Monday, November 03, 2008

Week Five Newsletter

Welcome to November, poolies! It sure has been an interesting opening month to the season, hasn't it? We've already finished five weeks and we've already seen a 50-point range from first to last in the Draft and almost an 80-point range in the Sheet from first to last. These deficits are not impossible to overcome, moreso in the Sheet than the Draft, I would imagine.

We've seen a flurry of trades in the Sheet pool, which can keep a team in the race for the whole season, especially now, since there is still 23 more weeks left to go. At the time of publishing the newsletter, there were 14 trades between six participants in the pool, while there were 13 trades for Week Five between five participants. Be sure to get your trades in... or you'll be left behind.

In the Draft, we are still a few weeks away from the first waiver draft in the Draft and in a week or two, there will be an available player list to be published on a regular basis, for those players not taken in the Draft. Stay tuned for that development.

Finally... don't be afraid to get on the Trash Talk page. It's all good fun... between trashing each other or just the Flames (tee hee). Don't be afraid to let rip...

Poll Question
The Poll Question in Week Five was 'who has been the biggest pool surprise so far this season?' I had picked out a few players who had done some good work in the first four weeks, some of which were bargains for where they were taken in the Draft or a guy like Mike Modano, who wasn't taken at all. During the seven-day week, the biggest surprise out of nine people was Alexander Semin, but only by a small margin. Paul Kariya was also thought to be a pretty good surprise as well.

For Week Six, we'll start to look at the available players for the Waiver Draft, which will happen during the duration of Week Nine. Which of these players would you take when you drop a player in the Waiver Draft? Brandon Dubinsky of the Rangers, Antti Miettinen of the Wild, Devin Setoguchi of the Sharks, Ryan Kesler of the Canucks, Mike Modano of the Stars, Martin Havlat of the Blackhawks or Todd White of the Thrashers?

It was another tight race to the finish for the Mover & Shaker award for Week Five. Eight of the seventeen teams finished with 30 or more points, four of which was 37 or better. There was only one team that was better than 37 points and that's our winner of the M&S for the week... it's Marcus! For his win this week, he's earned a Patrick Kane, Gamebreakers card, just like the one Clayton won last week.

Marcus finished the week with 38 points, moving himself up from seventh spot, up to fifth, and he is now only four points out of the money in the Standings. That's a pretty solid week for him.

Topping out his week was Tim Thomas (10 points), Mike Cammalleri (5), J-P Dumont (5) and Jiri Hudler (4). His team only had two zeros on it for the week, everyone else managed to get at least a point.

On the Sheet, it's pretty straight-forward finding our weekly recipients of note. The Mover and Shaker of the week on the Sheet was Mike Babineau, who finished with the best week with 76 points and moved up the most positions, from 32nd to 21st (11 spots). It's good news all around for him. His big players for the week were Miikka Kiprusoff (8 points), Simon Gagne (8), Carey Price (6), Henrik Zetterberg (5) and six others with 4 points.

Re-taking Basement duties in the Draft this week is Derek, falling to the bottom of the pack, 17th spot, with a very low 15 points. Derek has only managed one week over the 20-point mark, Week Three (with 26 points). Every other week, he hasn't even reached the 20-point mark, thus landing him truly in the basement. Amazingly, he still only sits behind 16th by a mere 3 points. Wyllie has run into some terrible luck, having no wins from his goaltenders, a player in the minors and two other zeros that were actually playing in the week (Mike Fisher and Mathieu Schneider).

In the Basement on the Sheet was Joe K., who finished with a week-low, 49 points, and moved down to 24th spot from 14th. A rough week there, as a lot of teams are finally finding their legs. Out of Joe's 32 players, 12 of them failed to register a point, while his highest point total player managed only 6 points (Evgeni Nabokov). Possibly a player trade or two may help Joe's team a little more in the coming weeks.

The Player of the Week scoring had plenty of candidates for the honour, five going into Saturday's action. The most remarkable thing about that was that three of the five were Anaheim Ducks. Was a Duck the eventual winner of the award? It did turn out to be an interesting finish to the week, so keep on reading to find out who did eventually win the honour.

Just to add to the anticipation, there were two players that finished with 10 points and two Ducks were eliminated from contention of the award. Only one remained... now to the tie-breaker! Arbitrary decision! Yay!

Well, it had to be Tim Thomas this week, since he was posting wins and shutouts and just being downright amazing in the week for Boston. Thomas finished the week with three wins and two shutouts for Boston, in what's supposed to be a goaltending rotation system with Manny Fernandez. It looks as though Thomas has stolen the number one position away from the platoon system and is going to run with it for a while. This means good things for Boston and for Marcus, our M&S for the week.

Shutouts on back-to-back night against Edmonton & Vancouver and then another win against Dallas on Saturday solidified his position as the best player in the week.

In a surprising turn of events this season, Marty Turco is having a terrifying year, so far only registering 3 wins in 10 appearances and hasn't been playing well at all. So much so, that the rumblings have begun about a goaltending controversy in the Big D, as Tobias Stephan has stepped in and played a touch better in his 4 appearances. It may be a little early to call for Turco's head, but it's getting kind of close.

Other News and Notes

The Atlanta Thrashers were likely going to sit Kari Lehtonen against the Devils anyways, as he's seen quite a few starts in a row for the team, but the team has listed him as out day-to-day with the flu, in order to miss the game on Saturday night. Lehtonen has played well this season for Atlanta, but the team in front of him has only helped him to win a pair of games.

The Thrashers also sat Erik Christensen from the game on Saturday night. Christensen has featured in 10 games for Atlanta, but has only managed to register three assists. A very poor start to the year, especially since he was one of the key pieces that saw Marian Hossa go to Pittsburgh. His benching will hopefully spark some more production in future games. Christensen is a Box 24 forward on the Sheet.

I thought Matthew Lombardi gave his upper-body injury a try this week and it's likely he did, but he's again been shelved for the Flames and the team has been playing very well in his absence. Lombardi has only featured in seven games for Calgary and only has two points this season. Far from his expectations on an improved team. As a draft pick of Ryan's, he'll likely be a candidate for a drop in the Week Nine Waiver Draft. Another injury that hit the Flames on Sunday was the loss of Robyn Regehr, who didn't suit up against the Ducks on Sunday, but we'll have to wait to see what the extent of the injury is.

On Saturday, versus the Oilers, Hurricanes forward Matt Cullen sustained a leg injury. He missed Sunday's contest against the Leafs because of the injury and is listed as being out day-to-day for now. This season, Cullen has registered 4 goals in 10 games for Carolina, yet hasn't been quite the offensive force that the team is probably used to by now. The injury doesn't sound serious, so don't be in a big rush to move him, but if you can sit him, you probably should.

Oilers defenseman, Denis Grebeshkov, was clocked pretty hard in their game against the Hurricanes on Saturday afternoon, having to leave the game with an apparent concussion. Grebeshkov is only a Box 11 defenseman, not taken in the Draft, and it's likely he wasn't even taken in the Sheet pool as well. A concussion will keep him out of the line-up for at least a week, likely a little bit more.

The Panthers recalled centre Shawn Matthias this week, only to have him play in one game, before their new signing, Jassen Cullimore, joined the line-up on the weekend. Matthias failed to register a point in his only game this week, before getting sent back down to the minors to hone his craft. There is a great deal of hope that he can get his game up to par this season, so he can start playing full-time in Miami.

The Panthers got hit with the injury bug yet again, as Cory Stillman left the game against the Thrashers with an undisclosed injury. If the injury is serious, the loss of Stillman could be somewhat devastating, as they are already without Stephen Weiss and and a number of defensemen. This could be the move that sees Matthias have a full-time job.

The Los Angeles Kings scratched both Derek Armstrong and Kyle Calder from their line-up against the Flames on Saturday night. There has been some significant issues with the Kings' older players this year, as they have had trouble staying in the line-up, while the younger players are working hard enough to play a significant part with the team. Armstrong, a Box 6 forward, has one assist in nine games for the Kings, while Calder, a Box 8 forward, has two points in five games. Both players are slipping out of favour with the Kings' coaching staff and could be prime trade bait come the deadline.

There is some injury news on the blueline for the Minnesota Wild. Already without Box 14 blueliner, Kurtis Foster, who suffered a broken leg last season and is on the road to recovery back into the Wild line-up, they lost Brent Burns, Grant's sixth round Draft pick and a Box 11 defenseman, in the warm-ups against Phoenix to an upper-body injury. Burns, until further medical review, will be out on a day-to-day basis. The Wild's blueline isn't the only thing hurting at the minute. Up front, Owen Nolan has been sidelined this week, with what has been called a lower-body injury. The Minnesota Wild have been one of those teams, enjoying the idea of not having to disclose the full extent of their player's injuries. Nolan is also considered to be out on a day-to-day basis.

The Habs once again sat defenseman Mathieu Dandenault on Saturday night, as the team doesn't really know whether or not to keep him on the side on a full-time basis. His importance has been questioned of late, as the team has a good core of young defenders, as well as some quality veteran presence, while Dandenault is sticking around as depth, in case of injury. That does beg the question, 'why did he even make the Selection Sheet pool list anyways?' In eight games with the club, he does have one assist.

The Devils recalled Matt Halischuk in the week, thanks to injuries to Jamie Langenbrunner and Bobby Holik this week, but since Langenbrunner returned to the line-up already, Halischuk has been moved up to the press box for the time being, likely to be sent down again, unless injuries continue to hit the team. Halischuk did register a point in his only appearance for the big club this week, which could have improved his chances at staying with the club for at least one more look.

There was an update on Martin Brodeur on Sunday. It has been reported that he will miss the Devils' next game on Monday. Brodeur will undergo an X-ray and MRI on Sunday to truly assess the time frame that the All-Star goalie will be out of action.

The Penguins feared that they wouldn't have Sidney Crosby ready to go for their game against the Blues on Saturday, but their fears were quelled when he declared himself ready and did indeed play. Unfortunately, the Penguins did miss the services of Ruslan Fedotenko, who as well as Crosby, is a Draft pick of Chris this season. Fedotenko was listed as out day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, which hopefully translates as a short-term injury. Only time will tell, but stay tuned.

The Penguins had called up one of their more veteran prospects, Janne Pesonen, this week, but he only figured into one game before being sent back down to the minors on Sunday. Pesonen, thought to have a good shot at making the club this year, didn't bring enough jam to training camp and thus, was sent down. With Pesonen and teammate Chris Menard being sent down, it does look as though the Penguins will be a little healthier in their next game this week.

The rotation of Leafs defensemen continued on Sunday, as Anton Stralman, a Draft pick of John P., sat for the second time in the week, while Ian White made an appearance in the line-up. The Leafs have had a hard time finding the best combination of blueliners and it will likely be that way for another few weeks, as Luke Schenn has found himself a permanent spot on the team, while some veterans are having their troubles.

The Canucks were without forward Jannik Hansen, a Box 9 selection on the Sheet, on Sunday against the Red Wings because of a groin injury. Hansen has been a good fit on the third line for the Canucks with Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows and was missed somewhat, as the Canucks couldn't find the best fit to replace Hansen on that line.

Click here to see an updated injury page.

The action on Saturday should be fairly exciting. In the early game, the Habs and Leafs renew their rivalry across the full National network. The Leafs haven't been rolling over and playing dead just yet in the early part of the season and could give the high-flying Canadiens a good run for their money in their 60 minutes (or more) of hockey. In the late game, it's a Northwest Division battle between the Wild and the Canucks. The Canucks will be in the middle of their homestand and will be tough hosts to play against, while the Wild have been rolling without Marian Gaborik, who could possibly be in the line-up by Saturday... or he could be traded as well.

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