Monday, March 09, 2009

Week Twenty-Three Newsletter

Twenty-Three weeks in the books and we have a new leader in the Draft! Jeremy took over first place from John B., who slipped down to third, also being passed by Marcus. This turn of events has been somewhat in the cards, as John's lead has been dwindling over the past few weeks, especially after the second Waiver Draft. Jeremy now holds a 2-point lead over Marcus, but Marcus has been the hotter of the two teams, which could mean that Jeremy's time at the top could be short.

John also only holds a 4-point cushion over Clayton, who sits behind him in 4th and Peter is only 4 points behind Clayton in 5th, so there is plenty of race still left in these final five weeks of the season. Also, since we just went past the trade deadline, I thought I would recap the five top teams and see if their teams improved any by the moves made.

On top of the pool, we now have Jeremy sitting pretty at the top and he didn't benefit from any players moving teams on his roster, rather he has benefitted early from a player that was moved onto a line with one of his players. Jarome Iginla, Jeremy's top player, gained a new linemate in Olli Jokinen at the deadline, which did prove to be a big help, as Iginla had a big night on his arrival and continued a good point streak through the weekend, which I believe is now up to eight games.

Marcus, one of the hottest teams in the pool, did have a player make a move, to the Big Apple, and that's Nik Antropov. Of course, in my analysis of the trade, I did mention, I didn't think that Antropov would make a big splash with the Rangers, as they aren't particularly his type of team and John Tortorella may not be his kind of coach. Sounds like the Ranger way alright. Marcus also has benefitted from Jokinen joining Calgary, as he holds the third player to that forward line, Mike Cammalleri.

In John B.'s case, he had a few players that were rumoured to go on Wednesday, but surprisingly, his team was left alone. Keith Tkachuk and Vaclav Prospal had targets painted on them, but the Blues and Lightning were not ready to part with them just yet. Likely a move would have improved both players' standing in the league, so what does that say about where they remained? This might not be a good omen for John, who has now slipped down to third place in the Draft.

In fourth place, Clayton didn't have much going on his roster. The Blue Jackets did improve their roster a little at the deadline, which could affect Steve Mason's numbers for the end of the year and the Hurricanes made a clutch move to improve their line-up, which does get mentioned further on in the Newsletter, so I'll save that for further reading. Otherwise, the deadline didn't change much on Clayton's roster.

Finally, Peter, in fifth place, didn't have any immediate change to his line-up either. There were a couple of names to be on the block through the rumour mill, but none changed hands, which hasn't been determined a good or a bad thing.

It could be problematic for the teams on the outside looking in, if the top teams get a benefit from the trading deadline, as any improvement should give a team a little more confidence for the money at the end of the year.

Poll Question
Well, the poll last week was to discuss if you thought that Miikka Kiprusoff would manage to break the NHL record for wins in a season, let alone going straight for the appearances record as well. At the beginning of the week, the Yes vote stormed out to a giant lead, but the No's came back to make it close, but in the end, of 17 votes, 9 of them were for the Yes vote, saying that he will likely break the wins record this season, while all of the No's are left to wonder if he can win any games in the playoffs now.

This week, I thought I would make it a bit more of a broad question, instead of a specific team, which conference did the best at the trade deadline? The West did manage to move a lot of players and their playoff teams did improve, but so did the East.

Back-to-back! Back-to-back! That's the chant coming from Don's camp, as he has now strung together two straight weeks of being the top team in the pool. Don has quickly become the hottest team since the second Waiver Draft, taking the lead in that category, holding an 8-point lead in this current section of the season. With his 36-point week in Week Twenty-Three, Don currently stands in 9th place in the Draft, 7 points out of 8th and 14 points out of 7th. Unfortunately for Don, it gets quite a bit more difficult to get into the money, as he currently stands 40 points out of third and that's a gap that will be hard to reach as the top teams aren't doing too badly either in these past five weeks, with only five to go.

Having a good week for Don in Week Twenty-Three were Marc-Andre Fleury (6 points), Ilya Kovalchuk (5), Ryan Smyth (5) and Tomas Vokoun (4). Having two goalies like Fleury & Vokoun, you would have thought that he would have some solid production, but he's only really seen what the season should have been like in the past couple of weeks. Just a little too late for this production to make a big difference in the pool at the end.

For his team's effort, Don comes away with the prized Alexander Ovechkin retro card from the OPC set, which is a really cool card. For Week Twenty-Four's prize, we're going to get back into the jersey swatch card, this time an Angelo Esposito jersey card, from when he played on Team Canada in one of the international tournaments.

On the Sheet, 22 of the 41 teams didn't move, but one team managed to climb up the standings four spots. Mitch had himself a pretty good week, being second in pool scoring with 64 points, but unfortunately, is way down now in 37th spot in the Standings. Mitch has made all of his trades this year, which should move him up the ranks a bit more before the end of the year, which is definitely the point of the trading system. Having a good week for Mitch in Week Twenty-Three were Jarome Iginla (6 points), Loui Eriksson (6), Ryan Smyth (5) and three others with 4 points. It really does look like that the whole collection of teams didn't benefit from some of the bigger weeks from players, but that would have really affected the overall picture, I have to believe. Look for Mitch to continue his successes of moving up the standings in the last five weeks of the season.

Looking over the season, Derek has been a busy boy on the ol' Newsletter, figuring into either the top or the bottom of the scoring table in eight of the twenty-three weeks this year, including this week, as a Basement Dweller for the fifth time this year. Derek has now dropped down to 12th place in the pool, where there is a lot of separation between teams, as the positions have decidedly begun to look like the final resting spots for some. In Week Twenty-Three, Derek found himself with five players that failed to register a point, while his best player, Jonathan Toews, only finished with 4 points. Derek does have the highest scoring player in the league this season in Evgeni Malkin, but his support has been dwindled by some injuries to Robert Lang and Pascal Leclaire (before the first Waiver Draft). It's been rather unlucky this year, although he has shown some flashes.

In the Basement of the Sheet for Week Twenty-Three was our favourite Basement Dweller again, Matt E.. If you haven't been reading the Newsletter all season, you probably don't know that he only has Red Wings and Canadiens on his team and when they have a week of little games, he suffers badly. I think I can safely leave it at that for another week.

If there is one team that has been greatly affected by the trade deadline last week it was the Carolina Hurricanes, who ended up only making one big move during the day, acquiring Erik Cole in the three-way deal with Los Angeles and Edmonton. Cole used to be the linemate of our current Player of the Week and you can see that old teammates were really happy to see each other when the puck was dropped.

It was a good week for Eric Staal, which could be a bit of an understatement. Prior to the deadline, the Hurricanes were in Washington on Tuesday to take on the Capitals, where Staal managed to notch a goal in the 5-2 win. The deadline came around on Wednesday and the team picked up Cole, had a couple days to practice before taking on the Flames on Friday at home, where the 'Canes beat Calgary 6-1 and Staal had a pair of assists. A mild warm-up, you could say. In Tampa Bay on Saturday, Staal lit up the Lightning for 4 goals and 2 assists to cap off his week at 9 points. A week that certainly kept Clayton in the race for the money.

It's been a pretty tough period for Manny Fernandez of the Bruins since the second Waiver Draft, as he has failed to register a point since being picked up by Dale B.. Fernandez was getting somewhat of a regular start leading up to the Waiver Draft, but then lost out on a big streak of Tim Thomas starts, which possibly has affected Fernandez's rhythm and thus had a huge effect on his play. Failing to win in the past five or so starts will only keep him out of the net down the stretch.

Other News and Notes

It's quite possible that the change in coastal residence has affected the health of Steve Montador, who was acquired by Boston from Anaheim at the deadline. Montador was out of the line-up over the weekend with a bout of the flu, but should likely figure back into the Bruins line-up this week.

The Sabres didn't play with Maxim Afinogenov again on Saturday night, as the winger had crashed into the boards head first on Friday night against Phoenix and injured his neck. Luckily, the injury is not considered serious, just some soreness in the immediate area. He is considered day-to-day with the injury, which is good news in his injury-plagued year.

The Hurricanes were able to welcome back Scott Walker on Friday night, but apparently the return was too soon, as his concussion syndromes re-appeared in Friday night's game against the Flames and he decided against dressing for the game against the Lightning. He'll be re-evaluated before tonight's game against the Rangers, but don't count on him dressing. In his place could be Brandon Sutter, who was recalled from the minors on Monday, just in case Walker can't go.

The season continues to be troublesome for Fredrik Modin, who sat out again for the Blue Jackets, thanks to a new knee injury. Modin's injury is considered more serious this time around, as he'll now be evaluated on a week-to-week basis, which may lead to shutting him down completely. The Jackets are in the playoff hunt, so that could be less of an option, but if his injury troubles continue, it might be better to rest to than to re-aggravate.

It looks as though Joel Lundqvist is in the doghouse in Dallas, as he wasn't in the line-up for the Stars over the weekend. Lundqvist, a Box 8 forward, only has 5 points in 32 games for Dallas this season and hasn't provided much of a spark in their line-up. The Stars have also lost Fabian Brunnstrom to an apparent shoulder injury on Sunday, as he was checked into the boards. If the injury is serious, expect Lundqvist to figure back into the line-up for their next game.

The Minnesota Wild sat a couple of defensemen over the weekend, seeing that Brent Burns was feeling rather ill and didn't play in any games, while Kurtis Foster did manage to make it into his first game in eleven months, but was then a healthy scratch on Sunday against the Ducks. Both players should be expected to be back in the Wild line-up before too long.

The season for Trent Hunter has now come to an end. Hunter, a Box 19 forward, suffered a broken ankle this week and that has ended his year with only five weeks to go. Hunter was in the running to be picked up in the second Waiver Draft, but was passed over and thankfully so. Hunter finished his season with 31 points in 55 games with Long Island and likely isn't going to be rated too high for next season.

The Coyotes were big players at the trade deadline, acquiring a good number of players, of course sending some out as well, but those movements caused a couple of scratches on Sunday afternoon. Peter Mueller and Martin Hanzal were both given the afternoon off, as the team showcased a few of their new faces. Both Mueller and Hanzal are important players to the team and likely won't be out of the line-up for too long, unless there is an undisclosed injury we are not being told about.

The Penguins decided against playing Petr Sykora on Sunday, as he was dealing with a small upper body injury. The move to scratch him was seemingly precautionary, as the coaching staff expects to see Sykora back in the line-up for their next game this week. Sykora has had a reasonable year in Pittsburgh this season, scoring 23 goals and adding 21 assists in 63 games.

On Saturday, the Sharks decided to scratch Christian Ehrhoff again against Vancouver, as his play hasn't picked up since the first time the team had scratched him. The Waiver Draft pick-up has not played very well since the first Waiver Draft, only collecting 15 points in 38 games for a high-powered San Jose team. The team also had their trade with Philadelphia, which included Kyle McLaren, nullified over the weekend, which means McLaren will head back to San Jose's AHL affiliate for the remainder of the year.

The Leafs and their playoff hopes have taken another hit, as they lost two defensemen to injury on Saturday night. Mike Van Ryn and Jonas Frogren both left the game against the Oilers with lower body injuries. Both players are to receive MRIs on Monday to evaluate their status for the team's next game this week. Van Ryn is the only pool player of the two, residing in Box 30 of the Sheet.

After failing to be dealt at the deadline, it looks like it will be an on-again, off-again remainder of the season for Michael Nylander, who has already been a constant resident of the press box this year. The Capitals are deep down the middle and Nylander has done little to help his cause this year, even when he is in the line-up. If you get the chance, you should be dropping him from your team.

Click here to see an updated injury page.

Hockey Night in Canada

Giddy up! We're back to tripleheader status this weekend on Hockey Night in Canada, as the coverage begins at 1pm MT. The coverage starts in Pittsburgh on Saturday as the Senators travel down to take on the Penguins. This game remarkably doesn't have any players playing for our top three teams in the Draft. Brian Elliot, a possible starter for Ottawa, does play for Clayton who sits in fourth heading into the week, is someone to keep an eye on. In the second game of the day, the Flames continue their season-long road trip in Toronto, as they take on the Leafs at 5pm MT. Draft leader, Jeremy, has Jarome Iginla and Pavel Kubina in that game, while Marcus has Mike Cammalleri and Curtis Glencross and John B. might have Daymond Langkow back in time for that match-up. This could be a game to pad a lead or two. In the late game (8pm MT), the Oilers host the Avalanche in Edmonton, as the Oilers hope to keep their playoff hopes alive. Peter, holding the fifth spot going into the week, holds the only player in the top five teams with Ales Hemsky in the game. Peter is trying his best to get back into the money with that game.

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