We're now halfway through the season... only fifteen more weeks to go! We're now looking at the Standings in the pool a little bit closer on a day-to-day basis, not to mention the Standings for our favourite team in the league as well. The race towards the end of the season has officially begun!
Chris has still got the the lead in both pools, but it's only the Selection Sheet pool that he's running away with. The Draft has been a point of concern for our pool leader, as the lead has dwindled down to 19 points from a high of 28 points. His goaltending has been a tad suspect of late, which has kept him from getting big weeks on a weekly basis. In the Sheet pool, he still is carrying a lead of 37 points going into the second half of the season. There have been some big weeks behind him and it still isn't impossible for him to be caught there.
The rest of the money places are still far from decided. In the Draft, the top three are the money positions and despite second and third are already past the 400-point barrier, they haven't run away with it quite yet. John B. and Stuart have a little bit of separation from Benson and John P., but all it takes is a good week or two before the gap closes up.
In the Sheet pool, the top five are money winners and from 5th to 10th is only separated by 30 points. With 24 players on each team, it wouldn't take long to close the gap on 30 points at all either. In the Sheet pool, you should be making good use of your trades, if you can, to maximize your chance to get into a money position.
We're only half way, so whatever lead has been created has an equal opportunity to fall.
It was a bit of a surprise to see some people wondering how you can take injuries into account when looking at your potential pool team at the beginning of the season. Sure, you can't make bold predictions that some players will definitely be out at some point, but you should be able to put the odds in your favour. I mean, Bryan McCabe (Benson) always seems to find a way to sit out some games during the year... he's done a great job of it this season. He's still got a few weeks left to sit with a broken hand at the moment. Steve Sullivan (Ryan) is another guy who really likes to get hurt. Hell, he hasn't even played a game yet this season. Hockey pools are good fun, but when you're comparing your team to one that may not look too strong, maybe the players on a weaker team are meant to play more games, thus giving that team a greater chance for more points.
This week's pool poll will be the big question floating around most of the sport shows and highlight channels over the week. Now that we've hit the midway part of the season, who would be your choice for MVP?
The Sherpa could have easily chosen himself for the award, but he didn't move up one spot to increase his share of the prize money, despite the highest point total in the week. The second highest point total did shrink the lead that the leader had going into the week and John B. found his stride with 40 points and 2nd place. That will be deemed good enough for the M&S award for Week Fifteen.
John had huge contributions from Kristian Huselius (9 points), Dan Cleary (5), Dominik Hasek (4), Roberto Luongo (4) and three others with 3 points. He only had two players that were active on his team that didn't score a single point... everyone else seemed to be clicking for him in the week.
On the Sheet side, five teams moved up 2 spots in the Standings, so we'll have to go to a points showdown. The winner... Ryan M. with 72 points. He was the clear winner by 6 over Neil and 13 over Caterina. So Ryan is our winner and he made the bulk of his points through Kristian Huselius (9 points), Miikka Kiprusoff (8), Jarome Iginla (7), Daymond Langkow (7), Alexander Radulov (5), Sidney Crosby (5) and four others with 4. A M&S award does usually go to a team that put all their eggs in one basket... and that basket gets way too hot.
Well, it's pretty easy to see, thanks to so many injuries, that Dennis will receive this honour for the week. It was a third straight week of sub-15 points and now Dennis sits in last place after dropping the last two spots before 17th in a pool-season-low 10 point week. Thankfully for Dennis, now that he's dropped all the way down, there are very few more Dweller paragraphs with his name on it, because you can't really drop any further than this. It was players like Paul Kariya (0 points), Brendan Morrow (0) and Olaf Kolzig (0) who were the biggest disappointments, because they were all active in the week.
An eye-popping low of 30 points earns the Basement Dweller distinction for Scott G. in Week Fifteen. It was a low that dropped him one spot closer to the bottom as he now sits in 36th position, but still a clear 26 points ahead of 37th. Phew! Scott has a good portion of his eggs in one basket on the Sheet, but obviously he chose the wrong Western Conference team for this certain week. Instead of having the Flames on his side, he had the San Jose Sharks as his basket team and they haven't been as dominant as one may have predicted. Even the likes of Joe Thornton (2 points) isn't having his usual season thus far.
I'm guessing if you've made it this far in the Newsletter, you can probably figure out who our Player of the Week was already. Despite having several 8 point players during the week, the big 9 points this player had was a pretty big stand out... like a sore thumb, if you will.
The week began on New Year's Eve, where the Flames took on the Canucks at home. This was where our Player of the Week had the game winning goal and his only point. On Wednesday versus the Rangers, Kritian Huselius (John B.) had his biggest night of the week with a goal and 3 assists in the triumph over their Broadway opponents. On the Thursday, he managed an assist against the Sharks in their 3-2 overtime victory. Saturday in Los Angeles, he had a pair of goals and an assist as the Flames continued their winning ways.
The Flames are certainly riding their top scorers in this winning streak and it looks as though the team's success rides on their shoulders as the goaltending hasn't quite been what it used to be.
The Carolina Hurricanes are battling some inconsistencies of their own. Players who were hot once are ice cold at the moment. One name that really stands out is Cam Ward (Stuart). Ward didn't record a point in Week Fifteen. Most of that was because his poor play has made management call up minor league keeper, Michael Leighton (non-pool), for a couple starts. I would assume Ward will return to the Hurricane nets soon, but now that we're into the second half of the season, his play will have to pick up to keep his job, by the looks of things.
Other News and Notes
Later on this afternoon, we'll hear about the extent of the shoulder injury that Derek Roy (Don) suffered on Sunday afternoon versus the Thrashers. He left the game in the second period and didn't return.
On Saturday night versus the Los Angeles Kings, defenseman Adrian Aucoin (Box 11) was not in the line-up. As far as the Sherpa could see on Monday morning, it was nothing more than a healthy scratch, but since it hasn't been confirmed, you may want to stay tuned to find out what could possibly be the issue. Aucoin has become rather popular in the Sheet pool, taken 8 times.
I'm imagining that the return from a broken nose may have been premature for Matt Cullen (Don) or there may be a possibility of a concussion from the same hit that may have kept him out of the line-up on Saturday. There hasn't been any confirming report as of yet, but once there is, it will be posted. For now, he'll just be listed as a scratch.
Fueling the speculation of trade bait, Rangers defenseman Marek Malik (Box 22) was a healthy scratch yet again in Edmonton on Saturday night. The hulking defenseman has been finding himself in the press box more often than not of late and in all likelihood, he'll be dealt in the coming weeks for an upgrade on the blueline.
Offensive defenseman Joe Corvo (Chris) has sat out yet again for the Senators, which may crank the wheel of speculation as to what his fate may be in the ocming weeks. Corvo does have 18 points in 36 games and has had some success with the big line in Ottawa, but I have heard his name around in some rumours through the league. The Senators are reportedly actively shopping Ray Emery (Box 18), so you may see Corvo in the deal to make it all just a little bit sweeter.
It's pretty bad when your own teammate runs you over in a botched open-ice hit, but when Derian Hatcher (non-pool) ran over Joffrey Lupul (Don), it was a pretty hard thing to watch. Lupul will now be sitting out for an indefinite period of time with a bruised spinal cord and a concussion after receiving that big crunch.
It's yet another tough season for Leafs defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (John P.). Only 5 games into his return from major knee surgery in the off-season does he re-injure the knee on a collision in the game against Philadelphia on Saturday night. Reports are indicating that he'll miss at least a week, but it's quite likely he'll miss two. The Leafs also lost the services of Jason Blake (Clayton) to a sucker punch which closed up his left eye in the same game. Blake didn't practice on Sunday, but the coaching staff expect him to be able to play in their next game.
The Capitals were without defenseman Brian Pothier (Don) on Saturday due to a shoulder injury. Pothier has been underachieving this season, only having 14 points in 38 games, and possibly could blame a nagging shoulder for his poor offensive output. This now adds injury woes to Don's team, who now faces going into Week Sixteen with four injuries on the list.
Well, it didn't look like Mark Recchi (Box 15) was going to last much longer in the league, but his move to Atlanta was sure a good kick in the ass for the 39 year-old veteran. I'm sure playing with guys like Ilya Kovalchuk (Peter) and Marian Hossa (Dale C.) helps out as well, but what do they have that Sidney Crosby (Benson) or Evgeni Malkin (Dale B.) do not? Recchi could possibly considered for a pool team come Week Twenty, as he's now got 22 points in 33 games.
Just when we thought we'd be out of the woods with no Maple Leafs in the early game this weekend, we find them travelling to San Jose for the late game. Dammit. Anyways... the early game will be one hell of a match-up, as it's the best teams from both conferences going head-to-head in the early game. The Red Wings will cross the border to take on the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place and the Senators will have a measuring stick to compare themselves to when it comes to big opponents. It may not be out of the question to consider this game as a possible Stanley Cup Finals match-up, if the favourites are to play like it through the second half of the season and the first three rounds of the playoffs.
NHL, Hockey, Hockey Pool