Welcome to the holiday season! Week Twelve has passed and we've got ourselves a good season on our hands. The holiday shortened week will only take two playing days away from the pool, both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which brings our holiday game total to 43 games, only 3 games shorter than Week Twelve. Week Fourteen, however, will be back up to a whopping 50 games, so we'll have a big bonanza of points during the first partial week of 2009.
During Week Thirteen, there will be a number of teams who actually manage to sneak in 4 games and they include: Anaheim, Atlanta, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver. It might be the Christmas break this week, but teams don't seem to have the kind of break this year that they may have had in previous seasons. Calgary, Columbus, Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, the Rangers and San Jose all have 2 games, which makes their week a little easier... Montreal getting the biggest holiday cheer with only 1 game this week. Did you stack your team with Canadiens this year? You might get a lump of coal this week if you did.
Looking at our pool scoring leaders this season to this point: Evgeni Malkin leads the way with 55 points, followed by Sidney Crosby with 46, Alexander Ovechkin with 43, Miikka Kiprusoff with 42, Zach Parise & Marc Savard with 40, Jeff Carter & Patrick Kane with 39 and Simon Gagne, Jarome Iginla & Evgeni Nabokov with 38. The top defenseman this season, so far, is Dan Boyle with 27 points, follwed by Shea Weber & Andrei Markov with 26. It sure does look like those will be the names that we'll see at the end of the year heading up the list. All of these players have been having great seasons for their respective fantasy owners.
Believe it or not, the names we were expecting here at the Domain are not the top rookies in the league at the moment. No Steven Stamkos, no Kyle Turris, no Kyle Okposo, no Fabian Brunnstrom, no Claude Giroux or Shawn Matthias. The top five in rookie scoring right now include Derrick Brassard, Kris Versteeg, Patrik Berglund, Mikhail Grabovski and Blake Wheeler... and how about Steve Mason in net for Columbus? Well, those names showed up in the poll this past week, asking you which one is the better rookie and the leading candidate for the Calder Trophy. Taking the honour for Week Twelve was Derrick Brassard, despite his long-term injury that'll keep him out for the next few weeks or possibly more. Brassard does finish the week tied for the lead in rookie scoring, so he can have the honour thus far, but don't look for him at the year-end, unless he goes on quite the superstar tear at the end of the season.
For the Week Thirteen poll, we'll be looking at Team Canada during the World Juniors... who do you think will be the best player on the team? How about a bonus poll, just for an easy question... how do you think Canada will fare in the tournament?
Well, it was a 39-point effort for Jeremy and his squad this past week, which gave him the Mover & Shaker designation for Week Twelve. What a week it was for him, too. He moved from 7th place in the standings, up to 5th, now sitting only 12 points out of the money place of 3rd. If he can string together another huge week like that, he could close that gap rather quickly. Week Thirteen might not be the one to do it in, since it's a holiday week with days off, but it could come rather soon.
This is Jeremy's first weekly designation of the season, although he did lose a tie-breaker for the Basement Dweller... or is that a win in the tie-breaker? Nevertheless, Jeremy gets recognized here in Week Twelve for the win and he comes away with a Sam Gagner rookie card from Upper Deck's Victory set. Congratulations to him for that honour.
In Week Twelve, Jeremy had excellent production from everyone on his team except for one player, Keith Yandle, who failed to register a point. Otherwise, Jeremy earned great weeks from Jarome Iginla (5 points), Derek Roy (5), Ryan Miller (4), Pavel Kubina (4) and Nikolai Khabibulin (4). That's a pretty impressive week from all of those players, which is necessary to win the M&S award in the week.
On the Sheet, it was a massive week for John P., who scored a week-high 75 points in Week Twelve, moving himself up 4 spots to 4th place in the Sheet standings. That was 6 points better than the next best team during the week, which easily makes him the M&S for the week. A very impressive showing. John has now hit his peak position so far this season, which was formerly 7th spot, back at the end of Week Nine. Helping John out to his biggest week this season was: Jeff Carter (7 points), Joffrey Lupul (7), Evgeni Malkin (6), Jarome Iginla (5) and four players each finished with 4 points each. Another week like that and John could be sitting even prettier in the money.
It was another tough week for Dennis in the Draft through Week Twelve, recording his sixth sub-20-point week this season with only 14 points this past week. It was a quiet week for Pavol Demitra, Olli Jokinen, Chris Osgood and Mathieu Garon, who all didn't register a point in the week. His best player in the week was Michael Ryder, who didn't quite benefit the same way the rest of his Bruins teammates did from their scoring spree, with only 3 points in the week. Ryder has had a good season thus far, 24 points in 33 games, which much further than a lot of Canadiens fans thought he would, despite his move to Boston. For Dennis now, he only sits 18 points from last place in the Draft, so he'll need his great players to finally be great players to keep his head above water.
It's been a season in decline for Peter this year on the Sheet. He finds himself in the Basement again this week, with a week-low, 35 points, 10 points lower than his nearest competitor. Still to use a trade this year, Peter finished the week with 13 players without a point and 11 players with a single point. A real shame at this time of year. Trades are there to recover a lot of those points, let's hope he can get all seven out of the way this year to try and make up for the first half of the season.
I don't think anyone in New Jersey could honestly say, "Marty, who?" But with scoring weeks like the Devils had in Week Twelve, you could put just about anyone in net for the team and they would have won. For the Devils, the player in the spotlight is Patrik Elias, as he came up with the week's best effort of 8 points, in a tight race where quite a few players finished up with 7 points.
Elias finished off the week with 3 goals and 5 assists through Week Twelve and is now running a 10-game points streak this season, a season-high for the Devils thus far. On Tuesday, Elias recorded an assist in the 3-2 overtime loss in Toronto, recorded 2 assists in Buffalo on Wednesday in a 5-3 win, had a 4-point night (2G, 2A) on Friday at home to Ottawa and finally, had a goal in the Devils' 3-2 win at home to the Flyers. That's how he rounded out his week and in the Draft, the most thankful for that would be Peter, who stayed a float in 4th place.
The goaltending situation in Ottawa has gotten to be a bit more cloudy heading into the holiday season. Alex Auld failed to register a point this week, also losing a couple of starts to his crease partner, Martin Gerber. Auld, a Draft pick of Dale C.'s, was getting the bulk of the starts heading up to Week Twelve, but another cold patch for the Sens caused the coaching staff to shake it up a bit. Gerber, a Draft pick of Grant's, did pick up a win and an assist this week, which might be enough to get at least another start this coming week. Stay tuned to find out.
Other News and Notes
Scary news for the Anaheim Ducks, as Teemu Selanne has now been listed as out for up to 6 weeks with a serious leg laceration. Selanne looked to have gone down awkwardly in the team's game against Edmonton on Friday night and his own skate seemingly clipped himself, thus cutting into a quad muscle. This is bad news for Chris in the Draft, as he was counting on his offense to climb the ranks this season. This season, Selanne has 27 points in 33 games, a hard production level to do without.
The Bruins have been cruising of late, scoring at will and winning games left, right and centre, but injuries are starting to mount a little. On Saturday, the team placed Marco Sturm on the Injured Reserve again, after suffering a knee injury after returning from an upper body injury. Sturm, a Draft pick of Wes', will now likely be out indefinitely. In the Bruins' afternoon game on Saturday against the Hurricanes, their win was marred by the loss of Patrice Bergeron, to what could be a serious head and/or neck injury, after missing a check and hitting the ice face first. Bergeron had to be helped off the ice and was not able to return. An injury update has not been provided, but it will be listed as soon as we know. Bergeron is a Draft pick of Peter's and was enjoying a solid return after missing 72 games last season with a serious concussion.
Against the Panthers on Sunday, the Colorado decided to sit young forward, T.J. Hensick for the match. Hensick, a Box 9 forward, has only managed to figure into 20 games for the Avalanche and only has a goal and 7 assists. Hensick will be one of those players in the future to help take the reins from the aging veterans and the Avalanche need him to be rather offensive now. Until then, he may have a few more nights in the press box, trying to learn the game from up above.
During the week, Box 8 forward, Joel Lundqvist, was activated from the Injured Reserve from his upper body injury, but wasn't yet fit to play on Saturday afternoon against the Senators. Lundqvist has missed a fair bit of time with his injury and it looks like the Stars want to make sure he's 100% before returning to game action.
On Saturday, the Wild were missing one of their key defenders against the Blues, as Marc-Andre Bergeron sat out with a lower body injury. The Box 13 defender is listed as out day-to-day with the injury. The team was also without Eric Belanger for the whole weekend, as the Box 5 forward has been sitting out with an illness, more than likely being the flu. Both players are likely to return during Week Thirteen.
The Habs won their Saturday match-up against the Sabres in overtime without the services of Andrei Kostitsyn, who sat out with a lower body injury. The Box 21 forward has been struggling this season, compared to his 2008 season, with only 13 points in 29 games for Montreal. There was no word as to when he'll be able to return, but he is only out day-to-day.
The Devils missed out on two players during their two games this weekend, on Friday and Sunday. Both John Madden and Bryce Salvador were out of the line-up for the Devils. Madden was sitting out because of an illness and a sore back, while Salvador was out with an upper body injury. Both players are considered out day-to-day and could be back in the line-up in the coming week.
The Penguins sat Pascal Dupuis in their game at home against the Leafs on Saturday night, as the Box 23 forward had suffered an upper body injury during the week. Dupuis has made a trip to the injure list before, but he wasn't on there for too long. I don't think Dupuis will be sidelined for very long this time either.
The San Jose Sharks learned that they will be without Jeremy Roenick, a Box 6 forward, for the next 10 weeks after separating his shoulder. Roenick will undergo arthroscopic surgery, which will be the leading cause of his time away. Roenick was originally supposed to be out for two weeks, but the news got worse a week into his time off. This season, Roenick has 8 points this season for the Sharks.
The Leafs lost the services of defenseman, Mike Van Ryn, due to a concussion, which will likely keep him out of the line-up for at least a week, including Saturday's win against the Penguins. Van Ryn suffered the injury earlier in the week against the Red Wings and his injury, if it is confirmed to be concussion, the league requires at least a week of rest. More bad news coming on Sunday, as the Leafs have recalled goaltender, Justin Pogge, to start on Monday against the Thrashers, because Vesa Toskala is going to rest a nagging groin injury. Look for Toskala to sit out for the games this week.
The Capitals have again lost the services of Alexander Semin, thanks to a cross-check to the back in their game on Thursday against St. Louis. The injury could have possibly given the Russian winger some nerve damage in his back, which could keep him out of the line-up for quite a while. The Draft pick of Dale C.'s has been on the shelf a couple times already for Washington and it's kept him from his pretty torrid scoring pace of 32 points in 20 games.
Click here to see an updated injury page.
Hockey Night in Canada
The last Hockey Night in Canada in 2008 is looking like it'll be a doozy. It should be a good way to usher out the calendar year, watching these two top tier match-ups. In the opening match-up, the broadcast comes from Pittsburgh again, as this time it's the Montreal Canadiens who suit up against the Penguins, as we watch Carey Price and Marc-Andre Fleury go head-to-head, two former World Junior standouts for Canada go head-to-head in the time of year where the tournament has already gotten started. In the second half of the doubleheader, the Ottawa Senators are in Calgary to take on the Flames, matching up two Canadian teams going in opposite directions. The Senators are struggling to stay afloat in the East, while the Flames are hot once again. Dany Heatley and Jarome Iginla, two former 50-goal scorers go toe-to-toe in what hopefully will be a scoring fest for both teams.