Saturday, March 17, 2018
Sonofabitch! I'm in a rush to get this post done and I lost a good chunk of writing, 45 minutes before I wanted to get this post done. Okay, now I have to work faster.
So, we're going to look at the top five teams vying for the Mover & Shaker this week, which has the difference of 7 points from top to bottom, which is still a pretty close race. The NHL schedule gets started nice and early, so we'll be playing a pretty good guessing game, although, a number of teams have already confirmed this morning.
Troy's team continues to lead the weekly scoring race, going into the weekend at 34 points, while Tony sits at 31 points, Eric's team has 29 points, followed by Stacey M.'s squad at 28 and Clayton's at 27 points.
Cam Talbot (Wes) versus Roberto Luongo (Stuart)
Well, if Troy's team is going to defend its lead in the Mover & Shaker race today, it will have to do so without representation in the crease, as his only possible start is being taken by Stuart's goalie. Roberto Luongo is getting the nod over James Reimer today, when the Panthers take on the Oilers in one of the afternoon games. There is a race worth mentioning here, as Wes currently holds down the Basement Dweller spot after Friday night's action and he gets a Cam Talbot start, as his team is 1 point back of Wilton for 24th in the week.
Mike Condon (N/A) versus Sergei Bobrovsky (Derek B.)
Well, Tony's team really clawed back some points in the Mover & Shaker race last night, partly because both of his goalies played last night, both earning wins. So, in saying that Ottawa isn't likely to play Craig Anderson today. Derek B.'s team wasn't going to feature in this post, but with this game being what it is, his team is 8 points back of the Mover & Shaker and he should get a start, since the Jackets are in a playoff crunch, trying to stave away all comers, so Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to go again tonight.
Tuukka Rask (Clayton) versus Andrei Vasilevskiy (Wilton)
Eric's team, 3rd in the weekly standings, also doesn't have a goalie playing today, but this game falls into the lap of Clayton's team, which is supposed to be featured, so that's a happy coincidence. The Bruins are trying to catch the Lightning in the Atlantic Division standings, so this game has some significant meaning in the playoff race, which means both teams will be going with their number ones, Tuukka Rask against Andrei Vasilevskiy. Wilton could really use the points to stay out of the Basement Dweller and he'll be relying on the best player in the pool to do so today.
Alex Lyon (N/A) versus Cam Ward (Stacey M.)
The last game worth featuring in today's post sees a start from Stacey M.'s goalie in Carolina, Cam Ward. The Hurricanes open up back-to-back days with a game hosting the Flyers, which means Clayton's other goalie, the other Carolina goalie, will go tomorrow. Ward and the Hurricannes get the Flyers' number four goalie today, as the Flyers are opting to give Petr Mrazek the tougher game of their back-to-back set, tomorrow against Washington. This game certainly won't be easy for Ward and the Hurricanes, but it might still be a good shot for Stacey's team to pick up 2 points.
Happy St. Patrick's Day all... time for a Guinness, right?
The Edmonton Oilers are not expected to have Kris Russell in their lineup today, when they visit the Florida Panthers in an afternoon game. Russell blocked a shot in the team's last game, Wednesday night's loss to the Sharks, suffering the injury. Russell didn't practice on Friday and the coach confirmed that he was very doubtful to play tonight. The veteran defender has played in 68 games this season, picking up 4 goals and 21 points, ranking 76th among all defensemen in pool scoring.
Is 'the race for the equator' something? I think Derek B. wanted to make it something, as his goal for his team is to finish in 13th and that's where his team is right now, after Friday night's action. 4 points back of 12th and 3 points up on 14th, his team has a tiny little bubble in the middle and that must make him so happy.
Joonas Donskoi of the San Jose Sharks was an afternoon scratch on Friday, ahead of their game in Calgary, as he too was hurt on Wednesday night in the game against the Oilers. Donskoi suffered an upper-body injury and wasn't able to dress for last night's game. He's currently believed to be day-to-day, but that can certainly change as we move forward, since we haven't heard much in the way of an official word yet from the team.
For Eric's team, Donskoi has just been mediocre, since joining in the Week Nine player swap, only picking up 18 points in 39 games since his activation. That is tied for 20th in scoring among players taken in that swap, which I suppose isn't too bad for the 27th player taken.
Finally, the Washington Capitals are likely holding their breath a little bit, as they await word on news regarding the arm injury that Evgeny Kuznetsov suffered on Friday night, in the team's 6-3 win over the Islanders. Kuznetsov was slashed while on a partial break, favouring his arm as he went down and left the ice, but there has still been no update on his condition. With the playoffs just around the corner, the Capitals could ill-afford to lose such a key piece.
Jeremy's season as been marred by injuries, so what's one more before the end of the year. For the team that sat in 1st place through Week Seven, the toll that injuries have taken on his team has seen it drop down to 20th place.
Friday, March 16, 2018
It's Friday! We're winding down Week Twenty-Four and it looks like we're in for a busy weekend on the NHL schedule. There's 24 games between Friday and Sunday night, so plenty of starts to be had and it should keep the Mover & Shaker race interesting, right?
Troy's team has been having quite the week, so far, already posting 30 points, through Thursday's action and his team is eyeing the season-best, 48 points, set by Stuart's team in Week Twenty. Unfortunately for his team, it doesn't have any starts today, so the chase is on from the crease for the other teams in the race.
Usually, we'd be looking at about 5 points back and ties for the teams I'd focus in on, but Troy's team has a 4-point lead on Stacey M.'s team and her team is the only one inside of that 5-point gap. Clayton and Derek B. are both 7 points back, while Tony's team is 9 points back and Eric's team is 10 points back. So, I guess that will be the five teams we'll focus on, since our leader doesn't have anything today.
Maybe this post isn't going to go very well... Stacey, Clayton and Derek don't have starts either. Damn.
Ben Bishop(Kristy & Don) versus Craig Anderson (Tony)
Thankfully, Tony has come to the rescue with a start from Craig Anderson and the Ottawa Senators tonight. The Senators open up back-to-back nights at home against the Stars, who will welcome Ben Bishop back to their crease tonight, after missing the better part of a couple weeks with a lower-body injury. Kristy & Don will be happy to get him back tonight, as they currently trail Tony's team by 10 points.
Jimmy Howard (Dale C.) versus John Gibson (Tony)
Neither goalie was confirmed at the time of writing this post, but it's fair to think that Tony will get a second start tonight from John Gibson and the hosting Ducks, as they take on the traveling Red Wings, who played last night, which means Jimmy Howard should be getting the nod tonight, since Jared Coreau was in net last night. The Ducks are currently outside of the playoff picture looking in and they'll want to take advantage of a floundering Red Wings team tonight.
Juuse Saros (Eric) versus Semyon Varlamov (Stacey C.)
With Pekka Rinne playing last night for the Predators, that opens the door for Juuse Saros tonight in Colorado. The Predators haven't been shy, when it comes to resting some of their best players, so this bodes well for Eric's goalie, as his team tries to make up 10 points for the Mover & Shaker this week. At the other end, Stacey C. gets another start from Semyon Varlamov and the Avalanche, as they try to retain their wild card spot in the west.
Maybe the question needs to be asked? Anything going on in the basement? No. Wilton's team is getting crushed, with only 3 points, so far, this week and no goalie starts tonight. What do you do, eh?
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Boy, it has sure been hard to sit down and get this blog post done. If it isn't one thing, it's definitely another and it's not unfair to think that now that the race is slowly peetering out into not much of anything, that the blog may not be needed nearly as much, except for Newsletters and such. Nevertheless, I think I should stay somewhat committed, even though work has made it a little more difficult, but for the right reasons (being busy), of course. So, we'll go with the dates and work our way down tonight, just for some quick updates. Nothing too crazy.
Two notes from the Calgary Flames' camp... forward Matthew Tkachuk was hurt on Sunday night, suffering an upper-body injury, has already missed Tuesday night's game against the Oilers and is already ruled out of Friday night's game, at home to San Jose. With the Flames right in the mix for a wild card spot, they likely miss the 49 points in 68 games worth of production he brings. The second note is a healthy scratch, as the Flames opted to sit Mark Jankowski for that game against the Oilers, likely due to a lack of production, only 2 points in his last five games, and there is no real guarantee that he draws back in on Friday, given that the Flames managed a 1-0 win on Tuesday night.
The injury to Tkachuk isn't great for Chris' team, which is in the dogfight for 4th place, while Jankowski's absence can now be considered par for the course on Ryan's 23rd placed team. Neither pool team are featured for the money, so we'll move on.
The Colorado Avalanche went into Thursday night's action in the last wild card spot in the Western Conference and they can thank Jonathan Bernier for a lot of that. Unfortunately, since Semyon Varlamov returned from injury, where Bernier shone brightest, the injury bug has really caught up to the backup keeper and he now sits for a second time, since his demotion to number two. This time it is a neck issue bothering him and as of Thursday night's action, this will be his second game on the shelf. He's listed as day-to-day, but it will be Varlamov's net down the stretch, so it isn't like he's really missing out on starts... yet.
I don't think Scott's team should be thinking they're comfortable in 24th place, they are only 9 points up on Steve's last place team, but if he had the possibility of Bernier possibly getting a game here or there, he'd feel much better about things.
A minor lower-body issue, irking Winnipeg Jets forward Paul Stastny, forced the newcomer out of the lineup against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, leaving the ice during the pregame skate and becoming a late scratch, but he did return to the lineup on Thursday night against the Chicago Blackhawks, so one game away is nothing to get too excited about in the end. It was a lower-body issue, so maybe it's something to consider, but maybe the Jets will take a closer look at giving him some rest soon, as they do look pretty comfy in a playoff position at the moment.
Neil's team currently sits in 16th, possibly eyeing the equator or even the top half of the standings, so the return of Stastny is great, but there is a pretty good chance that he will see more time on the shelf before the end of the season, if this lower-body issue continues to nag.
I have got to think that the New Jersey Devils are both licking their chops at the potential of returning to the playoffs, but humble enough to know that there is still lots of work to do. Heading into Thursday night's action, they only held the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, so it should have come as no surprise that Jesper Bratt was made into a healthy scratch on Wednesday night, trying to keep the rookie forward on his toes for the stretch run. Bratt has been good this year, but could do more to earn his coach's trust, as his ice-time hasn't been great in his last five games.
This is another young scratch on Ryan's team, which doesn't necessarily mean a whole lot to the money race, but I don't think he wants to see his team drop down to 24th or 25th before the end of it all.
Leafs Nation is certainly holding their breath about the status of their number one goalie, Frederik Andersen, as he was forced from Wednesday night's game against the Dallas Stars, after a collision with Alexander Radulov. Andersen left the game in the middle of the 2nd period and didn't return. The Leafs coaching staff didn't seem to exude much in the way of pessimism about the injury, citing that the team was on back-to-backs between Wednesday and Thursday night, so it wasn't going to be his start tonight against the Sabres anyways. He's listed as day-to-day, but Garret Sparks is now up with the team, acting as backup.
If I heard this correctly, there is a bit of a side bet between the table mates, Mike, Troy and Stacey C., as they all work together and Mike's lead among the trio is now in jeopardy, if Andersen isn't fit to play for a little while. Mike's team only led Troy's side by 4 points heading into tonight's action and no points have been entered while writing this post. So we'll see before too long, I gather.
The Boston Bruins comfortably hold 2nd place in both the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference, heading into Thursday's action, so being cautious with injuries is definitely in their best interest. Both Jake DeBrusk and Zdeno Chara were held out of Thursday's contest with the Panthers, as both were dealing with upper-body knocks, suffered earlier in the week. It doesn't sound like either will feature over the weekend either, but there certainly isn't any rush for the Bruins to get them back
In this case, it's Cam and Steve, respectively, missing out on some games and Steve missing out on Chara games could be either a benefit or problematic for the plus/minus pool, where Chara had been brought on to be a positive influence, but has only been a -1 since being activated. Does missing him help Steve or the contrary?
The Florida Panthers are on the outside of the playoff race, looking in, 5 points back of the Devils, the first team outside of the race. The time for scoring goals is now and that's probably why tough guy Micheal Haley was scratched from the lineup against the Bruins, as the Bruins are out to win more games, maybe straying from the nonsense, while the Panthers should be too. It's hard to say where Haley fits down the stretch, but if the Panthers want more offense, they might sit the tough guy more.
Wes really wanted that PIM pool win this year, even though there's no money in it, hence the inclusion of Haley in this blog post. Unofficially, Wes' lead was 77 minutes heading into tonight's action... I don't think there's any cause for concern here either.
It sounds like the rest of the regular season is now a write-off for Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon, who is now believed to be out a minimum of four weeks with a partial tear in one of his hamstrings. The veteran defender was hurt on Tuesday night against Colorado and further tests concluded the diagnosis. The Wild certainly hope to have him back and ready to go for the playoffs, to which he could still miss a couple of games in the opening round, if he needs the entire four weeks, with the possibility of more time missed. Spurgeon played in 61 games this season, scoring 9 goals and 37 points.
The Nashville Predators are also in the business of announcing a player has likely finished his regular season prematurely, as Calle Jarnkrok has been given the rest of the regular season off after suffering an upper-body injury on Tuesday night as well. Jarnkrok was seen leaving the Bridgestone Arena with his arm in a sling, which usually tends to lend the diagnosis to a shoulder injury, possibly just a decent sprain, and he could also be back in time for the playoff run in Nashville. His season finishes at 16 goals and 35 points in 68 games played.
Well, that's a pretty crappy finish for Dale C.'s team, with still 3+ weeks left in the year, dropping two players at the snap of a finger. His 12th placed team has been managing okay through this week, having already picked up 11 points, but with five teams within 10 points of his, heading into tonight's action, being in the top half is now on shaky ground.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones has been earning the respect of many through a fantastic 2018 campaign, but after scoring a pair of goals against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night, he left the game with an upper-body injury in the 3rd period and was held out of the remainder of the game. There didn't appear to be any update on his condition, first thing this morning, so we'll keep you posted if anything major drops.
Jones has been a pleasant surprise this season for Derek B., who thought he may have picked up the defenseman a little too early, 96th overall in the 4th round, but he has rounded out to be just that good, ranking 98th in pool scoring after his pair of goals last night, giving him 15 tallies and 48 points in 70 games. Excellent numbers, really.
Montreal Canadiens forward Phillip Danault was already playing hurt, before taking a high stick in Saturday's contest against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The second injury seemed to be enough to either exacerbate the first injury, believed to be a neck issue, or be enough to actually keep the two-way forward out of the lineup. Nevertheless, Danault didn't dress against the Blue Jackets, missing out on the 5-2 loss.
No breaks for Mike's team these days... or this season. Mike's team ranks 23rd in skater games played this year with 718 to his team's name. The overall leader in the category is Troy's team, which has 810 games to his credit.
The Ottawa Senators will be on their current road trip through the state of Florida without forward Mark Stone, as he is now nursing a leg injury, which he suffered over the weekend. The Senators have not been very good as a team this season, despite Stone's decent season, where he has posted 20 goals and 62 points in 58 games, ranking 41st overall in pool scoring. There's no official word, as to whether or not Stone will be back in the lineup, once the Senators return home from their trip.
A long-term injury might be devastating to Dale B.'s season, as he has held a spot in the money for quite a while now. Dale's team has a 50-point buffer to play with to 4th place, but 3rd place might be another story altogether. Stone is only day-to-day, for now, so it is probably nothing to get too excited about.
Finally, Brad Hunt was a healthy scratch again for the Vegas Golden Knights, when they took on the Flyers, as Nate Schmidt returned from injury. The Knights have been rotating defensemen, when they have been healthy and Hunt has been one of the regular casualties to that rotation.
This was another scratch to Derek B.'s team, which currently sits only 6 points out of 11th place, currently the best spot he could possibly achieve, if his team kept around the status quo and didn't play out of its skin.
Monday, March 12, 2018
It's a late edition of the Newsletter this week, I didn't get up in time to get it done bright and early... frankly, I didn't want to. So, here we are... a later edition. Can you believe, there are only a few more of these left to go this season?
For some reason, I'm not sure if it was a coincidence or not, but I was asking myself if there was ever a player that was injured in a week and still ended up with a Player of the Week nod. I can now confirm that yes, that has happened, because it had happened this week. Brad Marchand of the Bruins did not play on Sunday, because of an upper-body injury, but still had enough in the tie-breaker against Evgeni Malkin to take the title of Player of the Week for Week Twenty-Three.
In three games this week, Marchand finished with 4 goals and 4 assists to take his second title of the season, the first coming back in Week Sixteen. He opened the week with a hat-trick and a pair of assists against the Red Wings on Tuesday, followed that up with a goal against the Flyers on Saturday and then a couple of assists against the Blackhawks on Saturday, before succumbing to an upper-body injury for the second half of a home-and-home against Chicago on Sunday.
This now brings his season totals up to 29 goals and 69 points in 53 games this season, good enough for 21st overall in pool scoring, just within the range of being a 1st round pick, if we were to do the draft all over again. That's a pretty good return for Cam and his team, which selected him 32nd overall in the 2nd round at the draft in September.
There doesn't appear to be any stopping Stuart's team now, it is rolling along like a juggernaut at the top of the standings. A 36-point week was not matched and barely challenged, once the weekend and sprung up. His team was 4 points better than Neil's team in the week, his closest competitor, once the dust had settled.
Having the other nominee for the Player of the Week certainly helped, as Evgeni Malkin has been running really hot of late, also finishing with 8 points, but only scoring 3 goals to fall to the wayside for top billing on the Newsletter.
Both Sidney Crosby of the Penguins and Roberto Luongo of the Panthers each had 6 points in the week, while Torey Krug of the Bruins had 5 points and Keith Kinkaid of the Devils rounded out the major scoring with 4 points.
Stuart's team has been riding an incredible wave, leaving everyone in the dust since the start of the third segment of the season, now having already posted 178 points through the first five weeks of the final segment, 19 points clear of the next two teams on the list and his team had already started the segment in 1st place, so it has since become quite the runaway train. Both his forwards and goalies (Luongo and Kinkaid) lead the pool in positional scoring in this segment and I don't think that there is any team out there that can catch his team in the last four weeks, barring a meteor strike that knocks out most of his team.
The race for the Basement Dweller was hotly contested by a number of teams, as two teams finished with 16 points in the week, while six more teams were only within 3 points of the bottom ranks. Still, we need to have ourselves another tie-breaker, Dale C. versus Stacey C. for the right to bring their sleeping bags down to the lower depths of the week.
The great tie-breaker... goals scored! The two sides were tied, 6-6 in goals scored... so, now we move on to wins! Oh no... both teams failed to register a win now too! How rare is this? Well, next up on my own ranking tie-breaker... is games played! The most representation in the week, saves itself from shame. In the skater games department, by a margin of 33 to 32... Stacey C. is free and clear and Dale C. gets to bunk in the basement!
With all that tie-breaking, I'll just inform you all that Dale's team was led by Phil Kessel of the Penguins in the week, finishing with 4 points, but no points from his goalies and three other skaters were really holding his team back, pulling it into the basement for the week and will need a bounce back week, if his team wants to finish in the top 10 by the end of the year.
The race for the trophy (and the money) continues to spread itself out thin and there really isn't a whole lot of intrigue left in it. Stuart leads Dale B.'s team by 29 points now, Dale leads Benson by 18 points and Benson leads Grant in 4th place by 35 points. This is quickly becoming how the top three are going to finish... again, barring that meteor strike.
At least, that makes the Newsletter a little easier to write. Boring to read, but easier to write.
At least the Plus/Minus pool still has a little bit of intrigue left in it, as Steve's team has given up a giant lead it once had, even giving up the lead in the middle of the week, but did recover enough to retake the lead for the Newsletter write-up. Steve's team finished with a +1 rating in the end after Sunday's action, while Dale B.'s team finished with an even rating, still sitting 3 points back. Brian's team came on strong in Week Twenty-Three, finishing with a +7 rating combined in the week and now sits 10 points back of the mini-game lead. That's pretty interesting.
Wes' team has put down another solid effort in the week, 16 minutes worth of penalties kept his team's lead at a healthy 82 minutes over Grant's 2nd place team. Both Neil and Stuart shared the goon team of the week nod, each posting 21 minutes of penalties, in what was somewhat of a lame week for trips to the box. The pool only combined for 284 minutes in total, the 3rd-worst week of the season. Where's the fun in that?
The rookie race has perked up a bit, now that it is a 3-team race to the finish. Cam's team of freshmen posted 9 points in the week to take the overall lead in this no-prize mini-game, as his team now leads Chris and Clayton's team by 4 points, 99-95-95. Jake DeBrusk of the Bruins and Will Butcher of the Devils were Cam's meal tickets to the big week and the 4-point lead.
Week Twenty-Three was a dud week in most every statistical category. Points were low... a combined 573 between all 25 teams. Participation levels at both the skater and goalie positions were also down and I've already noted that the penalty minutes were significantly down... it's like everyone is now coasting to the finish.
Is it time for the playoffs yet?
NEWS AND NOTES
Did you read about Brad Marchand's upper-body injury in the Player of the Week paragraph? I'm probably not going to repeat much more of that, since we've already seen it. He's day-to-day, that's about all we know anyways