Monday, November 02, 2009

Week Five Newsletter


Another welcome to November everyone! The Week Five Newsletter came at around the same time last season, so I thought I would have the same look at the pools that I did back then. Starting my own little tradition from season to season. Last season, I had a look at the range of points from first to last in each pool, so I thought I would compare and see if there is a smaller gap (meaning more competition) or larger gap, which would indicate a few new faces that might be a tad green.

In the Draft, the gap between the first and last in November 2008 was already 48 points, where as November 2009... is a whopping 62 points! Wow, I didn't expect that and I'm checking as I'm writing. Granted, the top team already had a record week and the bottom team is suffering from injuries galore, so there is ample reason for this huge gap so far. For the sake of checking, the gap after Week Five in 2007 was 57 points, so there is some middle ground in there.

Hmmmm... on the Sheet, I don't actually have a great record of the gaps at all. As per the Newsletter last year, the gap was already upwards of 80 points, so that's what we'll have to work with in terms of comparison. The pool this year is 85 points, which sounds to be about right. The team who was in the lead at Week Five did finish in 3rd spot by the end of the year, so it is a good place to be early in the season. The team that was in last place at Week Five did make a few trades and finish up at 28th spot, which doesn't give a lot of hope, but there is some movement to be had. The biggest gain from Week Five to Week Twenty-Eight last year was Stuart, who was 36th in Week Five and came all the way up to 8th spot by season's end, so there is that little ray of hope for those looking for some. Make those trades, people!

Poll Question
Well, the video weekly poll didn't work so well, as there was a significant drop in votes from Weeks Three and Four. Only 11 votes gave their opinion on the best hit of Week Four and it was a 6-5 win for the Willie Mitchell hit on Jonathan Toews, catching him unaware of the exit out of the penalty box. It was my favourite hit of the week for sure, just because he clocked him so well.

This week, I'll pick something a little more generic... like who is the biggest points surprise thus far in the 2010 season? Craig Anderson, Ilya Bryzgalov, Patrick Marleau, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Penner will head that list.

When we were talking in the weekend preview, we had said that if Leon hit on all of his skater games, he should hit the 40-point mark. Well, I had no idea that he was going to destroy the weekend and end the week with 48 points and a 15-point lead on second place after the weekend had concluded. Leon fell three points short of the all-time record for weekly production, which occurred in the 2008 season, where 51 points was registered in Week Twelve. The weekly best in the 2009 season was 47 points. So, it does look like we have the early candidate for best week of the season already.

With his huge week, Leon did move up to the top of the standings and make quite the lead for himself. It will be interesting to see how it holds. In 2009, the leader after Week Five finished in 7th and in 2008, finished 4th, so Leon could be the first one to win it after leading in Week Five.

Needless to say, Leon had a ton of help this week from a number of players, especially the contributions he received from Tomas Kaberle of the Leafs, who finished with 12 points in the week. That's unheard of for a defenseman. He also had good weeks from Nathan Horton (7 points), Ilya Bryzgalov (6 points), Rick Nash (5 points) and Ryan Getzlaf & Jason Pominville (4 points). That is one ridiculous week as a whole.

Jersey PrizeNeedless to say again, but will be done, just for the sake of taking up space on the Newsletter, that Leon has now got himself a huge lead for the first jersey prize of the season. With only three weeks of competition left before the prize is handed out, it will be hard to reel in Leon's 15-point lead on second place, let alone being lower down in the ranks. He may have sewn it right up here and now. Over the past couple seasons, the teams that are M&S in Week Five do take a bit of a production drop in Week Six, so a team will have to be huge to catch him now.

We have ourselves a repeat team in the Basement Dweller spot this week, as Chris has been suffering from all kinds of injuries over the past few weeks and it just doesn't get any easier for the 17th place team, because there is still three weeks before any new players can be inserted into the line-up after the Waiver Draft. Chris only managed to scrape together 13 points in Week Five and now sits eight points behind 16th place, which isn't too bad, but did end up getting worse this week. Injuries to Jason Arnott, Daniel Briere, Evgeni Malkin, Jonathan Toews and J-S Giguere are all to blame for his poor production in Week Five and he has little hope going forward of it getting any better.

Well, it finally happened! We finally had ourselves a defenseman as Player of the Week and Tomas Kaberle had a much bigger weekend than I expected him to have to earn the title. Kaberle finished with a record week in points with 12 points in the week, three better than the previous best this season and has set the bar pretty high for the remainder of the season.

Kaberle, a Draft pick of Leon's this season, played in four games with the Leafs in Week Five, scoring two goals and adding ten assists in the week. Kaberle had himself a 5-point night on Monday versus the Ducks and a 4-point night on Saturday against the Canadiens to highlight his week, while adding an assist on Wednesday and a pair of assists on Friday. Yeah, it was a pretty great week, which really help lift Leon up and over in the Draft pool standings.

The Canadiens have not been terrible this year as a whole, but you can look at the Kostitsyn brothers and think that there is supposed to be so much more coming from them. Andrei Kostitsyn is the only one of the two brothers in the line-up for the Habs, but he only has four points so far this year, while Sergei Kostitsyn has been battling the organization itself about playing time in the minors. The Habs want Sergei to be in the AHL, while the player thinks better of that and wants to be up in the NHL. Well, at this pace, it could be that both players could be shipped out of Montreal before too long. Definitely something to look forward to this year.

Stat Pack

There was plenty of movement in the Sheet pool during Week Five. Everyone either moved up or down, at least one spot during the week, suggesting that there is plenty of movement yet to come. We have ourselves a new leader again, as John P. takes the lead for the first time this season. His 69-point week was good enough to leap frog the leader and take first place, carrying a 10-point lead into Week Six over Wes M..

Having the best week in Week Five points-wise was Clayton, who finished with 79 points in the week. He moved up to 3rd, two places better than the week before. He collected good weeks from Nicklas Backstrom (7 points), Pavel Datsyuk (6), Craig Anderson (6), Alex Ovechkin (6), Bobby Ryan (5), Alex Semin (5) and Mike Green (5). Obviously, the Capitals were the right team to bank on.

Trevor B. moved up the most positions in the week, gaining 11 positions in the pool, moving up from 21st to 10th, thanks to a 65-point week.

Four teams passed the 70-point barrier, which is a pretty good week, bettering twice the week that our new last place team, Ryan M., had with 34 points. Be sure to keep up on your team, as a trade here and there can really set your team in motion for success.

For your reference, don't forget to check out the injury page here and there is a new tool for those who want to know who's scoring in every box, with this breakdown here. Don't be left in the cold, you're not out of it if you're up on your team. There are tons of trades to happen and the deadline is puck drop tonight, so check out what everyone else is doing and see if there is anyone you should move off your team. It's quite imperative to move those players who aren't playing for a while off and pick up someone who is getting points, or else you're going to be hooped.

To send trades, include your name, the box number of your trade, who you're dropping and who you're picking up to my e-mail address... clayton@opiatedsherpa.com.

Other News and Notes

The Ducks decided to scratch Erik Christensen again on Friday night, as he's been fitting in as the 13th or 14th forward for Anaheim these days. His lack of regular playing time is greatly reducing his fantasy value this season. I wouldn't be surprised if he was moved at some point during the year, looking for a change of scenery.

The Thrashers were without defenseman Ron Hainsey on Saturday, due to a groin injury. The injury is not thought to be too serious, but he may still miss another game or two with the ailment. Those groin injuries are awfully troublesome and have to be taken seriously or else they'll reappear and the player's season won't be a fun one.

The Blue Jackets are having a hard time getting Nikita Filatov to fit in to their system, as he found himself back in the press box on Sunday afternoon against the Capitals. We all know that the coaching staff prefers a defense-first style of play, which may just stifle the talent and creativity of Filatov. Other young talented players have not fared well in Columbus as well, so this certainly isn't a new thing.

The Stars were without their number one goalie over the weekend, as Marty Turco was out sick with a touch of the flu. Turco was not able to start either of the Stars' weekend matches, leaving Alex Auld to pick up a couple starts and try and help his numbers. The Stars have sent Matt Climie, Auld's back-up this weeekend, back to the AHL, which should indicate that Turco should be ready to be in net in Week Six.

The Red Wings felt that they needed a bit of a shake-up in their line-up on Saturday night against the Flames, after their shootout loss to Edmonton. That saw rookie forward, Ville Leino, sit in the press box for the game. Leino has been underachieving a bit in the early part of the season, having only two goals and one assist through the first 11 games of the season.

The Devils lost the services of Johnny Oduya on Thursday night with an apparent lower-body injury, which also kept him out of the line-up on Saturday night. Oduya has not been an effective offensive force for the Devils from the blueline, as he has yet to register a point this year in 11 games.

The Islanders are dealing with some extra depth on the blueline at the moment, which put Freddie Meyer in the press box on Saturday night against the Sabres. With only one assist in his last five games, it should come as no surprise that the Islanders had him in the press box, because they are looking for those precious wins. The game that saw the scratch of Meyer turned up the team's fourth win of the season.

The Flyers are running into some groin injury issues these days. Going into Saturday's game against the Hurricanes, they were already without Daniel Briere, due to a nagging groin problem. Then during the game, defenseman Ryan Parent left the game after re aggravating a previous groin injury. Both of these injuries just compound the issue, which really snowballed around Simon Gagne's groin injury. It doesn't look like Briere or Parent will be available for Monday's game against Tampa Bay.

The Coyotes continued their scratching players for some poor performance in the early part of this season. The next one in the press box was Peter Mueller, who dressed up as a disappointed hockey player for Halloween. Mueller only has a pair of assists in the first 12 games of the season for the Coyotes, which just won't do going forward.

Another scary incident this weekend, as it has been reported that Blues forward, Andy McDonald, crashed head first into the boards on Saturday night in the game against the Panthers. I'm still awaiting word as to the severity of the injury, but I will be providing an update on the blog once it comes down.

The Canucks played the late game on Sunday against the Avalanche and they decided to sit Mathieu Schneider for the game, electing for a little bit more youth and physical play against the Western Conference leaders. Schneider has also gotten off to a bad start with the team, having a -5 rating in his first four games. I would expect him to find his legs sooner rather than later and get his play back up to par here.

Click here to see an updated injury page.

Hockey Night in Canada

Well, it's another one of those lame old doubleheaders on Saturday night this week. Yes, it looks like we'll be dealing with yet another Maple Leafs game in the early match-up, as they play against Original Six rival, Detroit. Both teams will likely be dealing with their goaltending problems, so it's still anyone's guess as to who will be starting that game for either team.

In the late game, the Rangers will be coming through Calgary on their Northwestern swing. There are plenty of Rangers taken in both pools, not to mention the sick amount of Flames taken as well, so it should be a pretty important night of hockey in terms of fantasy points.
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