cam Talbot would get the call on Wednesday night against the dangerous Panthers.  Florida has announced that they are going to be going with James Reimer on Wednesday night, which I believe makes this three straight starts for the supposed number two.

Marcie's team is looking to close the gap on 2nd place tonight with a win, as it stands now, it is 16 points heading into the evening.

Braden Holtby (Jeremy) versus Michal Neuvirth (Clayton)
The Capitals are in Philadelphia tonight and there's no surprise at the visitor's end, while the Flyers continue to go with Michal Neuvirth in their net, opting against Steve Mason for a fifth straight time.

Jeremy's team is 26 points out of the money, which is a couple Mover & Shaker weeks out, but if his team can keep pace with a win tonight, there are still plenty of weeks to make up that gap.  Currently, his week isn't off to a great start.

Tuukka Rask (Troy) versus John Gibson (Dale B.)
All signs are pointing to a battle of the number one goalies tonight on the pond, as it should be Tuukka Rask against John Gibson, although neither have been 100% confirmed at the time of the post being completed.  The Bruins are playing the first half of back-to-back nights, leaning towards Rask, while John Gibson has been pretty busy of late, but he did come in relief of Jonathan Bernier in his last start, so it's hard to say.

Dale could really use the start from Gibson, as the Ducks don their third jerseys tonight.  Dale is hanging on to 1st place and the test is quite mighty in the Bruins, but certainly not impossible.

Morning Player Notes in the Draft (Feb 22)

Calgary's acquisition of defenseman Michael Stone was going to send some shock waves through their lineup and it certainly did.  Garnet Hathaway was sent down to the minors and Dennis Wideman was made into a healthy scratch, as the Flames took on the Predators in a wild one on Tuesday.  Wideman, the obvious pool player of the two, is likely on the trade block, given his limited role with the team and his huge paycheque and now, they can protect this asset before the trade deadline and stay relatively competitive on the ice, with their new acquisitions leading the way.

For Grant, he is hoping that Wideman can get dealt before too long, as his team wants to finish with a reasonable standing.  Currently, his team sits in 15th place, 7 points back of the 13th, the middle of the pack, 9 points back of the top half.  I'm sure the top half would be an ideal finish.

The Edmonton Oilers only got two quick shifts out of defenseman Adam Larsson on Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, as he reportedly left the game in the 1st period with tightness in his back and he wasn't able to return to the game.  We still haven't seen any updates on the status of Larsson after the game or this morning and the Oilers quickly turn around and play the Florida Panthers tonight, so his status would be considered questionable, at best.

Brian has clawed back a point on Dale B. on Tuesday night, but if Larsson can't go on Wednesday night, it does limit the chances at clawing back that last point to tie up the overall standings.  This race isn't short of good news bytes, that's for sure.

The Montreal Canadiens are still in their period of adjustment with their new head coach, Claude Julien, which means that the lineup will probably find some tweaks, in and out, for the next little while, as he finds his balance.  On Tuesday night, for the game against the Rangers, Julien opted to scratch defenseman Nikita Nesterov, sending him up to the press box as a healthy scratch.  This isn't anything new for the big Russian defender, but it likely isn't the start he would want with his new coach, already being a target for the press box.

Wes' team continues to be on a mission to the top half of the standings, trying to get into a quality finish to the year.  His team was down in the crapper around the first Waiver Draft and the changes he was able to make has been good.  This scratch is negligible, given the position and the scoring rate of the player.

Prior to the Pittsburgh Penguins playing the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night, the visiting birds announced that forward Nick Bonino wouldn't dress, because he was under the weather. He'll be listed as day-to-day, but this illness has been known to cost players anywhere between one to four games this season, so we'll be keeping an eye on him. During the game, the Penguins also lost the services of defenseman Trevor Daley, due to a lower-body injury, and he didn't return.  There was no immediate update on his status, but the Pens blueline can ill-afford to lose another player down this stretch.

The big news here is Daley's injury, as this is another knock against Dale B.'s team, as he continued to defend his lead spot atop the standings, but his lead has now dropped down to 1 point.  Daley isn't a huge part of his team, but it all adds up.  Bonino, on the other hand, belongs to Stacey M. and he plays no part in the goalie survivor pool, which is about all she has left to cheer for this season.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Goalie Announcements (Feb 21)

Monday didn't offer up any key match-ups for the goalie survivor pool, so it didn't make a whole lot of sense to go over those two games. So, we kick off the week on Tuesday night and the schedule will allow for all four surviving goalies to get their gear on, but the question will be... will they hit the ice?

Both John S. and Stacey M. should get a start, but the question will be, who will get two?  Both, either... neither?

This is a bit of a landmine week, given the lessened amount of games in the week, so if they can both get their wins early, that would likely put them on the path to splitting this pool at the end of the season.

Stacey won't be getting a start out of the Rangers tonight, as the coaching staff confirmed nice and early on Tuesday morning that they will be going with the same lineup from Sunday, which includes Henrik Lundqvist getting the start for the Blueshirts.  For Grant, that's a start for him penciled in the books for his 15th placed team.  The match-up from the visitors should be Carey Price, given the nature of the opponent and the timing in the schedule, which bodes well for Benson, who is 6 points up on Grant in the overall race.

On the plus side for Stacey, Pekka Rinne was manning the starter's crease at the morning skate for the Predators, which means that he'll be the likely starter for their match-up against the visiting Calgary Flames.  Wait, doesn't John have a Flames goalie?  Why yes, yes he does.  Does Chad Johnson get the start for the visitors tonight?  Nope.  The win and your in theory has been kiboshed for Brian Elliott getting the start in Nashville.  Derek B. should be happy about that.

John does get a start though, as Devan Dubnyk was confirmed as the Minnesota Wild starter nice and early today with a giant test ahead of his team with the Chicago Blackhawks in town.  As expected, it will be Corey Crawford in the visitor's net tonight, giving a start to Marcin and his 12th place team.  Marcin is only 1 point up on John in the overall standings, so this is somewhat of a swing game in the middle of the overall race... you know, if that mattered for much.

Afternoon Player Notes in the Draft (Feb 21)

The Ottawa Senators coaching staff did update some injury news from the weekend, giving a little more clarity on the situation. Bobby Ryan does have a broken finger and is now expected to be out 4-to-6 weeks and should have already been placed on the Injured Reserve, due to their recent call-ups and maximum roster sizes. Mark Stone is day-to-day with a neck injury and isn't suffering from any head/concussion issues, so he could be back whenever. Mike Hoffman is currently dealing with a groin injury and is also day-to-day right now. Neither Stone or Hoffman were on the ice for the morning skate today, so it does seem doubtful that they'll play against the Devils tonight.

Bad news for Wes and double the bad news for Derek B., as they will be missing time with these injuries, by the look of things.  Both pool teams are in the bottom half of the standings, but it makes it less fun for them down the stretch, for sure.

There was a quick update on Steven Stamkos today, as he was on the ice and skating with coaches.  There was no timetable update as to when he would return to the lineup, but his knee injury seems to be healing in reasonable time.

Benson has been banking on a quicker return for Stamkos, trying to get back on track in the overall standings, but it looks like slow and steady will win this race and will keep Benson from winning the overall race in the pool.

You may have seen Mitch Marner being placed on the Injured Reserve today and there might be some extra concern, but all it really does is confirm that he won't be in the lineup tonight against the Jets, but any time afterwards, he will be eligible to come off from his upper-body injury.  His placement will just open a roster spot, if necessary, nothing more, really.  He's still considered day-to-day and could be back in before the end of the week, assuming the doctors give him clearance.

Dale B. and his 2-point lead in the standings certainly hopes for a quick return, as Marner has been huge in his overall points total.  A quick return would bode exceptionally well for keeping the lead before the end of the week.

Morning Player Notes in the Draft (Feb 21)

Ahead of the Ducks' game against the Coyotes, one of two games on Monday night, they made rough & tumble forward Jared Boll into a healthy scratch again, shortly after returning to the lineup on the weekend. Boll has been in and out of the lineup quite a bit this season and with the Ducks in the thick of the division hunt, they will continue to operate like they are chasing a playoff spot down.

The opening night of Week Twenty was not good on the PIM pool at all, as only five teams registered a minor penalty, including Troy's team, who was missing Boll for the night.  Only 10 minutes registered in two games doesn't reflect very well on the weekly average.

The Arizona Coyotes had to resort to giving Marek Langhamer his NHL debut on Sunday night against the Ducks, after Mike Smith had to leave the game under the concussion protocol in the 3rd period.  There hasn't been any update on Smith, as to whether he has or hasn't suffered a concussion, as he was likely taken off by a league spotter to go to the quiet room with less than five minutes to go in the game.  If he gets the all clear, he could be back in net before too long, but if not, the Coyotes will have to do another recall, as Louis Domingue is also hurt with a lower-body injury.

Smith has been a big fixture on Marcie's rise up the standings in the last few weeks and as much as he did get credit for the win last night, a concussion could be problematic for her side, as that will keep him out for at least a week and possibly longer.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Trouba Suspended for Two

The Winnipeg Jets are not only dealing with injuries of their own right now, but they are now having to go forward through the next two games without defenseman Jacob Trouba, thanks to a 2-game suspension, handed out by the NHL Department of Player Safety on Monday.

Trouba was nabbed for his illegal check to the head of Ottawa's Mark Stone, which was a clear chicken wing elbow to the chin, instead of a full body, shoulder-to-shoulder hit, which should have happened to stay within the letter of the law.  The clip suggests that Stone didn't return to the game, but may not have suffered much of an injury at all, which is positive news for the Senators, but didn't help Trouba's case for a lesser punishment.

This is a pretty big revelation, as Trouba belongs to our new pool leader, Dale B., and with the Winnipeg Jets only projected to play one game this week, Dale won't see the 23-year old defender until Week Twenty-One, when the Jets play at home against St. Louis on March 3rd.

This season, Trouba has 5 goals and 24 points in 47 games with the Jets, a little better than half a point per game.  In theory, that means Dale may only miss out on 1 point, on the season average, which isn't too bad, but it will feel like something much worse, given that the schedule works against the Jets at this time of the season.

Flames Acquire Defenseman Stone


2017 Season 2017 July 1st Status
To Calgary Pos Age GP Goals Points Cap Years Cap
Michael Stone D 26 45 1 9 $2 mil 0 UFA
-----
To Arizona Pos Age GP Goals Points Cap Years Cap
Retained Cap Hit 50% $2 mil
2017 3rd Round Draft Pick
Conditional 2018 5th Round Draft Pick

We're not too far away from the NHL trade deadline and it will be another year, where I will try and put together all of the trades that have some sort of pool importance to them and that all kicked off on Monday, with the Calgary Flames acquiring defenseman Michael Stone from the Arizona Coyotes for a 2017 pick and possibly a 2018 pick as well.

Stone will join the Flames at a reduced cap hit, thanks to the Coyotes retaining some of his salary owed for a 3rd round pick in this June's draft and if he re-signs, since he is a pending unrestricted free agent come July, the Coyotes will also receive a 5th round pick in the 2018 draft.

The 26-year old defender has been quietly emerging on the hockey pool scene as a fairly reasonable, yet deeper, player on a team, but really jumped into prominence in the 2014 season, where he picked up 21 points.  Since then, he has done fairly well and really made a name for himself in the 2016 season, where he has topped out at 36 points.

His 2017 season in Arizona hasn't nearly been as productive, just ask Grant, as his 9 points this season only has him ranked 527th overall in pool scoring, well down from 239th in the 2016 season.  This could be one of the big reasons why the Coyotes are okay to part with him, besides free agency, as the price tag was fairly steep this year and the return wasn't quite there.

It will be interesting to see where Stone slots in with the Flames and how much this addition expedites the possible exit of a guy like Dennis Wideman, who has been rumoured to be on the move for a while.  The Flames have already added Matt Bartkowski to their lineup and changes are going to have to be made internally, to make everyone fit.

Week Nineteen Newsletter



Where did that weekend go? Well, at least there is a Monday off for me to sit down and recap all of that weekend that I missed.

Did John get his win?  I don't think my team did very well, the Canucks certainly got the most important win out of the weekend.  I suppose there were some ups and downs, like any regular weekend, eh?  Let's have a look and see how the last few days affected the pool.



It was down to two players again for the head of the table this week, but the tie-breaker was exceptionally easy, as it was a goalie against a natural goal scorer.  Indeed, it was Winnipeg's Patrik Laine taking the banner position in Week Nineteen, thanks to his 8-point week, but he falls short of becoming the first rookie to earn the nod, as Auston Matthews has already had the nod, back in Week Twelve.

The 18-year old Finn opened the week with a hat-trick against the Stars on Valentine's Day, which was followed up with a goal against the Penguins on Thursday, a goal and an assist against the Canadiens on Hockey Day in Canada and then his week concluded with a pair of assists against the Senators on Sunday night.  It was a busy week, but his less-than-idle hands did a lot of damage.

The Winnipeg phenom now leads all rookies in scoring with 28 goals and 52 points in 54 games with the Jets, which is good enough for 27th overall in pool scoring, vaulting past Matt Murray, Mitch Marner and Matthews for the lead.

The rookie sensation hasn't exactly improved Scott's standing though, as his team, besides his rookies, haven't been too productive of late and his team currently sits in 11th place overall.

It's another week and another Mover & Shaker has taken their place in the money spots, keeping the race for that last dash of cash very interesting.  Marcie's team is the latest to make the leap, as her team, which is entrenched in many of the money conversations, gets back into the big one, thanks to her team's 35-point effort in Week Nineteen, which has even opened up a bit of a gap between her team and 4th place as well.

This was the second time in four weeks that Marcie's team has climbed up to the top of the weekly standings and back in Week Sixteen, her team was back in 6th place and now it sits in the money, making the most of a good run of late.  Her team currently leads the third segment, picking up 65 points over the last two weeks and I don't think we've heard the last of her team... in this Newsletter, at the very least.

Goaltending was tops on her team this week, as both her goalies, Cam Talbot of the Oilers and Mike Smith of the Coyotes, finished with 6 points, nearly accounting for one-third of her team's points in two players.  Marcie also had a monster week from Sharks defenseman Brent Burns, who was good for another 5 points and is by far the best defenseman in the pool this season.  Five more players were good for 3 points a piece, really rounding out an even display of offense this week from her team.

Now, heading into Week Twenty, Marcie is only 12 points behind 2nd place, 14 points behind 1st and did make up ground on both teams over the last couple of weeks.  It all starts from the back end for her team, as she owns the pool's best defensemen and the 4th-best goaltending combo in the pool, it almost doesn't matter that her forwards rank 22nd.

How much more does her team have left in the tank?

Troy saw a decent challenge this week for the Basement Dweller, as there was six teams all within 5 points of his goon squad, but in the end, Troy's team did hold out for back-to-back Basement Dweller nods.  Those six teams can still hang their heads in shame, as that was just too close.

Troy is obviously in it for the goon money, so it makes no difference that his team is 45 points back of 24th place, which Tony's unlucky band of fellows occupies.

Is there any real point in going over how bad it still is?  Probably not.

Let's move on to the money race.  We have a new leader!

Dale B. has returned to the pinnacle of the standings, thanks to another good week, which was actually comparable to Marcie's Mover & Shaker week with 31 points.  He zipped past Brian in the standings and opened up a quick 2-point gap in the process.  And then, as it was highlighted above, Marcie sits 12 points back of Brian and is now 10 points ahead of Stacey C. for that last money place.  Brenda & Seward dropped out of 3rd place to fall down to 5th and is 11 points back of Marcie's team, but does have Mover & Shaker potential, as do most of the top 10 teams.

Is it too much to think that the Mover & Shaker team of the week can also be the goon team of the week too?  It was a piss-poor week for penalty minutes and Marcie's team continues to rack up the minutes, as they had 35 minutes to go with their 35 points, almost like they were scoring goals while serving time.  How crazy is this?

Her team was 10 minutes better than Stacey C.'s, whose team isn't even in the race.  All the supposed goon teams are taking an absolute licking and there might be little to no chance at catching this our leader.

Finally, a paragraph that doesn't involve our goonish Mover & Shaker!  Both Stacey M. and John S. did qualify for Week Twenty, as John did get his win in the weekend, thanks to Devan Dubnyk and the Minnesota Wild.

Week Twenty does appear to be a speed bump week, as there are only 39 game scheduled in the NHL, but there should be more than enough starts for each of these two to make it through.  It's going to take quite the cold spell to lose out on this and they might even split the pot, if they can both hold out with wins for the next seven weeks.

Next weekend!  We'll finally polish off the outdoor games pool.  The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins will go head-to-head and we'll conclude this mini-game.  There will be a pretty reasonable preview coming up this week, as Marcie's team looks to hold on with a 3-point lead, with a number of contending teams coming for hers.

NEWS AND NOTES

The rampant illness that is sweeping the NHL starts on Friday, with the scratching of Sabres forward Sam Reinhart and it cost him both Friday and Saturday's games for the Sabres.  He's still listed as day-to-day, which leads into Buffalo's mandated break, so he'll have ample time to recover for a return on Saturday in Colorado.

Reinhart's absence says more to the Basement Dweller nod than the goon pool for Troy, so it's not much of a talking point here.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz has officially suffered a concussion, which happened on Thursday night and currently, there is no timetable for his return.  He would officially be able to return, as per the concussion protocol on Saturday with the Stadium Series game, but right now, it doesn't sound very likely.

Schultz has been Jeremy's best defenseman this season with 39 points, so this comes as a pretty big hit to his team, which currently sits in 9th place.  Jeremy also has an outside shot at the outdoor games pool with Schultz in the lineup, so he will keep his fingers crossed.

Mike Green is back on the injury page?  No!  It's true.  The oft-injured defenseman has come down with that awful flu bug and he was decommissioned for the weekend, missing both Saturday and Sunday's game for Detroit.  He's day-to-day and the Wings play again on Tuesday night, home to the Islanders, so he'll likely be questionable right now.

Stacey C.'s 4th place team has had some success with Green, when he has been healthy, picking up 26 points in 49 games this year.  Chasing down the last money spot will need everyone healthy, so here's hoping that Green can get back.

More flu bug fun!  Drew Stafford of the Jets was held out of the lineup for Saturday's contest against the Canadiens, because of the bug and he is listed as day-to-day.  Following suit, Stafford also missed the Sunday back half over the weekend, so this flu bug has been rather devastating this season.  Jets are in Toronto on Tuesday, so we'll see if he's ready for that one.

Benson's team has fallen hard, now sitting in 13th place in the standings and the absence of Stafford was a helping cause to only 13 points in the week.  His team is 47 points out of the money and going in the wrong direction.

This weekend was costly to the Ottawa Senators, in the most extreme sense.  Bobby Ryan suffered a hand injury in the game against Toronto on Saturday night and he is expected to miss upwards of six weeks.  Then on Sunday, they lost both Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone to injury, Hoffman a lower-body injury and Stone a head injury, both leaving the game and not returning.  There's no immediate word on Hoffman or Stone on Monday morning, but it doesn't sound great, as the Senators have made a couple of recalls and roster moves will have to be made.

Ryan belongs to Wes, who has been riding a hot streak, but could face a bit of a cold snap with a major injury like this.  This goes double for Derek B., who has both Hoffman and Stone, as his team has been trying to climb into the top 20, but likely won't, if either/or/both are long-term injuries.