The Christmas Break is here! The rosters are frozen, the countdown to presents is on and the NHL is going to bundle up all their teams and put them in one hell of a compact schedule in Week Thirteen. Yes, there are 45 NHL games coming up this week, just as much as any other week, for the most part, except that there is two days off for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. How crazy is that?
Yes, its true... the holiday spirit will be short lived by our hockey players this year, much like most other years, but this one especially so. Those Olympic games are really making everyone work overtime these days. Here's hoping everyone stays healthy this week, that would be a nice present to everyone, including us poolies!
I thought picking the rookie of the year, so far this season, would have been a basic enough poll to get even the most basic of votes, but no... hits are down over the past couple weeks to the blog, so the number of votes fell down with it.
Well, with only nine votes, John Tavares took the title for the 12-week rookie of the year title, with only four of nine votes. Tavares has done well to lead the Islanders for far this year and is deserving of the mention, for sure. Tyler Myers and Michael Del Zotto each picked up two votes for their effort thus far this season and the last vote went to James Van Riemsdyk. Maybe in another 12 weeks, there will be another rookie poll and we'll see how they all do.
In Week Thirteen, I'll touch on the hot topic of the week, the head shots. Of course, it was the Maple Leafs and Bruins game that set the whole thing off. See below...
Now, personally, I thought this was a clean hit, but the debate around hits in and around the head. So, my question this week is what is the best way for the league to move forward with policing head shots.
The Mover & Shaker award had a pretty good race through the week, but it was a little bit of a runaway after Saturday night, as Benson vaulted up to the top of the weekly standings and was the only team in the Draft to eclipse the 40-point barrier in the week, with 43 points.
This is Benson's first M&S award of the season and with it, he moved up from 12th to 10th place in the standings and he now sits 28 points out of the money. With this past week being what it was, Benson actually made up 10 points on the 3rd place position, so a few more weeks like that and he could be back in the conversation, if his team can keep up this production.
Week Twelve was the perfect example of some consistent play for Benson's team, every active player on his team managed to pick up points, a minimum of two each. That's pretty good by itself. Having the good weeks for Benson were Sidney Crosby, Loui Eriksson and Pavel Kubina, who all finished with 5 points in the week, while Jaroslav Halak had 4 points.
Statistically speaking, Benson now has the best points-per-game ratio for all of his skaters, as his team now scores at a click of .725 points for every skater game. That's a pretty solid average for the season thus far. Unfortunately, his goaltending team has not fared so well, ranking 13th in the pool, picking up under a point (.940) for every 60 minutes played by his goalies.
The race for the jerseys is turning into a two-horse race between the first segment winner, Leon, and Dale B., who is firmly planted in the race. Leon now leads this segment with 144 points, while Dale sits back with 142 points. Third place, Wayne is a little ways back at 127 points and fourth, Larry, has 126 points. There is still four weeks left in this segment, so the second half will have to be pretty exciting to get everyone closer.
Unfortunately, at the bottom end of the scale, Stacey sits with 84 points, 10 points worse than John P., who sits 16th. It'll have to be an amazing segment to make their way back.
Speaking of Stacey, it was not a good week at all for him in the Draft, scoring only 13 points in the week, the worst week since Week Seven and the was the only team to have less than 20 points in Week Twelve. Stacey has been on a steady decline in the standings, dropping from 3rd place at the end of Week Seven down to 11th in five weeks. It hasn't been a very good segment since the Waiver Draft, mostly due to some serious injuries to Ales Hemsky and Ryan Smyth.
Trying to keep Stacey a float was actually one of his Waiver Draft picks, Jimmy Howard, who had 6 points in the week, which was almost half of his weekly total. Duncan Keith & Stephane Robidas had 3 points a piece, while Brooks Laich finished off the scoring with a single. This is one of the more unlucky weeks of the season, having so many active zeros on one team, without injury. It should turn around for him though soon, with the impending return of Smyth.
It was a pretty remarkable week for the Chicago Blackhawks in Week Twelve, winning all three games, two of them by a shutout. Well, Cristobel Huet didn't get to play in all three games in the week, but he did register both shutouts for 8 points. That's enough for Player of the Week honours in the week, which was a fairly close race until Sunday night, when Huet picked up his second goose egg.
Huet made 27 saves against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night for his first shutout of the week and on Sunday, he made 20 saves against the Detroit Red Wings for his second. That's a pretty quick & easy 8 points for Dale C. in the pool, who is running away with the lead in goaltender points in the pool this year. Huet's 8 points now gives Dale 88 points from the crease this season, 15 points better than Leon.
Well, this isn't so much a cold streak, but it kind of is. Mikhail Grabovski, if you noticed, had a negative number in his This Week column in Allan's team page, that was because of a scoring change after his weekend game, which was caught after the statistical audit. That being said, he also didn't get a point in the week, so it sort of works two-fold... he didn't get credit for a point in Week Eleven and he sucked in Week Twelve. That's pretty cold.
Well, good news in the Stat Pack this week, as the lead has been taken down a little bit in Week Twelve, as we all try and catch-up to John P., who now has a lead of 66 points, with 14 weeks to go. Three of the four teams below John made up points in the week, so there is a bit of a gang effect going on in the standings, which should make everyone a little happier... except for John, of course.
I do believe its a return to the best weekly team nod for Ernest G., who finished the week with a pool-high 73 points. This really earned him the best spot in the Stat Pack, as he also moved up the most positions in the pool as well, getting himself into the top 20, moving from 22nd to 16th in the Standings. Having a good week for Ernest in Week Twelve was Marc-Andre Fleury (6 points), Jarome Iginla (5), Sidney Crosby (5), Andrei Kostitsyn (5) and four other players with 4 points a piece. It certainly wasn't an outstanding week for individual performances, but some consistency through the line-up will also bring good things to your team.
Moving in the money positions in the week was Paul W., who moved from 3rd to 2nd, taking over for Wes M. in that position, while Tony C. moved into 5th place from 9th, jumping over a few teams to do so. Keep the moving about up, it really keeps the excitement levels up.
Other News and Notes
Not much news in this week's newsletter... covered all the basis' before the two games on Sunday, so there isn't really anything here to report at the moment. Check out the injury page for updates anyways!
Click here to see an updated injury page.
Hockey Night in Canada
This Saturday is Boxing Day in Canada and what would Boxing Day be without a doubleheader of all Canadian teams? Well, a tripleheader of all-Canadian teams, but then what use would there be for Hockey Day in Canada? I digress...
To open up the post-Christmas season on HNIC, the Canadiens are in Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs. The rivalry heats up again and hopefully both teams are so full of Christmas cheer that they want to beat the living snot out of each other on the ice. Sounds good to me. Maybe Santa brought each team a chance to make the playoffs and they'll pull at it like a Christmas cracker.
In the late game, the Northwest Division probably got a stack of coal to throw at one another, meaning that the Oilers & Canucks game in Vancouver will be a bit of a grudge match, as they're chucking their crappy Christmas presents at one another. That could be pretty good. They better save some for the furnace, as neither team has played very well of late and they'll need to keep warm, if they all get chucked out on their asses by the scrooges they call coaches.