Friday, October 30, 2009

Heading Into Weekend Five

Heading into the weekend of Week Five, we have ourselves a new leader in the Draft, as Leon makes the leap to the top of the heap. He is now poised to finish on top of the table for the first time at week's end, thanks to what could be a Mover & Shaker type week. There is still plenty of games on the weekend to go, starting tonight, which has eight games on the schedule, but none on local (Calgary) networks. It's a good time to have renewed or ordered your Centre Ice subscription.

In total, we'll have 23 games between the three weekend days, including an 11-game day/night on Halloween Saturday. That should be enough games to scare up some points.

Leon currently sits with a 3-point lead on 2nd place, Wes, and a 7-point lead on 3rd place Dale C., so there is some safety, especially since he is also currently tied with the highest number of skater games to be played over the weekend with 20. It looks like this week was a long time coming for Leon.

In other news, there is a slight chance that we'll have a defenseman as Player of the Week, which could be a first in... I don't know how long. I know there wasn't one in the 2009 season and I don't think there was one in the 2008 season, so Tomas Kaberle could be in some pretty exclusive company, if he can have a big weekend. Kaberle is currently tied with Predators goalie, Pekka Rinne, for the Draft lead in pool points with six and there are a number of players who are nipping at their heels.

Of course, Leon, as we noted already, has the lead for the Mover & Shaker this week, as he is the only team that has eclipsed the 20-point barrier going into Friday's action. Clayton sits second in the weekly scoring with 18 points and Stacey ranks third with 17 points. If Leon gets contributions from all his skater games, he should be safe with an over 40-point week.

I also thought I would do a little bit of analyzing through the first four and a half weeks of the season about the number of points earned in the pool per game. Both Week One and Week Two went off to a roaring start, where on average, each game would have generated 11.1 points for the Draft. Week Four was next highest at only 10.2 points per game and Week Three and the first 24 games of Week Five are both below 10 points a game, sitting at 9.2 and 9.3, respectively. Of course, he have seen plenty of injuries in the pool, which have taken its toll on the season and it would be interesting to see if that trended in the 2009 season. Thankfully, the week still has 23 games, so maybe the teams can pick it up a bit more and we can see some good scoring for the Draft.

Have a good (and spooky) weekend!

Two More Rangers Down

On top of already being without Marian Gaborik with a lower-body injury, the Rangers will now be up against the Minnesota Wild without both Christopher Higgins and Sean Avery. Higgins will sit out Friday's contest with an ankle injury, while Avery will be sitting out with a knee injury. Both players haven't practiced in a couple days, but should be considered as out day-to-day until more information is provided.

The Rangers won't be hard pressed to replace the offense that Higgins is taking with him, as he's only got two assists in the first 13 games of the season. Avery, on the other hand, has two goals and four assists in his first nine games, having already missed a few games this year. Both players were going to be leaned upon for a little more offense, since their best offensive player is on the shelf, but since they are joining him, there won't be much pressure to perform.

ImplicationsNeither player features in the Draft and neither player features on the top available players, so it doesn't look like they'll be major players there at all.

On the Sheet, Higgins figures in with five selections in Box 22, whlie Avery chimes in with three selections in Box 24. This is one of the few news bits that has players with picks in their box. How strange. Both players aren't supposed to be on the shelf for very long, so you could definitely hold on to them for a game or two, before they either return or get their status updated.

Wings Lose Filppula to Broken Wrist

It was an expensive shootout loss to the Oilers on Thursday night, as the Red Wings lost forward Valtteri Filppula to a broken wrist, which will keep him out of the line-up for 6-to-8 weeks. Filppula suffered the injury after a hit along the boards from the Oilers' Gilbert Brule, in what was just finishing one's check. He will now join Johan Franzen on the Red Wings' long-term injury list.

In the first 11 games of the season, Filppula scored two goals and four assists for the Red Wings, not leaving himself in the best of shape fantasy-wise at the time of the injury. He will leave a pretty big whole in the forward corps of the Wings, as he can log upwards of 21 minutes of ice-time and make them solid minutes. However, he does have a poor plus/minus rating, at a -6, which is somewhat indicative of the Wings early season record as well.

ImplicationsFilppula was an 11th round pick by John B. in the Draft this season, going 171st overall. With only six points to start the season, his draft placement does seem to be about right. There is likely a pretty good chance that he will be a drop in the Waiver Draft in a few weeks time.

On the Sheet, Filppula is listed in Box 7 and was tied for the second-best player in the box, sitting four points behind Patrick Sharp for the best player. Filppula was taken three times and would likely be a good candidate for a trade, especially for a player like Sharp.

Thursday Night Scratches

The flu bug is really getting around in Edmonton. It claimed two more players on the Oilers before last night's game against the Red Wings. Both Lubomir Visnovsky and Mike Comrie were down due to the illness on Thursday night, but neither have fallen victim to the H1N1 virus, officially. The Oilers are in Boston on Saturday afternoon and you would have to believe that both players would be questionable going into that match-up.

Not even Martin Erat is free from constructive criticism in Nashville. The coaching staff was not happy with his performance in the early part of the season, so they decided to make him a healthy scratch to try and motivate his game. Erat has one of the highest cap hits on the Predators and he was made an example of with this move, so we'll have to see whether or not it will motivate him at all.

The Senators kept Jason Spezza out of the line-up for their loss against the Lightning on Thursday night. Spezza has reportedly been suffering from an upper-body injury and last night was a night off for the playmaking forward. There have been little details about the injury and some sources are wondering whether or not this is the same injury that was hampering him in the preseason. He's considered day-to-day for the time being.

Much like Erat in Nashville, Scottie Upshall was also sent to the press box for a game because of poor play in the early part of the season. In 11 games for the Coyotes, Upshall has only three goals, which would indicate that his game is lacking some balance at the moment. Certainly, scoring three times in 11 games isn't a terrible stat, but when its the only thing you have done, it does lack oomph.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Luongo Update

Further to yesterday's quick hit, there was more information released about Roberto Luongo's injury. The injury was discovered to be a fractured rib, which he believes he suffered in the Canucks' game versus the Maple Leafs on Saturday night. The time frame that Luongo is expected to be out varies from source to source. If we were to just collect all of the numbers, we can say that he'll be out anywhere from one to four weeks, missing the next two games in California being the minimum he'd miss.

After a very slow start in the Vancouver net, Luongo had come back to win six games, one by shutout to lift his 2010 point total up to 14 points, ranking him 26th in pool points, eighth among all goalies. That's not a bad start at all, despite losing his first four starts. The overall impact of the injury will likely drop him a number of places, but the number of spots will correspond with the number of games he misses on a ratio basis.

ImplicationsIn the Draft, Luongo was taken 4th overall by Clayton, who currently sits 3rd in the pool, as of Thursday afternoon. He has already been without his other goaltender, Jonas Gustavsson, for the last little while, but has since returned to the Maple Leafs net. Still, this is the 1st round pick that is being lifted from the line-up for an exact time that is still relatively unknown.

On the Sheet, Luongo was the most popular goalie taken in Box 15, taken 18 times to Mikka Kiprusoff's 14 selections. As you can see in the new breakdown of points by box in the Sheet pool, both Luongo and Kiprusoff are two points behind the current leaders in the box, so there shouldn't be much panic... yet.

Malkin Out Three Weeks

According to the Penguins Report on their website this morning, the team is giving Evgeni Malkin some time off as a precaution to rest a strained shoulder. Malkin is expected to miss two or three weeks under this rest order and the team hopes that he'll come back at 100%. There was no exact indication as to when the injury occurred, but it was as recent as 10 days ago.

In my pool rankings, Malkin currently ranks 22nd with four goals and ten assists in 12 games, thus far with the Penguins, which isn't quite the pace we saw out of him last season, but if he's been rocking an injury for the past week or two, then there may be some substance to his lack of production. Holding Malkin out of the line-up in Pittsburgh will mean that the onus will be on Sidney Crosby to carry the Penguins a little bit more and it will likely give a bigger role to Jordan Staal as well.

ImplicationsIn the Draft, this injury will just make a bad start to the season for Chris even worse. Chris currently sits in last place in the Draft, even after using the 3rd overall pick to get Malkin. He is already without his 2nd round pick, Jonathan Toews and his 3rd round pick, Eric Staal, has not scored at the pace that anyone would have expected. This is not the time for Chris to have an injury like this. It seems almost certain that he'll be using the 1st pick in the Waiver Draft in a month's time.

On the Sheet, there was a large decision to Malkin's Box 17 counterpart Alex Ovechkin, who took the selection poll handily, 31-10. Now, those 10 teams that have Malkin on the Sheet will have a decision to make, whether or not they use a trade for the two weeks missed, just so they can keep up to the other teams with Ovechkin in the line-up. Decisions, decisions.

Kings Claim Jones From Philly

The Kings made a big splash from the waiver wire on Thursday, claiming defenseman Randy Jones off of the re-entry waiver wire from the Flyers. Jones was called up from the minors on Wednesday, but had to pass through waivers in order to re-join the line-up and the Flyers were taking quite the gamble to do so, especially since the Flyers will now be on the hook for half of Jones' salary and cap hit.

ImplicationsIt seems that everyone was either aware of Jones' sub-par outing in 2009 or knew that he was destined for the minors with the Flyers, until such time an injury would arise, because no one picked him in the Sheet pool. He resides in Box 30, the last defenseman pool of the Eastern Conference and was passed over for guys like Luke Schenn in Toronto or Ville Koistinen in Florida. I wonder if the move to Los Angeles will make him more attractive to anyone in either pool.

Salary CapThe Kings and Flyers were in two different cap situations before this move came down. The Kings had a lot of room to move and were able to pick up Jones' salary, as a whole, let alone half; while the Flyers were having all sorts of cap troubles, but the injury to Simon Gagne would have allowed the Flyers to have Jones on their active roster for the time being. Well, now the Flyers will have half of Jones' cap hit for the rest of the year, regardless of where he is playing with the Kings organization. That's a pretty big ouch.

Volchenkov Injured

Just in case you have him in your pool for hits or +/- (because he isn't in either of my pools), you will not see Anton Volchenkov in the Senators' line-up any time soon, by the sounds of things. Volchenkov has apparently injured his elbow in the game versus the Panthers last night, which could keep him out for a few weeks, according to the Sens Twitter account. This could be bad news for the team, especially on the defensive side of the puck, because he has been playing quite well, helping out in his own end and making the goalies more valuable in Ottawa. This could be a big loss to them going forward.

Sykora Scratched

After coming back to the line-up from a groin injury earlier in the week, Petr Sykora was reportedly not very happy about sitting on the bench in Monday's loss to the Blackhawks. So, instead of taking a line-up spot and sitting on the bench, Sykora was turned into a healthy scratch and watched the game from the press box. This doesn't look good on Sykora, who joined the Wild on a professional tryout and then signed with team shortly after, as he's beginning to look ungrateful for his chance.

ImplicationsSykora received a pretty cushy Sheet box this season, just because of his early season chemistry, placed in Box 4, but that certainly wasn't enough reason for anyone to pick him over a guy like Devin Setoguchi. This will certainly hurt Sykora's shot at long-term success, unless he can make good with the coaching staff later on this week.

Colaiacovo Sits

The Blues played their first game since Saturday on Wednesday and Carlo Colaiacovo did in fact miss the game with an upper body injury, which he suffered taking the hit from Steve Ott in Saturday's game. Colaiacovo's status isn't very severe, only out on a day-to-day basis, while Ott was actually suspended for two games for the low-bridge hit that he put on him.

On a few other teams, Colaiacovo may be considered a top four defenseman, but on St. Louis, as they are getting their depth back to normal, he figures in a little lower on the depth chart and his numbers show. In the first nine games played, Colaiacovo only registered one goal and two assists.

ImplicationsThis season, Colaiacovo was selected in the Draft by Dale B., hoping for some similar roster implications in St. Louis, like they had last season. If there were some similarities drawn between last season and this one, it would mean that Colaiacovo would have been getting more minutes on the ice and a bit more scoring responsibilities, but the return of Erik Johnson saw the end of that pretty quickly.

The defender is also available on the Sheet in Box 11, but he was not taken at all in the box, being passed over for guys like Jay Bouwmeester and Brian Rafalski.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday Afternoon Quick Hits

It's been a bit of a crazy day around the office, the stuff won't stop coming in, yet the hockey news won't stop either. Crap. So, I'm just weeding out the stuff that is pool relevant, of course. These will be just quick hits, lacking the usual depth for the major injuries. A lot of these hits don't have a great amount of detail anyways, so more updates should follow in the next couple days anyways.

As it turns out, on Monday, the Predators decided to send down Box 7 forward, Ryan Jones, down to the minors because of low production. There is no indication the time Jones will have down in the minors to re-establish his game, but it could very well be a few weeks before he's back with the Predators.

On Tuesday night, the Wings decided to dress forward Justin Abdelkader and scratch defenseman Derek Meech for their game against the Canucks. Both players are listed on the Sheet, in boxes 9 & 14, respectively. There could be more of these simple scratches in and out of the line-up to come for the Red Wings this season, so it should be safe to assume that their depth players are not safe until they start producing on a more consistent basis.

The Wild shouldn't have their usual back-up, Josh Harding, on the bench tonight against the Predators, as the Box 16 goalie is suffering from some leg muscle pains. It doesn't sound like the injury is very serious, but the team has called up Anton Khudobin from the AHL, likely to back-up Niklas Backstrom for tonight's game.

The Thrashers are currently listing Nikolai Antropov as questionable to play in Thursday's game against the Capitals, as the Russian centre is battling some groin problems. Antropov has not been to practice over the past few days, including today, which indicates that the injury may be a little more serious than day-to-day, but there is no official word yet.

It doesn't sound like Dustin Boyd will be good to go for the Flames tonight at home against Colorado, as he is suffering from a bout of the flu. By all indications, the Box 8 forward is only suffering from the normal flu and not anything more substantial that is traveling around at the moment.

It sounds like another injury has befallen Marian Gaborik, but this time it doesn't sound like his groin or hip that is the problem. The coaching staff won't confirm that the injury is a leg injury, but that is what its believed to be. For now, we can only assume that the injury will keep him out on a day-to-day basis until otherwise noted.

The Flyers have finally freed enough space with the Simon Gagne injury to call up defenseman Randy Jones from the AHL. Jones is currently sitting in re-entry waivers, as that he'll have to clear those before he is able to join the Flyers line-up for their next game on Saturday verus the Hurricanes.

The Penguins held out Box 23 forward Tyler Kennedy from practice and it sounds like he'll be out for the game against the Canadiens tonight in Pittsburgh. Kennedy's current condition and injury are unknown at the present moment, but he will likely be re-evaluated and an update will be published in the next day or two.

Horrible news has struck the Canucks after their loss to the Red Wings on Tuesday night, as they have lost their number one goalie, Roberto Luongo, to an unknown injury for an indefinite period of time. Those are the only vague details that I have so far, so until the extent of the injury is known, I'm not sure how much you'll want to panic.