Friday, April 17, 2015

Player Notes in the Playoffs (Apr 17)

You don't normally expect to see a trade deadline acquisition sitting in the press box for Game 1 of a playoff series, but James Wisniewski was the odd-man out for Anaheim's opening night match-up against the Minnesota Wild, deemed a healthy scratch for the game.  Wisniewski only posted 5 assists iin the 13 regular season appearances in Anaheim and with their depth on the blueline, someone had to sit, so it all added up... not really in his favour.

This becomes the biggest news of the day, as Wisniewski was taken 10 times in the pool, leaving nearly one-third of the entries high and dry.

There were some notes left behind from opening night in the playoffs, one from the Pacific Division series, as Calgary opted to have rookie Sam Bennett dress against Vancouver, sitting veteran forward Mason Raymond, the Flames' Box 7 representation.  With the Flames earning a 2-1 win in the game, there is a pretty good chance that Bennett will get the nod ahead of Raymond in Game 2 as well, which leaves a pool option on the shelf.

One team had made the move to pick up Raymond in the pool, Mike S., who hasn't gotten off to the best of starts in the playoffs, sitting in 33rd position and in need of some immediate help.

The Blackhawks had already announced that they were scratching forward Antoine Vermette for Game 1 of the series against the Predators, but then they turned around and scratched defenseman David Rundblad as well, which may come as less of a shock, given he was a scratch from time to time in the season, but I think there was some indication that his game was turning around, just in time to stick to the lineup for the Blackhawks.  Nevertheless, the Hawks were able to secure a double-overtime win on Wednesday night, so there is a good chance that they will stick with the same lineup, Friday night for Game 2.

With 33 teams now entered in the pool, one team picked up Vermette, Scott G.'s first team, and one team picked Rundblad, Grant S., and both are hopeful that their players could figure into the Chicago lineup, as the unique players are the ones that make you the money in the end.

An updated list of injuries can be found here.

Perry Leads All on Night Two

We're going to start with the performance of the playoffs to this point, as the late game on Thursday showed a whole lot of dominance from the Anaheim Ducks in the 3rd period, namely from the top two superstars on the team.

With the Ducks down 2-1 to the Jets, heading into the 3rd period, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf turned their game up a notch, putting together three unanswered markers to finish the game, 4-2 to the home side, both figuring heavily on the scoresheet.

Perry finished the game with 5 points: 2 goals, 2 assists and the bonus point for the winner, while Getzlaf had a goal and 2 assists himself.  If you went heavy on Anaheim, you would have been rewarded well for your selections.  Defenseman Sami Vatanen also had a goal and 2 assists, while Frederik Andersen picked up his 1st win of the playoffs, as that rounded out the notable scorers in the game.

The Ducks are the favoured team to come out of this series, as the current paid teams have a selection count of 68-32, in favour of Anaheim and they are now off to a blinding start.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled blogging.

The Rangers opened up MSG to the Penguins on Thursday night and that was about as welcoming as they would get, as some early speed put the blueshirts on top within the opening minute of the game, they tagged on another before the end of the frame and that was all they need, as their team speed, defense and superstar goalie got the best of the dysfunctional side from Pittsburgh.

Since scoring was at a premium in this one, a 2-1 final for the Rangers, there wasn't a lot of notable players to help boost the pool in this game.  Ryan McDonagh scored the eventual winner in the 1st period, earning him the bonus point, while Henrik Lundqvist made 24 saves to earn the win.

Lundqvist ended up being the most popular goalie in the pool, taken 16 out of 33 possible paid teams, as there is plenty of expectation that the Rangers could translate their President's Trophy season into a long playoff run.

The cagey veterans against the flashy youngsters... and there is a lot to be said about a veteran presence in the NHL playoffs. Just ask the Detroit Red Wings, who have been using such resolve for longer than most people can actually remember.  On Thursday night, it was just that kind of resiliency that helped the old dogs from Detroit slide past the Lightning in Tampa, 3-2, to take a 1-0 series lead.

When you talk about Detroit, you immediately start with Pavel Datsyuk, who was front and centre in this one, opening the scoring and then adding another before the puck even hit the ice in the 2nd.  Datsyuk's 2 goals were the only notable points for the pool.

Well, if anyone had picked up Jimmy Howard, it would be a much bigger deal that Petr Mrazek earned the start for the Red Wings in Game 1, but no one did pick up the veteran keeper, so there won't be too much made about the lack of points earned in the pool, because they won't show up in the standings.

In the other Western Conference game of the night, the Central Division winning St. Louis Blues got off to a rocky start against the wild card Minnesota Wild.  The Wild gave their new number one goalie what he needed early on in the game, a lead, as Devan Dubnyk stood tall for his side, making saves when he had to, a total of 19 stops, earning the Game 1 victory, 4-2.

The pool certainly prefers the Blues to make it out of this series, as the selections are 78-23 for St. Louis, but the Wild have their following in the pool and a Minnesota win could put a lot of pool teams down a few players, paving the way to a select few teams to motor up the standings.

Dubnyk wasn't the only one picking up points for the Wild on Thursday, as Zach Parise, Jason Pominville and Mikael Granlund, each came away with a couple points each, but Parise is the only one of the three with any selections... three to be exact.  Just for those asking, Dubnyk was taken... once.

The Blues were not without their notable player, as defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, taken seven times, had a pair of assists to help spur on his team.

Game-Winning Goals
New Playoffs Game Winner ButtonAs for the bonus points... Ryan McDonagh and Corey Perry were the only two players that counted in the standings for bonus points, as no one took Mikael Granlund in Minnesota and Luke Glendening in Detroit was not a option o the selection sheet.

Four teams are now leading the pool with a trio of bonus points to their names, Dale C.'s first team, Sean L., Tom H. and Sairosh have all picked them up in various combinations of the seven pool players to pick them up.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Night One is In the Books

And we're off! Four games kicked off the 2015 NHL playoffs and I'm still entering teams into the pool, so we'll have some final figures here soon, I think.

Montreal and Ottawa kicked off with a bit of a bang, as the two sides really showed some hate, as there were plenty of penalty minutes to go around, including a 5-minute major to pool favourite, P.K. Subban, for his slash on Sens forward Mark Stone.  Nevertheless, the red lights were flashing at both ends of the ice, as the Habs came away with a 4-3 win in regulation time.

Before Subban was booted from the game, he was one of two Habs with 2 points in the game, the other being the winning goalie, Carey Price, who made 30 saves for the win.  On the Ottawa side, Mika Zibanejad had a goal and an assist, getting made notable for his multi-point performance.

Both Subban and Price were pretty popular in the sheet, thus far, Subban having been taken 13 times and Price 10 times, while Zibanejad wasn't taken at all.

More on the Stone front, as the Senators announced that their rookie forward suffered a fractured wrist from the slash and his availability for Game 2 is now in question.  Subban isn't going to face any more supplemental discipline for the slash, but the Senators may be in a bit of trouble, if they don't have the scoring from Stone going forward.

Out of the paid teams that are entered in the pool, Stone has been taken once, so this does become news worthy of the results of the pool.

The New York Islanders are back in the playoffs and they want everyone to know about it, especially the Washington Capitals.  They were able to push three goals past Caps goalie Braden Holtby in the opposition's barn and they got off to a rousing start to their series with a 4-1 win.  It looks like the Capitals had the Islanders number in most statistical categories on Wednesday night, except for the most important one, which is the big numbers on the scoreboard.

Notable players from Game 1 at the Verizon Center are all Islanders, in case you were wondering, as Brock Nelson, Josh Bailey, Ryan Strome and Jaroslav Halak all came away with 2 points a piece.  The Islanders are the underdogs, as per the selections in the pool, so very few teams capitalized on these points.  Bailey is the most popular of the four, having been taken five times.

Scoreboard watching for the Chicago and Nashville was a lot of fun last night, as the Predators got up to a 3-0 lead before the end of the 1st period, forcing Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford from the game early on, but those Hawks are resilient and showed as such, coming all the way back in the 2nd period to tie the game 3-3 and then the two teams went on, all the way into double overtime for the finish.  There, it was Duncan Keith being the eventual hero in the game, scoring the winner and bringing Chicago all the way back for a Game 1 win.

Keith and Jonathan Toews were the big players in the game, each finishing the night with 3 points, kicking off the series, while Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane also had 2 points each in the win.  One notable player for the Predators, Colin Wilson had a couple of goals to get a mention in the blog post this morning.

Chicago is the clear favourite in the pool, which means that there are a number of teams who picked up points last night.  Kane is the overwhelming favourite though, taken 15 times and he made it worth their while.

Finally, it was a fast and furious game in Vancouver, as Game 1 between the Flames and Canucks was well fought, like a true playoff game. Like most tightly contested playoff games, it came down to the right bounces and seeing-eye shots in order to win and both teams had their share, but the Flames came away with a 2-1 win in regulation, taking a quick 1-0 series lead away from home.

Only two players of note in this low-scoring affair, as Kris Russell and Jonas Hiller each picked up a pair of points in the win, both taken by a few teams in the pool, two picks for Russell and five for Hiller.

The Flames are an overwhelming favourite in the pool this year and they got off to the right start.

Game-Winning Goals
New Playoffs Game Winner ButtonThe flashing red light is back for the bonus points and out of four games on opening night, three of them counted in the pool.  Ryan Strome, Duncan Keith and Kris Russell all got off the marks in the GWG column.

Sean L. in the pool is off to a blinding start here, as he had two out of the three bonus points and that helped him to a 15-point start in the standings, tied for 1st with Clint and David after one night.

An updated list of injuries can be found here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Player Notes in the Playoffs (Apr 15)

The Chicago Blackhawks are raising an eyebrow or two, as their coaching staff has announced that Box 4 forward Antoine Vermette is going to sit in Game 1, due to performance issues.  Vermette has certainly had the numbers this season to sit in the fourth box in the West, so it comes as a bit of a shock, but of course, things can change between Game 1 and Game 2, so stay tuned.

Vermette was taken once so far in the 14 teams submitted, so there is someone looking at this news and wondering what is going to happen, going forward.

Well, the Selection Sheet is taking a bit of a kicking early on in the goalie boxes, as it has been confirmed that Eddie Lack will start for the Canucks, instead of Box 12 placeholder, Ryan Miller.  Out of 14 paid entries now on the standings page, no one has opted for the Vancouver goalie, some may have already had the feeling that Lack was the guy or they are going for Calgary in the end.

On Thursday night, it has already been announced that the St. Louis Blues will go ahead with Jake Allen, instead of pool goalie Brian Elliott, who has been taken once in the paid entries thus far.  Of course, there is no guarantees that Allen will make it through the playoffs, but it does make for an interesting dynamic, especially given that the Blues coaching staff said that Elliott would be their number one, only a couple weeks before the playoffs started.

Opening Night Preview in the Playoff Pool

The second season starts tonight in four cities and with pool entries slowly trickling in, we'll have some changing previews as we go along, but the patterns have already started to emerge.

Today is the deadline for all the entries and if you're looking to get in, head over to my website and follow the large 2015 Playoffs link and it will get you to the rules and the sheet will be readily available from there.

One of two 5pm MT games getting started on Tuesday night sees the Senators invade Montreal to take on the Canadiens.  Everyone should be fully expecting to see some theatrics on the ice before the game and then fireworks through the game.

The early returns in the pool entries, now 11 teams in, sees the Habs as a clear favourite, as they have 27 of a possible 33 selections, while the Sens have 8 of a possible 33 selections, so there is a great expectation that Montreal is going to go a long way, according to my poolies.

P.K. Subban leads all Canadiens in selections with five, while the Senators selections have been fairly limited to Bobby Ryan, Clarke MacArthur and Erik Karlsson, as they all have two selections each.

Of course, these favourites are expected to change with a few more entries, which I should be receiving tonight and entering over the next few days.

In the other 5pm MT start tonight, it's the series that I'm fairly excited about and I kind of wish a few more people were excited about as well, as John Tavares visits Alex Ovechkin in a battle of superstars, as the Islanders head to Washington to take on the Capitals.

Out of the selections from the 11 teams, this series is a lot closer to call, as the Capitals have a slight 18-12 advantage in the picks.  This is a series that will keep a pool team in the race or throw a pretty good speed bump in front of it, trying to get to the end.

It looks like pool teams are expecting the winner of this series to do well, as the big guns are being taken, as Tavares leads Ovechkin, 4-3, in selections, while Nicklas Backstrom has the overall lead in Washington selections with four as well.

The Central Division 2-3 match-up gets going tonight in Nashville, as the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Predators in the start of a pretty interesting series.  This game will be a 6:30pm start on Sportsnet 360 and has some real potential.

According to the pool entries, this series is poised for somewhat of an upset, as the Blackhawks, who are the 3-seed, are clobbering the 2-seed Predators, 29-5.  If the Predators were to cruise through this series, it was be fairly devastating to the better part of the pool.

As it was noted last night, Patrick Kane was one of the favourites overall and continues to be with another team added, as he was selected six times, while on the Nashville side and their five selections overall, Ryan Ellis has two of those picks.

In the only late game on Wednesday night, the lunch pail Calgary Flames will meet the old boys in Vancouver, as the Canucks look to defend their house against the up-and-comers.  This game has a puck drop of 8pm and it will be on CBC tonight, but you probably already know that.

The early returns on this series are also saying an upset, as the Pacific Division 3-seed from Calgary has a 21-10 selection over the 2-seed Canucks.  Everyone is pretty high on the up-tempo game of the Flames, so it will be interesting to see how the Canucks respond to their game in a playoff setting.

T.J. Brodie remains a favourite for the teams picking Flames, as he has five selections to his name, while the Canucks' favourite, so far, in the pool is defenseman Kevin Bieksa.  Usually when a defenseman is a favourite for a team, the consensus is that neither team is expected to go past the second round of the playoffs, which seems fair, given some of the talent in the other Pacific Division series.

Remember, e-mail me your picks before puck drop tonight... unless you're meeting me at Kilkenny's tonight, then fill out a sheet there and I will take it home with me to enter.