Saturday, March 23, 2019

Goalie Announcements (Mar 23)

This week really didn't work in my favour for getting goalie posts up on the blog or even the notes posts, for that matter.  It's just been one of those weeks and if things are picking up in the office, like they have been, then I probably won't be getting as much up there in the last couple weeks of the season either, so don't come expecting too much.

Are there any races worth writing about?  The 2nd-3rd-4th and now 5th place race?  Stacey M. has opened her gap down to 3rd place to 5 points, as Grant has lost a bit of ground, but pulled 2 points away from Kristy & Don in 4th, but Jesse's team is making a late charge and sits in 5th, 8 points back of 4th and 18 points back of 3rd.  It's a long shot, but still there.

14 points separates 7th to 14th in the standings, as Wes holds down the 7th place spot and is only 4 points up on Neil's 8th place team.  This is a good race, which holds four top 10 spots in its grasp and a top 10 spot this year is a pretty good accomplishment.  That's not a bad race to watch.

Otherwise, it's the weekly scoring races, where Jesse's team is charging at 27 points at the start of play today, with three teams only 3 points back to start.  Mike's team currently holds the Basement Dweller spot, but 4 points has him within five teams, so that race is long from over.

And of course, it's my first goalie post since Tuesday and I get a day with 14 games on the schedule, with a couple of early morning/afternoon starts, so it's time to put on my best guess helmet and get to work.

Darcy Kuemper (Neil) versus Mackenzie Blackwood (N/A)
One of the early starts is confirmed this morning and Neil gets the only pool start between the Coyotes and the Devils in the swamp.  Darcy Kuemper looks to lift the Coyotes back into a wild card spot with 2 points this afternoon, starting play only 1 point out.  Neil wants to jump up to 7th place, if he can and Kuemper will help guide the way here with a clutch win.  The Devils are getting a bunch of injured bodies back today, so the test will be tough.

Robin Lehner (Chelsea) versus Carter Hart (Jeremy)
Only Carter Hart has been confirmed for the other early afternoon game today, when the Islanders take on the Flyers, so it was a best guess to say that Robin Lehner would be on the other side.  Jeremy's team has been in the hunt for the Mover & Shaker all week and he gets the first of two starts with this afternoon game, as his team tries to salvage something out of this season, as meaningless to his wallet as it could be.

Corey Crawford (N/A) versus Semyon Varlamov (Wilton)
There was no news about goalies in the Chicago/Colorado game, which is another afternoon start today, but not quite as early as the first two.  The Avalanche still have designs on the playoffs this year, 1 point back, and the Blackhawks are only 5 points back, but they have to climb over three teams to get in, including the Avs, so that will be tough on them, but it does make for a huge game for both teams.  I would imagine that this goalie match-up would be what we're looking for.

Craig Anderson (Mike) versus Mikko Koskinen (Tony)
Nothing 100% confirmed for the Senators and the Oilers this afternoon in Edmonton, but it did sound like Ottawa was leaning towards Craig Anderson, which is as close as we're going to get without confirmation.  That's good enough for me!  Mike needs the points and he's hoping for a huge spoiler game in Edmonton tonight for those 2 points, while the Oilers are clinging to the narrowest of hopes, 6 points out of playoff spot and they will have to run with Mikko Koskinen, you'd think... right?

Pekka Rinne (John P.) versus Connor Hellebuyck (Jeremy)
Nothing 100% confirmed, but look at these two teams... Nashville and Winnipeg?  Top two teams in the Central, playing for home-ice in the 2nd round of the playoffs, assuming that they get past their opening round opponents, so they should be going with their number ones tonight in Winnipeg.  I'm sure John and Jeremy are thinking the exact same thing.

Alexandar Georgiev (N/A) versus Frederik Andersen (Wilton)
Only one hockey pool start in Toronto, when the New York Rangers take on the Maple Leafs.  Wilton's team gets another start from Frederik Andersen, as his team looks to make up some of those gains he's had since acquiring Andersen at the Waiver Draft.  His team was up to 8th place at one point, but has dropped down to 12th this week and starts the day 8 points back of 8th place and only 3 points clear of the basement.  Big game for him tonight.

Carter Hutton (Wes) versus Carey Price (Stacey M.)
The Montreal Canadiens are looking to hold onto their playoff spot tonight with a win over the Buffalo Sabres and/or some help elsewhere.  The goalie match-up is two pool teams getting the first of two starts tonight, as Wes' 7th place team will get a start from Carter Hutton, while Stacey M.'s 2nd place team gets a start from Carey Price.  Wes' team is only 6 points clear of the basement, while Stacey's team is 6 points back of the Mover & Shaker, not a bad coincidence, I guess.

Jaroslav Halak (Stacey M.) versus Sam Montembeault (N/A)
Stacey's second start of the night comes immediately in this post, as her Boston goalie has been tapped for the start tonight in Florida, when the Bruins take on the Panthers.  The Bruins are on the verge of punching their ticket into the playoffs and I think Jaroslav Halak and company are ready to get that job done tonight against a lesser team in the Panthers, who are running with their rookie keeper once again.

Devan Dubnyk (Wes) versus Petr Mrazek (Stacey C.)
This game is completely confirmed in the morning, as the Wild will travel to Carolina to take on the Hurricanes.  Devan Dubnyk has been tapped to go on back-to-back nights, coming off a win against the Capitals and lifting the Wild into that last wild card spot before the start of play today.  Wes looks to build on his gap from 7th to 8th with this start, while Stacey C. gets a start from Petr Mrazek and the home side, as the Hurricanes look to solidify their spot in the playoffs and Stacey's team starts 7 points back of the Mover & Shaker, looking to close that gap.

Andrei Vasilevskiy (Dale C.) versus Jordan Binnington (N/A)
The Blues have confirmed their rookie wonder goalie as the starter already today, but the Lightning, who don't have a whole lot to play for are likely to keep their number one guy sharp with a start for Andrei Vasilevskiy.  The Russian hasn't had the biggest workload this season, thanks to injuries earlier in the year, so they're not too worried about burning him out just yet.

Matt Murray (Scott) versus Anton Khudobin (Grant)
The Dallas Stars have confirmed that they will be going with Anton Khudobin tonight with the Pittsburgh Penguins in town, which is good news for Grant, as his team is chasing a team with two starts already on this post and his team is getting the short end of the stick, it would seem.  Dallas has a little bit of breathing room with their wild card spot, but they're in tough against a Penguins team that has been running pretty hot and will likely go with their number one, although that hasn't been confirmed.

David Rittich (Ryan) versus Jacob Markstrom (Chelsea)
If the Canucks were to make the playoffs, which is a long shot, at best, their likely opening round opponent would be the Flames.  In order to get there, they'll have to go through the Flames, which has been a favourable match-up for them this season, but 5 points and four teams to climb over, that's very improbable.  No confirmed goalies at the time of the publish button being hit, so we're going with the top dogs in this one.  There will definitely be some fight in this game, from both sides.

Jimmy Howard (Tony) versus Malcolm Subban (N/A)
I missed Jimmy Howard's new contract extension, giving him a 1-year deal with some incentives (35+ contract) this week and he'll get back to the net for the Detroit Red Wings, as they head into Vegas for a match-up against the Golden Knights.  Tony's team is in the running for the Mover & Shaker yet again, only 2 points back of the lead and I don't think he'll be leaning on Howard for those 2 points in Vegas, but it would be a nice surprise.  Assuming, not confirmed, that Marc-Andre Fleury still isn't ready to go from his injury, we'll see Malcolm Subban in net tonight.

Ryan Miller (N/A) versus Jack Campbell (N/A)
The Ducks played last night and the Kings are cycling their goalies, so this is my best guess for the late, late game, which is somewhat of a moot guess.  The Ducks seem rather likely to go this way, but the Kings could start Jonathan Quick instead, but there really is no value in it.  Brenda & Seward may disagree though... there's value!

Recent Contract Extensions (Mar 23)

Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara just turned 42 on the 18th and he got a belated birthday present from his club, a new 1-year contract extension on Saturday morning.  The deal will pay him a base salary of $2 million and he'll also have $1.75 million in incentive bonuses, including games played, making the playoffs and winning the Cup. 

The towering defender hasn't been all that impressive in the hockey pool this season, 11 points in 55 games, 151st among all defensemen in scoring, but Benson has stuck with him this year, so he'll get a nod on the blog.  As powerful as he is, the scoring numbers are down, but he'll still defend, which makes him very valuable to the Bruins.  It looks like a solid signing, moving forward.

Lightning's Gourde Banned for Two

This is another easy one for the NHL Department of Player Safety, as the picking of one's head is now an automatic 2-game suspension with the league's disciplinarians.  Yanni Gourde of the Lightning picked the head of Carolina's Jordan Staal on Thursday night and on Friday evening, the Player Safety group came down with a ban on the Tampa player, an open-and-shut case.

The suspension means that Gourde will now miss Saturday night's game in St. Louis and Monday night's game, at home to Boston.  He will be eligible to return for next Saturday's game, at home to Washington, after an extended break during the week.

The Lightning have already clinched the top spot in the overall standings this season, so there is no real peril in this suspension, if anything it is somewhat of a break for the forward, who has played in 75 games this season, registering 20 goals and 44 points in the process.  As of Saturday morning, he ranks 146th in pool scoring, a very impressive year.

John P. was actually very apt with his pick at the draft, taking the Tampa forward in the 6th round, 144th overall, getting an approximately bang on return for the forward, but unfortunately, that was one of his few excellent picks.  His team was unable to string it all together this season, now ranking 18th this year, 90 points out of the money.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Morning Player Notes (Mar 22)

The New York Islanders will be without forward Valtteri Filppula for the remainder of the regular season, as he has been sidelined with an upper-body injury, an injury suffered in Boston on Tuesday night.  Filppula's regular season was sub-par, even on a surprising team like the Islanders this season, posting 15 goals and 29 points in 71 games this season, only good enough for 281st in pool scoring, after Thursday night.  Jordan Eberle was also hurt on Tuesday night against the Bruins, suffering an upper-body injury, but he only missed practice on Wednesday and was able to play on Thursday night against the Canadiens.

Neil's team is looking for a top 10 finish this season and currently sits in 8th, but his team is the one with Filppula and now he's down a man for the remainder of the regular season.  Currently, his team is only 6 points clear of 11th, which is his arch-nemesis in the pool, Ryan.  Chelsea has Eberle this season, but he too has been disappointing this year, despite playing last night, only 31 points in 70 games.

On Wednesday night, the Washington Capitals lost defenseman Michal Kempny to a lower-body injury, playing against the Lightning.  Not much has been released on his status, even by this time on Friday morning.  When the injury occurred, it didn't look good, slamming into the boards and down onto the ice, close to the Caps' bench and then he was helped off, it would be some kind of a miracle if he was good to go again before the end of the regular season, but don't take my word for it just yet.

John P. will remain hopeful that there is still a few miles left in Kempny's game, while his team sits comfortably in 18th place.  The 9 points to 17th and 15 points to 19th is a pretty good cushion on either side and his team is around the pool average this week at 13 points.

It was a busy night on Thursday night for this blog post, which is where most of the writing will come from, starting with the Blue Jackets giving Sergei Bobrovsky the night off. Instead of having him go through the motions of getting his gear on, just to sit on the bench, he was a healthy scratch and the team let Keith Kinkaid ride the pine instead. The coaching staff suggested that he was nicked up a bit, but it's likely a scheduled night off, which there won't be many left, as the Jackets fell out of the playoff picture with their loss last night and a Montreal win.

If it was a scheduled night off, then Kristy &  Don didn't exactly lose a start, but they see their team consistently losing ground to 3rd place, already dropping 5 points this week and are now 13 points back.  Still manageable, but they'll need Bob back in a big hurry.

The Dallas Stars are still tinkering with their lineup, despite being in a wild card spot in the west, as Jamie Oleksiak was given another night off from action on Thursday, when the Stars took on the Avalanache. Oleksiak was a healthy scratch, as Taylor Fedun returned to the lineup after missing a game for personal reasons. The big defender was reacquired by Dallas at the deadline for blueline depth and the Stars are using that depth, cycling through these guys night after night.

Brian's 17th place team has been taking plenty of hits of late and no one wants to see their players sit as scratches at the end of the year.  Brian's team still sits 4 points back of 15th, so there is still movement potential, his players just have to play is all.

The New Jersey Devils have been going through the motions for a little while now, so the ins and outs of the lineup are not nearly as substantial for them, from a standings perspective, unless they are desperate to improve their lottery standing. Last night, they were without both Kyle Palmieri and Will Butcher, upper-body and illness, respectively.   Both players are considered to be day-to-day and the team likely won't push for their returns, as they are getting some looks at other kids in their organization, while they have players sit out.

Neither Brenda & Seward or Benson want to see their players sit out, but I guess it's not really up to them.  The duo are trying to catch Benson for 21st place and they finished the night 15 points back, already having made up 3 points this week.  It's a bit of a stretch, but not impossible.

The Ottawa Senators have been going through the motions long before the trade deadline and they too have been able to scout some of their young talent with players coming out of the lineup. On Thursday in Calgary, they were without forward Chris Tierney, due to illness, and Cody Ceci, due to an upper-body injury suffered in Vancouver the night before. It isn't believed that either situation is all that serious, both are day-to-day, Tierney likely back for Saturday's game in Edmonton, while Ceci is still up in the air.

The loss of Tierney is another hit to Brian's team this week, which is still 6 points clear of the basement this week, while Ceci is a loss for Ryan's team, faring much better at 17 points this week.  Ryan's team sits only a point out of the top 10, so he's waiting anxiously for word on one of his key defenders.

We can add Logan Couture's name to long laundry list of names that have missed time for the San Jose Sharks and there was a large contingent of talent on the shelf, when you add his name to it, thanks to the flu bug taking a big bite out of him. Couture wasn't able to play against the Kings last night and the Sharks suffered a 4-2 loss, already without Joe Pavelski and Erik Karlsson to injury.  The Sharks' hopes of winning the Pacific Division took a bit of a hit with the loss, now 5 points back of Calgary with eight games remaining.

Even without Couture last night, Stacey C.'s team has been good this week, already posting 20 points and is currently eyeing up a top 10 spot, now 14th and 4 points back.  The Sharks play again tonight in Anaheim, so there's a chance that he might miss this game too, given he was such a late scratch last night.

A couple of notes from the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday, as the team opted to scratch defenseman Colin Miller for their game against the Jets and there didn't appear to be any complaints about that on the ice, as Vegas shut out Winnipeg by a 4-0 margin.  The Knights have not been afraid to cycle their defensemen this year, no matter where they may rank on paper for some people.  Also, in the game, Max Pacioretty left the game in the 1st period, not to return, with a lower-body injury, and it's believed to be a knee issue.  There was no word on the injury from the team after the game and Vegas plays again Saturday night with Detroit in town.

Miller's scratch did have an effect on Jeremy's team, missing a skater game, but Jeremy's team is in the thick of the Mover & Shaker race with 24 points, only 1 point back of the lead, but his team still sits 19th overall.  Pacioretty belongs to Stuart's 1st place team, but the 50-point lead may shrink a little, but not too much, if the Golden Knights rest one of their stars ahead of the playoffs.

Flames forward Sam Bennett left last night's contest against the Senators with an upper-body injury.  Bennett left the game in the 2nd period, not to return, but the Flames still handily took care of Ottawa without him, finishing with a 5-1 win.  No word on the injury after the game, but there are reports that the rugged forward has been dealing with an issue of late, but the team wouldn't confirm if this injury was related to that.  He'll be day-to-day moving forward and likely in for a rest.

Troy's team isn't going to get off scot-free in this long post, as his team sits in 9th place, 4 points back of 8th and only 1 point up on 10th, with some injury concern of his own again.  Bennett has been only mediocre since he was picked up in the first player swap this year, picking up 17 points in 43 games.

Finally, a goaltending concern in Winnipeg, as Laurent Brossoit was pulled from his start against the Golden Knights on Thursday night, due to a lower-body injury.  He was already down 3-0, allowing that lead on only 18 shots against.  It could have been considered a mercy pull, but the coaching staff did confirm the injury after the game, so it will likely be a call-up to start backing up Connor Hellebuyck, as the Jets look to clinch a playoff spot here in the next few days.  We'll consider Brossoit day-to-day for right now.

A second hit to Benson's team on this post, losing out on a goalie now as well too.  Brossoit was a pick up in the second swap this season and has posted 6 points since.  Benson's team is going to be hard pressed keeping that 21st place spot, if his players aren't playing.