Monday, October 05, 2009

Week One Newsletter

Welcome one and all to the opening newsletter of the regular season! We're back and almost in full-swing on the pool pages.

The Draft went really well again this year, with a three-peat line-up of 17 teams. The standings and teams are updated, generally on a daily basis. The updates should be up and ready by 8am most mornings, if they are not updated during the evening hours. I am thinking that most nights will likely have some live scoring, so if you're at home and have a computer near you and your TV, you may want to keep the standing open from time to time.

The Sheet, on the other hand, was not an easy endeavour this year, because of some technology issues. You know what I don't like about Windows Vista? That I couldn't update my webpage with some of my software, straight from the software itself. Some of those problems came up with the playoff pool last Spring, so, we're still working on some of those issues. I am still inputting sheets into the book, so there will be a slight delay as to when everything will be up and running at 100%. I am hoping for a mid-week completion and then it too will be updated on a regular basis. Likely not live though.

I am hoping for another competitive year, as last year was really awesome. Thanks for participating and good luck to all of you!

Poll Question
Well, since we're heading into our first full week of hockey action, I wanted to know whether or not you like your pool team this year, be it on the sheet or in the draft. Hell, if you're coming onto the blog looking for info on your team in another pool, I want to hear from you, too.

Myself, personally, like my draft team, despite it's slow start. I think there is plenty of potential to be had in quite a few of my players. Overall, it isn't quite the same team that I had last season that won the whole thing, but this year is much more competitive and should be right in the middle of the mix.

Leave a comment about your team, if you like at the bottom of this post.

Of course, in the draft this year, the prize will be focused around the 8-week segments for our jersey prizes. That'll mean I should have a new animated logo for those, which I'm looking forward to using. The first jersey to be given away will be announced next week.

Leading the way to start the year is our first Mover & Shaker, John P.. John had a blinding start to the season, racking up 20 points and taking first place out of the gates. True, it's only a 1-point lead out of the first weekend of play, but still, it's good to have the distinction under your belt, is it not?

Leading John to victory was Ray Emery and his return from Russia. Emery had a pair of wins, including a shutout for 6 points to lead all of John's players. Carey Price also won a pair of games over the weekend, so he also picked up 4 points to start the season. Mike Cammalleri, Matt Stajan and Niklas Kronwall each picked up a pair of points each to help the team as well.

Congrats to John for the early lead.

Since I'm still entering teams this morning, I'm not going to be doing a Mover & Shaker or Basement Dweller for the Sheet, but the newsletter will likely be revamped a bit, just so there is a little more pizazz for the Sheet pool this year.

Starting in the basement this week are a couple of teams, who only finished with 9 points in Week One. Both Peter and Clayton finished down at the bottom of the standings, as neither team found much luck with their goaltending or their scoring to start the season. Of course, every team will be due to have a pretty good week, since we're getting into the first full one of the year. Both teams, however, are already 11 points behind the leader, which is still a manageable distance, it's just a distance is all.

It was a tie to start the Player of the Week considerations and since one of the players has already been recognized as part of the Mover & Shaker award, I think it's time to award this distinction to the other player. With 3 goals and 3 assists in only two games, Alexander Ovechkin earns our first Player of the Week honour.

Ovechkin, a part of the draft's 7th place team belonging to John B., had two great opening games against the Bruins and Maple Leafs. He scored two goals, including the winner, and an assist against Boston on Thursday and then had a goal and two assists against Toronto on Saturday. There is a buzz surrounding Ovechkin that he is going to chase the 50 goals in 50 games mark already this year. If you have had a chance to watch him play, you should almost agree with that idea.

So, there ya have it. Ovechkin opens up the season with a PoW honour and we'll see soon how many sheet teams have ended up picking him this year as well.

Well, it's hard to pick someone who is cold to start the year, especially only after a few games, so I will pick on the coldest scoring team to start the season, the Hurricanes. Carolina has played in two games already this year and has only managed to score two goals combined in those two games. Both Eric Staal and Scott Walker are the only two players to score for the Canes and there were only two assists registered between the two goals, from Sergei Samsonov and Aaron Ward. Certainly not a great start.

Other News and Notes

The Ducks sat both Andrew Ebbett and Erik Christensen for their season opening game against the Sharks. Both players made the final roster for the start of the season, but they were held out of the line-up on opening night. Neither player were taken in the draft, but they were made available on the sheet. Ebbett is in Box 7 and Christensen is in Box 8.

Colby Armstrong of the Thrashers has been kept out of the line-up due to a lower-body injury, which he suffered in the preseason. He is not supposed to be out of the line-up for too long, but that could easily change from day-to-day. Armstrong is only a sheet player this season as well, sitting in Box 23.

The Sabres scratched a pair of selection sheet players on Saturday night against the Canadiens, which they lost 2-1 in overtime. Both Dan Paille of Box 22 and Toni Lydman of Box 27 were held out of the line-up on Saturday and there is no word as to whether or not they will figure into the line-up in Week Two at all.

The Hurricanes had an injury setback on Saturday, as they have now lost Erik Cole for upwards of six months, thanks to a fracture in his leg. Cole suffered the injury in a collision with Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman. Cole was not taken by anyone in the draft, but he was available on the sheet in Box 23. Sit him or trade him, if you have him.

The Blackhawks have officially decided who they will dress as their back-up when they start in North America this week. On Sunday, they decided to send Corey Crawford down to Rockford of the AHL, leaving Antti Niemi to back-up (if not start) Cristobel Huet. Niemi earned a shutout in his start in Helsinki against the Panthers, further solidifying his spot on the team.

The Avalanche, in their winning ways to start the season, have decided to scratch a couple of sheet players as well. Both T.J. Hensick of Box 5 and Ruslan Salei of Box 12, were out of the line-up for the two wins against San Jose and Vancouver. Since the team is winning to start the season, I wouldn't imagine that they will be changing the line-up anytime soon.

The Stars opened up the season without forward Jere Lehtinen, who continues to battle groin and hip issues, which kept him out of the line-up for the best part of last season. Lehtinen was hoping to be healthy to start the year, as was I, so I had put him into Box 8 for your choosing pleasure. Well, don't take any pleasure in taking him this year, as he's having troubles getting healthy still.

The Oilers scratched one of their young forwards on Saturday night in their opener against the Flames. Robert Nilsson, who was playing with both Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner in previous line combinations, was the odd-man out on Saturday night. Not sure if he'll figure back into the line-up this week or not. He's a Box 7 forward, FYI.

It looks as though the ice is not very good in Nashville these days, as three players start the season on the shelf for the Predators, all with groin problems. Joel Ward (Box 6), Jordin Tootoo (Box 8) and Colin Wilson (Box 9) have all missed the opening game for Nashville and they may continue to miss games, as there was no indication as to whether or not any of the three will be back soon.

The Islanders start the season with a few players on the injury list, but the two new ones that appeared over the weekend were Blake Comeau and Doug Weight. Comeau is out day-to-day with an illness and could very well figure back into the line-up sooner rather than later. He's a Box 23 foward. Weight, a Box 18 forward, will be out indefinitely with a groin issue of his own. There is no word as to when he'll be back.

The Rangers are without Sean Avery to start the season, as he's out with a sprained knee. He didn't figure into the Rangers' opener on Saturday against the Senators and he should miss the next week or two with the injury as well. The Box 24 forward does figure well into the Rangers' line-up, as they have a winning record with him in.

The Flyers are going forward without their expected back-up goalie, Brian Boucher, as he's sitting out with a lower-body injury. Boucher suffered the injury in the preseason and they called up Jonas Backlund to back-up new starter Ray Emery. There is no immediate word on when Boucher will return, but when he does return, he will be running on a back-up schedule.

To begin the season, the Coyotes decided to move some of their younger players down to the minors, including Kevin Porter, a Box 9 rookie. Porter survived a number of cuts through the year, but didn't come through in the clutch in the preseason (is my only guess), meaning that his demotion may have been earned.

The Blues didn't dress young defenseman Alex Pietrangelo in their games in Stockholm against the Red Wings, deciding to scratch himself instead. The Box 14 defenseman was thought to be a lock to be in the starting line-up for St. Louis, but the team has done a good job stockpiling defenders, making it a little more difficult for Pietrangelo to figure in.

The Lightning also have a large stockpile of defensemen that they are dealing with. The odd-man out of that line-up is Box 27 defender, Lukas Krajicek, who didn't figure into the team's opener against the Thrashers. There are rumours abound that the Lightning are going to be moving a defenseman in the next day or two, just to lessen the logjam, but there is no certainty to who it is going to be.

The Leafs sent Nikolai Kulemin down to the minors before the season started, then called him up just before the opening game, only to have him scratched from their opening two games against the Habs and the Capitals. The Leafs did a lot of rebuilding over the summer and Kulemin quickly became a bubble player, since he doesn't have the grit that the coaching staff or management was really looking for from players. I don't think the Box 23 forward is going to stick very long with the team.

The Capitals are another team having the good problem of a lot of depth this season. Jeff Schultz, a Box 30 defenseman, was a healthy scratch from the line-up against the Leafs, likely due to too much depth. The Caps have started well in the new season, so it doesn't look like Schultz is going to figure into the line-up until there is an injury.

Click here to see an updated injury page.

Hockey Night in Canada

The second Saturday Hockey Night In Canada telecast will only be a regular doubleheader this weekend. Up first, the Penguins will invade the ACC to take on the Maple Leafs. Toronto has a number of issues that they will want to clear up before they go anywhere near beating the Penguins. Thankfully, they will be at home, but I'm sure the Penguins won't mind where they play when they face the Leafs this year.

In the second half of the doubleheader, the Canadiens continue their Western swing with a stop in Edmonton to take on the Oilers. The new-look Habs will show their stripes against an Oilers team that is coming off a poor HNIC debut against the Flames the weekend previous. Both teams will be flying in this game, so there should be plenty of action at both ends of the rink.

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