With being unemployed these day, I have had some extra time to get this newsletter done from start to finish on Monday. Yes, it might be a little later than usual, but I'm able to do that these days. If anyone is looking for a hockey writer, I would be jumping at the opportunity to take on a job like that.
Nevertheless, we had a pretty good week in Week Ten, especially in the Draft. Only 4 points separates 2nd from 7th, which means we can see a lot of movement in and out of the money positions in Week Eleven. Week Eleven is poised to be another big scoring week, as there is 51 games on the NHL schedule in Week Eleven, which should generate around 500 points between our 17 teams, unless there are some terrible injuries to hit and some big scorers go down.
The Sheet pool isn't quite as tightly wound together around the money positions, but it really doesn't have to be. If a team has used their trades, they can just as easily fall out of place rather than keep up their scoring, especially with the way that the season has gone with injuries. Keep up with your team and try and make those key deals, they will help you in the long run.
Well, there was a little bit of a split vote in Week Ten's poll, which of the Eastern teams listed would be your favourite for the Cup Finals. After 11 votes being cast, it was decided by a 5-4 margin that the Penguins would be back in the Finals again this coming Spring, looking for back-to-back titles. The team that they narrowly beat was New Jersey, who has been pretty good to start the season as well. The Capitals managed to get a last minute vote, while there was one vote for another Eastern team not listed... I wonder which team that would have been.
As promised, for Week Eleven, it's the same question but for the Western Conference. I took the top four teams in the conference, plus an other, to see who your favourite is there. Sadly, this will be somewhat of a loaded question, especially for those who are in the same city as one of the teams.
A true testament to having a team that stays healthy through the year is Leon's team, as they continue to play their games and pick up their points. Week Ten was no exception, as they led the pool again with a big 41-point week, extending his lead in the standings and taking the lead for the second jersey now. I would have thought that the Waiver Draft would have curbed the number of times he takes the Mover & Shaker, but he just continues to prevail.
Leon had a pretty good week from his group of players, as all but one of his active team picked up points. Dustin Byfuglien was the one left out in the cold with zero points in the week, so all of the other players are laughing and pointing at their fantasy teammate right now. On the good side, Rick Nash led all players on Leon's team with 7 points, while Paul Stastny had 6, Jason Pominville had 5 and Nathan Horton & Ilya Bryzgalov had 4 each as well. That's some pretty solid scoring throughout that line-up.
It truly seems like Leon's team hasn't missed a beat this season, as he leads the pool in number of skater games played this year with 332, a clear 16 games better than Ryan, who currently sits in 3rd. Leon also ranks 3rd in goaltender minutes played with 2745, only 239 minutes behind the leader, Wes, in that department. If your players are playing, there is a good chance you're getting points, since this pool spread a lot of the scoring depth around.
As mentioned already in the M&S piece above, Leon has taken the lead in the second 8-week segment through the second week and has a 6-point on Dale B., who sits second in the race. Dale has done well since the Waiver Draft, picking up 72 points in the second segment, 2 points better than Wayne, who has also done well since the draft. Those are the only three teams that have moved past the 70-point mark in this race so far, but we're in for another big week of points by the looks of things, so it could all change.
It has not been the luckiest of years for Peter, as he is just not getting the points that he thought he should be from a lot of his players and I think he had good reason to believe he had a good team going into the year and made a couple good decisions at the Waiver Draft. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case, as he finds himself in the basement again, with only 14 points in Week Ten. His best players only had 3 points in the week and they were Martin Havlat, Vincent Lecavalier and Joe Thornton, but that was all. Having Thornton means that he has the best player in the pool this year, but the depth players have really let Peter down.
Injuries have been the bane of Peter's season, as he ranks last in skater games played, only 4 worse than Dale B. in the pool, and ranks 12th in goaltender minutes.
I believe its fair to say that Nicklas Backstrom is doing a great job finding his own way to super-stardom, especially without the likes of Alex Ovechkin in the line-up for the Capitals. Backstrom took the talent on the Caps without number eight and still managed to put some points on the board for Washington and himself, finishing with 9 points in Week Ten and the Player of the Week award.
The Capitals only played in three games in the week, which makes Backstrom's 9 points a little bit more of a feat to behold. On Monday, he scored a pair of goals, including the winner, and an assist against the Hurricanes for a 3-point night. On Thursday, Backstrom had his worst night of the week with only a single assist against the Panthers. On Saturday, he opened the flood gates with a goal and four assists against the weak & underperforming Flyers. The Thursday & Saturday games were both without Ovechkin, due to suspension, so it should be interesting to see how he takes this hot streak into Ovechkin's return.
Among all pool players this season, Backstrom ranks 17th in scoring with his 33 points, which is down from his end-of-season rank last year, which was 14th. Expect to see some shifting here, but at least he's in the neighbourhood.
The cold teams just remain cold, don't they? The Flyers couldn't take any more losing, so they fired their head coach, John Stevens, this weekend, replacing him with Peter Laviolette. Sadly to say, the first impression was not very positive, as the Flyers lost 8-2 to the Capitals. There were a lot of players on the Flyers that failed to register a point and hopefully they can turn it all around, especially for those pool teams that are counting on the Flyers.
Can anyone possibly catch John P. in the Sheet pool this year? Has he completely put himself far enough ahead that no one can possibly catch him? It really seems that way, as he has increased his lead over 2nd place to 54 points, which is completely nuts. John had himself a 76-point week in Week Ten, which wasn't the highest output, but it was sure close. John has only made two trades this year, so he has flexibility to spare as well.
The highest point total in the week came from both Clayton and Ernest in Week Ten, each team gaining 79 points in the week. Clayton had big weeks from Nicklas Backstrom (9 points), Henrik Sedin (6), Matt Duchene (6), Roberto Luongo (6), Alex Semin (6), Patrice Bergeron (5) and Mike Green (5). Ernest had a much more consistent team without too many zeros, having big weeks from Matt Duchene (6), Miikka Kiprusoff (6), Sidney Crosby (6) and Wojtek Wolski (5).
Moving up the standings in Week Ten was Scot J., who moved up from 37th to 32nd in the pool, a pool best five spots. Scot has used four of this trades this season, so he's trying his best to get himself into the top half of the standings this season.
Other News and Notes
The Hurricanes held Jussi Jokinen out of their line-up on Saturday afternoon against the Canucks with an undisclosed lower-body injury. This was considered more to be a precautionary day off for Jokinen, who felt that he could play on Saturday, but the team felt otherwise. I would imagine that Jokinen would be considered to be more of a game-day decision for the team's next game, which is Wednesday in New Jersey.
Also on Monday, the Hurricanes have decided to put Michael Leighton on waivers in order to send him down to the minors. The Canes are expecting to have Cam Ward in net for them on Wednesday, which meant that either Leighton or Manny Legace would be on the way out of the line-up and this transaction pretty much seals it for Leighton.
On Monday, Karlis Skrastins was placed on the Injured Reserve retroactive to December 3rd with a lacerated finger. Skrastins will continue to be out of the line-up for a few more days, as he won't be able to return to the line-up until the 10th. It's not often that you see a cut on one's finger keep a player out, but I would think it would be strictly to keep the finger from getting infected.
I can't say that this came as a surprise, but Ville Leino was a healthy scratch for the Red Wings on Sunday night against the Rangers, likely because of his poor production this season. With all of the injuries in Detroit, you would have thought that there would be more ice-time to be had, thus more opportunities to score. Leino has been held pointless in his last five games and has a -5 rating as well.
An upper-body injury has sidelined Box 29 defenseman, Alexandre Picard, for the time being. The injury was thought to be somewhat serious, but after a day or two of exams, Picard will only miss another game or two for the Sens, which isn't too bad. Picard was not a popular pick in the Sheet pool, so this isn't big news.
It looks like Peter Mueller is back on the shelf, but this time its because of an injury and not that he is a healthy scratch. Mueller suffered an undisclosed upper-body injury in the week and ended up missing a pair of games because of the ailment. He is listed as out day-to-day, so it doesn't seem like the injury is severe.
Click here to see an updated injury page.
Hockey Night in Canada
There is another 12 games expected to go on Saturday, but its still only a doubleheader on CBC for Hockey Night In Canada. By the looks of things, it should be an okay Saturday for hockey on the main network.
In the early game, Alex Ovechkin & Nicklas Backstrom will lead the Capitals into Toronto to take on Phil Kessel & Matt Stajan of the Leafs. Now, I ask you... which pairing would you like to have on your team? There are still plenty of question marks remaining in Toronto, like which goalie will be in net and can they possibly make any ground up on a playoff spot?
In the late game, we go back to the Northwest Division yet again for another match-up, this time its the Minnesota Wild who are in Vancouver to take on the Canucks. With Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows scoring for the Canucks again, the Wild are going to be in tough, especially their number one goalie, Niklas Backstrom (yes, the other one).