Here it comes, everyone! The 2009 version of the NHL's Winter Classic will go on Thursday in Chicago and it should be one for the ages. The Red Wings will be heading to Chicago for New Year's Day, which will be the headliner of a five-game schedule on the holiday. Thankfully, this season, the host team will have a plethora of talent going up against the current Stanley Cup champs. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brian Campbell, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp, Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien, Nikolai Khabibulin and Cristobel Huet will all play gracious hosts to the Red Wings who aren't shy in talent either. There will be the question of how much talent the Red Wings will field on New Year's, since Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Osgood are both hurting, going into Week Fourteen. Nevertheless, the Red Wings should have Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Holmstrom, Johan Franzen, Brian Rafalski and others lining up for the well-coached Wings.
I don't know about you, but this is another one of those hockey highlights that I really look forward to in the season. A good New Year's hangover and the Winter Classic is a good recipe to start the New Year with and 2009 could be a good year because of it. Depending on how the night before plays out, there could be some live blogging here at the Domain... you just never know!
After a 14-0 rout of Kazakhstan on Sunday afternoon, it's hard to find the best player on Team Canada and after being 2-0 through the first two games, it's tough to pick the number one goalie, as neither Dustin Tokarski or Chet Pickard faced many challenges yet. Getting the votes in the poll were John Tavares, who owned the poll with 8 of the 10 votes, while both Cody Hodgson and Jamie Benn each had a vote.
In the bonus poll for the week, I wanted to know how you thought Canada would finish in the tournament. Well, there was one disbeliever who thought Canada wouldn't win gold, but they would win silver this year, while the other six votes thought otherwise. There is plenty of competition in the tournament, so it certainly isn't in the bag for the Canadians.
In this week's poll, I wanna know if you are looking forward to the Winter Classic? It's a shortened poll this week and there will be a subsequent poll afterwards to bring us to the beginning of Week Fourteen. Don't forget to vote twice!
It's rather undeniable this week, but Ryan finally got himself a Mover & Shaker award this season, after posting a 35-point week in Week Thirteen. There were claims that he was close enough in week's past, but this week was truly the one that he pulled away in. There was only one other team that managed to crack the 30-point barrier in the week, so it was a bit of a runaway win, as Ryan walked into Sunday, already over 30 points. For his troubles this week, Ryan has earned himself an Alexander Semin card from Upper Deck, which is a numbered gold card, to signify it's rarity. If Semin can ever string together a few good seasons, this will be one good investment of a card.
Overall, this was Ryan's best week in the Draft this season, eclipsing his previous high of 34 points in Week Five and it is the fifth time he has cracked the 30-point barrier. Unfortunately, he has a few too many weeks in the sub 20-point region and that would account for his 9th place position.
For the week, he received great contributions from Curtis Sanford (6 points), John-Michael Liles (5), Miikka Kiprusoff (4) and four players with 3 points a piece. Only one of his active players failed to register a point for him in the week, which usually means good things in the Draft this season. With the big week, Ryan managed to move back into the top ten from 11th spot last week and manage to gain significantly on the teams just ahead of him. Ryan now sits 3 points out of 6th spot and 10 from 5th.
On the Sheet, it was a pretty easy find to see the Mover & Shaker for Week Thirteen... Neil wins by a margin of two more places moved up the standings. Neil tied for the pool-high in points this past week with 66, but managed to move up 5 places to 24th this week, which gave him the tie-breaking edge over Tim. Neil had strong weeks from Ryan Smyth (6 points), Marc-Andre Fleury (6), Scott Niedermayer (4), Evgeni Nabokov (4), Dany Heatley (4) and seven others with 3 points each.
It was a first-to-worst situation for our Basement Dweller this week. After having such a great week in Week Twelve, it somewhat fell apart for him in Week Thirteen. Fortunately for Jeremy, there wasn't a lot of action from the teams immediately near him, so he didn't drop so badly in the standings, as one may expect. For Jeremy in the week, his best player was Martin St. Louis, who finished with 4 points, thanks to a 4-point game against the Panthers on the weekend. If it wasn't for that game, he could have been quite a bit futher back from the rest of the teams in the week, instead of just being edged out for the bottom. Out of his active players, only four failed to register a point, which isn't too bad, but he didn't get great production out of those who did hit the scoresheet. He only fell from 6th to 8th and is still only 2 points from 6th, so it could be much, much worse.
It wasn't quite a week-low in points, but it was the biggest drop in the standings for Kim, who only finished 3 points better than the week-low in Week Thirteen. Kim finished the week with 39 points, dropping him from 31st to 35th in the pool and has yet to make a trade this season. One trade would likely get him back into the top 30 without any problems, but that would be his prerogative, I suppose. On his roster, 13 players failed to register a point in the week, which would be the greatest reason as to why he finished so low. Remarkably, only one of those zeros were due to injury, while one was in the minors recently.
Our Player of the Week had to hang on for dear life to his weekly points lead on Sunday, as he went into the day, only a point up on his closest rival and a couple points to his next closest, not to mention having some of the league's top scorers going as well (knowing full well what they can accomplish in the day), but he managed to hang on and claim the victory for the week. Mike Smith of the Tampa Bay Lightning held off all comers in the week to claim his first PoW title from the Sherpa with 8 points.
Smith was good enough to seemingly revitalize the Lightning this past week, leading them through a 3-game winning streak. On Tuesday, he only had to make 15 stops to earn a shutout against the Penguins (of all teams) and his first 4 points of the week. Smith finished his week with a weekend home & home series against the Panthers, where he made 25 saves in both games for a pair of wins. Smith has finally cemented his spot as the number one guy in Tampa, as he kind of has to, because Olaf Kolzig has been out of the line-up due to injury. Smith was far and away Wes' best player in the Draft this week and it would be a much different story for Wes if Smith wasn't doing as well.
Where did Henrik Lundqvist go? That would be the most pressing question for Dale C. in the Draft, as he didn't register a point during the week. The Rangers haven't won in their last 3 games, which has kept Lundqvist away from the pool scoreboard and has been one of the contributing reasons why Dale has dropped a ways in the Draft. Once the Rangers have their legs underneath them again, look for Lundqvist to make a charge for the top of the pool scoring.
Other News and Notes
The Thrashers made a little roster shuffle on Sunday afternoon, as the return of Erik Christensen to the line-up saw the healthy scratching of Box 21 forward, Jason Williams. Christensen has been out with a shoulder injury, while Williams hasn't produced as well, scoring only 17 points in 34 games for the Thrashers. I wouldn't forsee Williams being out of the line-up for very long, but the move may shake the team up a little bit more.
It looks like a worst-case scenario for the Red Wings, leading up to the Winter Classic in Chicago. Team captain, Nicklas Lidstrom, blocked a shot during the week, which injured his ankle. An early x-ray showed that there was no bone damange, but they will do another scan after the severe swelling goes down. For Detroit and Larry (in the Draft), they'll be hoping that when the swelling goes down, he can just jump right back into his skates and start playing again. For now, consider him day-to-day.
There is nothing better to fuel a rumour fire than the headline player being scratched from a game. We are to understand that Box 1 forward, Marian Gaborik, is supposed to be somewhat healthy after returning from injury, not long ago. He has been dogged with some injury worries of late, but there have been many more rumours than worries over the past few weeks. On Sunday, Gaborik was scratched from the Wild's game against the Blackhawks, the day the roster freeze was lifted.
On the weekend, the Canadiens called up Kyle Chipchura, a Box 25 forward, to help with some of their injury problems, but ended up sitting in the press box for the Saturday night contest in Pittsburgh. Chipchura has figured into one game this season, before being sent back down to the AHL. He wasn't a popular pick on the Sheet, so it isn't a big deal this season.
Let's not be confused this issue at the moment. Apparently, the starting goalie for the Islanders is, in fact, healthy, but not healthy enough to play back-to-back games, rather Rick DiPietro wasn't even healthy enough to back up Joey MacDonald in their game in Buffalo on Saturday night. DiPietro did win and register an assist, but couldn't be bothered for another game.
On Saturday night, the Rangers were without their number one defenseman, Michal Roszival, due to some personal reasons. The details weren't necessary to be disclosed, but for the Rangers and John B., everyone hopes that he'll be back in the line-up soon, to help the Rangers and their playoff push.
The Flyers found themselves filling up the infirmary this week, with three players getting checked out after blocking shots. First, it's Derek draft pick, Kimmo Timonen, who went down with an ankle injury and it will keep him out of the line-up for about a week. Timonen's ankle was said to be fractured and he will take some time off to make sure it heals well. Secondly, it was Scott Hartnell that took a shot off the toe, thus breaking it, but he didn't spend any time away from the game, lining up against the Blue Jackets on Saturday night. Finally, it's the unlucky Matt Carle, a Peter draft pick, who has been sidelined again, this time with an ankle injury. He is thought to be out on a day-to-day basis, but that could mean just about anything.
There is some good news for the Flyers this week, as it looks like Ryan Parent is ready to play hockey again. The Box 30 defender has been sent down to the AHL to play some conditioning games for the Phantoms before returning to the Flyers, likely in a week. Parent is returning from a shoulder injury that required surgery in October and that should help solidify the Flyers' blueline in the coming weeks.
It looks like the Blues are not expecting to see Paul Kariya back in the line-up this season. Kariya, a Draft pick of Clayton's, will undergo hip surgery in the near future to correct the injury that has been keeping him out since November. Kariya opened the season with a bang, having 15 points in 13 games for the Blues, but that's all folks. Kariya could have been dropped in the first Waiver Draft, but was passed over, since he was only listed as out day-to-day then. Look for him to be dropped in the second one.
The Lightning were without the services of Box 15 defender, Lukas Krajicek, due to an upper body injury on Saturday night against the Panthers. Krajicek, acquired from Vancouver earlier in the season, has done well for the Lightning and has 6 assists in 31 games this season between the two clubs.
The Leafs and Wes have lost Matt Stajan for about the next week or so, as he will be sitting out with an eye injury, after taking a soccer ball to the face before practice on Saturday. Stajan reportedly suffers from some blurry vision and he doesn't feel like he can contribute on the ice for the team. Hopefully the injury isn't as serious as it may sound.
The Canucks have now lost Taylor Pyatt to a broken foot for an indefinite period of time. Pyatt, a Box 5 forward, ended up blocking a shot from his own teammate in their game against the Oilers on Friday night. Pyatt will likely miss the next six weeks with the injury, will keep him from improving on his 4 goals and 6 assists he's picked up in the first 36 games of the year.
A pair of roster moves to report on for the Capitals. Back-up goalie, Brent Johnson, has sat out of the line-up and the bulk of practices over the past few days with a hip injury. In his stead, Simeon Varlamov has been backing up Jose Theodore in the net. Also sitting out, Tomas Fleischmann, a Box 24 forward, has been sitting out with an illness, initially reported as the flu, but has now been reported as pneumonia. Certainly not the best news anyone can look for, so we'll keep a close eye on him.
Click here to see an updated injury page.
Hockey Night in Canada
Happy New Year! It's the first Hockey Night in Canada of 2009 and it's a bargain basement pair of match-ups to start the year. In the first match-up, it's the supposed Battle of Ontario, as the Senators head to Toronto to take on the Leafs. This isn't quite the marquee match-up of season's past, but it could be a relatively good game, since both teams are fighting for some respect. The Leafs may have some new talent, if their new GM has his way, while the Senators are in the middle of many trade rumours, so both teams could be a little different or they both will be rubbish, like they ended 2008. In the second game, it's another match-up that was once a fun one to watch, as the Dallas Stars are in Edmonton to take on the Oilers. The Stars and Oilers are at the bottom of their respective divisions, but neither are far from a playoff spot going into Week Fourteen. It could very well be a high-tempo game, which could be entertaining, but it doesn't have a huge effect on the fantasy pools, as there are some underachieving players in this game.