Monday, December 31, 2007

Week Fourteen Newsletter

As you may have noticed, it was a pretty busy week for the news. There were quite a few posts during the week, most of which have been injuries. They are certainly the scourage of the hockey pool world, not to mention all the other fantasy sports that are conducted in the world. If it weren't for injuries, however, the whole idea of gambling on sports would be very elementary.

Heading into 2008, the number of longer-term injuries are increasing, instead of just the day-to-day injuries that have players miss a game or two... maybe even three. Hernias, groin injries, head injuries, concussions, ankle injuries, broken bones, shoulder separations and such are all seemingly on the rise this season. That isn't to say that any other season hasn't had many injuries before this one, but this year started off fairly healthy and it just turned evil in the last few weeks.

Fortunately, for some teams in the Draft, they have managed to stay relatively healthy and may have had a few players on the news page for a few games here or there, but there have been a few teams that have been absolutely ravaged by injury. Like I had said before, it's all part of the gambling scene here... you play your cards and you take your chances.

The best statistics to look over to see how well you've done with injuries and such are your Games Played for skaters and Minutes Played for goalies. Before Friday's games (for all stats mentioned), Stuart leads all Draft teams with 428 GP, while Wes finds himself at the bottom there with 319 GP. That's more than 100 games difference... that's pretty huge. Chris, our leader in points has 401 GP for his skaters. In the crease, Ryan has the most active pair of keepers in Rick DiPietro and Miikka Kiprusoff and between them they have 4049 MIN. Second place, Wes, has 3571 MIN from Manny Legace and Evgeni Nabokov. In last place for Minutes Played is Marcus with 1113 MIN. Marcus didn't manage to get much luck out of his keepers and has had to pick up a couple new ones in Carey Price and Pascal Leclaire to try and recoup some minutes.

Usually when you're going over your lists at the beginning of the season, you should be looking at players that have played all 82 games or goalies that have gotten the bulk of the starts. Their potential for points is much greater. Try and avoid the players like Martin Havlat (Marcus), who are offensively gifted, but are huge injury risks. There are several players like that in the league.

On the flip side, there have been quite a few players to fall to injuries, who you wouldn't have suspected to run into those kind of troubles. Joe Sakic (Dennis) and former NHL ironman, Brendan Morrison (Box 7) were two of those players. They would have been good selections in October, but now they look pretty dismal going forward.

I suppose in conclusion, I think it's fair to say that injuries are bad. I don't really know if I really had much of a point with this Headline, but there were some interesting numbers to consider and maybe it gives you a little bit more of a hint for players next season.

Yeah, there's nothing better than a loaded question, right? I mean, was I really going to get answers beyond the gold medal for our boys in the Czech Republic? I really didn't think I would. I think that poll was mostly for counting votes more than anything. Sadly, it was only 7 votes that were registered... we're goin' back down in votes. Dang!

For this week's poll question, I have decided to move forward a little bit more on the injury topic I had in the Headline. How much concern do you give injury problems and reputations when you are selecting your pool players? This would go for both the Sheet and the Draft. Do you find yourself looking at the Games Played column in the stats before making your picks?

Moving out of the basement, for the time being, was Dale C. in Week Fourteen. His 24 points brought him out of last place and only now only sits 7 points out of 15th place in the Standings. At his worst point, Dale found himself behind 16th place by 25 points, but has now had some success with his Waiver Draft picks and some better play out of his original picks. He has also had the benefit of his competition suffering injuries all over the place.

Chris Osgood was his biggest contributor with 6 points in the week, while Nicklas Backstrom chipped in with 5 points as well. He also had contributions from Christopher Higgins and Alexander Semin, both with 3 points each.

Greg D. was our Mover & Shaker in the Sheet pool for the week. He moved up the ranks with a solid 52 points, which moved him 3 spots into 22nd. In the last month, Greg has moved up 7 spots on a constant climb. I'm sure he's eyeing the Top 20 as we speak. He had contributions to his week from Dany Heatley (7 points), Jason Spezza (5), Daniel Alfredsson (5), Mike Fisher (5) and three others with 4 points. I don't think you can be too bad when you bank on the Senators during the season.

Falling out of the money in Week Fourteen was the other Dale in the pool. Dale B. fell from 3rd place to 6th in the matter of a week, with a pretty low 15 points in the week, while the teams around him were generally in the 30-point range. Dale finds himself 16 points out of the money now, which isn't insurrmountable at all, but it may take a couple weeks of good play... or a Mover & Shaker week. Dale had 8 active players with zero points in the week, including both his goaltenders. The new year will need to have some more consistent scoring, for him to get back into the money.

In the Sheet pool, it's the mean section between 23rd and 28th that is the most interesting. Between those spots, teams are only separated by 2 points. So, any slip up will drop you pretty quickly. Just ask Denis. His 38 points dropped him 4 spots to 24th, but he could just as easy go up some spots with a better week.

We have a returning champion of sorts in the Player of the Week column. Six weeks ago, we saw our week's best take the title for the first time in the year and now he's played well enough to be named it again.

Evgeni Nabokov (Wes) went 3-0 with a shutout in Week Fourteen, which gave him 8 points for the week. Nabokov beat Los Angeles on Wednesday; he shut out the Blues on Friday; and beat the Predators on Saturday. The NHL leader in Minutes Played is getting plenty of opportunity to win games and is keeping his back-up from any chance of taking his job away.

Nabokov was also named to the NHL's Three Stars for the week as well, which doesn't come as any surprise.

You would imagine when your teammate are firing on all cylinders, you would manage to scrape together a point or two for yourself. That wasn't the case for Daymond Langkow (Dale B.) in the week. He didn't manage to pull a single point in the week, despite Jarome Iginla's (Aaron) 4 points.

Other News and Notes

Bret Hedican (Box 22) and Matt Cullen (Don) will be missing time for the Hurricanes with a knee injury and broken nose, respectively. Both players missed Saturday's game for the Hurricanes and are expected to miss some of the games this week as well.

It just doesn't get any easier in Edmonton or for Dennis. Joni Pitkanen (Dennis) was crunched into the boards and will be doubtful for the Oilers' next game or two with a back & wrist injury.

The Habs were without their captain on the weekend. Saku Koivu (Jeff) missed the game on Sunday with the flu, but should be good to go later on in the week.

The Predators have been hit with some injury problems. They've been without Ryan Suter (Stuart) during the week with a leg injury and they lost David Legwand (John P.) to an upper-body injury on the weekend. Suter is a day-to-day scratch, but the extent of Legwand's injury is still unknown.

The Devils were without Patrik Elias (Clayton) on the weekend. He sat out of the game on Saturday with a groin injury. Elias has been an offensive disappointment this year, but there could have been some health issues hindering his play.

Gary Roberts (Box 21) left Saturday's game with a broken leg and will likely miss 6 to 8 weeks with the injury. Roberts had 15 points in 37 games before going down with his injury. I'm expecting a few drops... if he's actually on a team or two.

Randy Jones (Box 17) is listed as out day-to-day with a knee injury. Jones has been a pretty solid player for the Flyers this season and will be missed on the bench for the next couple games.

The Blues' new acquisition, Andy McDonald (Don), has been sitting out with a chest muscle injury. McDonald has actually played more games than his new teammates, so the rest is probably good for him right about now.

Winter Classic LogoSomething a little bit different for the match-up of the week... it's the Winter Classic that goes tomorrow (New Year's Day) in Buffalo. The outdoor venue is the Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, where the NFL Bills play their home games and crews have been working around the clock for about a week to get the whole thing ready. It really looks cool and it should be a fantastic game, weather permitting.

On the weekend, HNIC will have a couple interesting games. The up-and-down Flyers will match-up with the inconsistent Maple Leafs in the first half, country-wide, of the doubleheader. In the second half, the New York Rangers will visit Edmonton to take on the Oilers. The Ottawa feed in the early half will meet the Lightning... that would be the better game to see, but what can ya do?

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