Welcome to the first newsletter of 2010! The season is in full-stride and we're pretty well halfway through the season, as every team is coming up around the 41-game mark of the season and we're coming up to the second Waiver Draft of the Draft pool and that means we're almost ready to give away another jersey this year. That's great news, I say!
Now that we're going into Week Fifteen, we really have to start looking at what's available for players in the Draft, which you can do today, as the link has been active for a couple weeks already and you should do your homework, because there is very little separation between teams and you could still move up a fair bit when your new players become active.
Let's start this New Year with some really competitive pooling and hopefully we'll have a hell of a finish! I know that's what I'd like to see this year.
In Week Fourteen, I thought I would make a team-oriented question, which seemed rather straight-forward. How do you think the Senators will do now that they have some key injuries in their line-up for the long-term. As you well know, both Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson are out, but we'll see how they fared in the poll.
With 10 votes this week, the Senators have a lot of support to still make the playoffs and not fall off the edge. 70% of the votes suggested that idea, while 30% thought they would fall off the map and miss the playoffs this year. Those were the only two suggestions that garnered any votes, but that's fine by me.
For Week Fifteen, it's a double vote this week. First of all, since we're almost ready to give away a prize, I want to know which Winter Classic jersey you would want more. The Flyers jersey with Simon Gagne or the Bruins jersey with Milan Lucic on the back? I know, Lucic didn't play, but that's okay... its still a pretty awesome jersey.
Secondly, I would like to know which available player for the second Waiver Draft you would prefer to take. Mason Raymond of the Canucks, Antoine Vermette of the Blue Jackets, Marc-Andre Bergeron on the Habs, Ian White of the Leafs, Antti Niemi of the Hawks or Tuukka Rask of the Bruins. Those are the top two of each position in the pool... have your say this week.
Another close race for the Mover & Shaker shout in Week Fourteen and it came right down to the wire again, with four games played on Sunday afternoon/evening. In the end, it was Clayton who capped off the week with a pool-high, 36 points, which is the lowest M&S total since Week Seven. The last six weeks saw 40+ points for the title, which is ironic, because this is the highest scoring week in the pool since Week Nine and the 2nd highest week since Week Seven.
With the big week, Clayton managed to close up the gap to the money, as he continues to sit in 5th spot in the standings. Clayton now sits 7 points out of 3rd place after picking up 4 points on the position in the week.
Clayton had only one active player on his team with a goose egg in the weekly points and that was Jonas Gustavsson, while Jamie Langenbrunner had 6 points, Roberto Luongo, Patrik Elias, Scott Gomez and Bobby Ryan all had 4 each. That's pretty good for spreading the scoring around and was enough for him to take the top spot.
Clayton doesn't lead any of the major statistical categories in the pool this year, but currently ranks second in points-per-game for his skater, being one of two teams over the 0.7 ppg in the pool, with 0.715 ppg. That's a pretty solid average, but he only ranks 8th in games played by his players, so he'll need to solve the health issue at the Waiver Draft.
Right, so now... what are the standings for the jersey, you ask? How about I tell ya. After Week Fourteen, we now have two more weeks of action left and the race only got tighter and it might not be a 2-horse race after all. Sure, Dale B. still leads the standings with 199 points since the beginning of Week Nine, with Leon only 3 points behind at 196. Now, we have both Wayne (193) and Benson (191) coming from behind to give the top two headaches. This is pretty exciting, don't you think? Be sure to vote in the poll for which Winter Classic jersey you prefer... I want to know.
With a Mover & Shaker, we're also going to need a Basement Dweller and for Week Fourteen, its a return to the basement for Allan, who finished the week with 19 points, which is the 2nd best finish as a dweller, only 1 point behind the record holder on 20. Let's take the positives out of this, if we can right? Allan was carried forward by his best player, Ilya Kovalchuk, who had 6 points in the week, but he had six players on his active roster that failed to earn a point in the week and that's what hurt the most. With the dweller designation, Allan dropped three positions in the pool, from 7th down to 10th and now sits 32 points out of the money positions. There is still plenty of time and another Waiver Draft, where 30 points isn't the biggest gap, but it will be tough.
This week, we have our first repeat Player of the Week and a third distinction for a team in the pool this season, as Martin Brodeur makes his return to the honour with another 8-point performance in Week Fourteen. Brodeur, a member of Dale C.'s Draft team this year, now has a good grip on top spot in the pool scoring this season with 62 points in 14 weeks. Not only is he breaking records, Brodeur is playing consistent hockey for the Devils, helping them to top spot in the Eastern Conference.
In the week, Brodeur went 3-1-0, including a shutout to reach his 8 points in the week. On Monday, he beat the Thrashers, 3-2, with a 24-save effort. Wednesday, Brodeur made 32 saves to shutout the Penguins, 2-0. Thursday in Chicago, Brodeur lost the last road game of the season, 5-1, making 31 saves in the loss. Finally, Brodeur opened up 2010 on Saturday with a 5-3 win in Minnesota.
Brodeur leads all goalies this season with 26 wins, 2nd in minutes played with 2,240 and is tied for 3rd in shutouts with 4. But that's only 60 points, you say? Brodeur also is tied for 4th in goalie assists with 2 as well. That's 62 points and a 5-point lead on Joe Thornton, who is 2nd in pool scoring this year.
Lead watch on the Sheet... the lead got picked away a little bit more, as John P. might be starting to break a small sweat, with 12 weeks to go in the season. The other six teams in the top seven all picked away at his lead, which now sits at 47 points, after Wes picked away 2 points. Of course, at a 2-point-per-week pace, John will be safe at the top of the standings.
Top week in the pool went to both of Scott G.'s teams, which finished with 76 & 73 points, topping all teams in the pool. We'll talk top team, which is his second choice team, since it finished top of the table in Week Fourteen. The top team now sits in 6th in the standings, only 5 points out of the last money position, which is prime position to pounce from. Unfortunately, Scott has made all the trades he can on this team, so he'll be pooched if injuries occur. Anyways, having the big weeks for Scott in Week Fourteen were, Martin Brodeur (8 points), Miikka Kiprusoff (6), Bobby Ryan (4) and Nicklas Lidstrom (4). It wasn't a big week for players by any means, but if you can get points from active players, you can really move.
With a considerable lack of good scoring this week, there was a considerable lack of good moving up the ranks for any team. Seven teams managed to move up 2 positions each this week, with both of Scott's teams moving up 2 each, so that's good news. Having an awful week was Mike W., who dropped 6 slots in the pool, down to 35th spot. That's not what anyone's after at this time of the season.
Leading the pool in goals scored this season is the 8th ranked team in the standings, Tim L.'s team, which now sits with 311 goals this season. The goals haven't translated into dollars and cents just yet, but he'll get first crack at moving up in tie-breakers, if it comes down to it. John P., who leads the pool, ranks 11th in goals with 280.
Other News and Notes
There was news on Saturday night that Dion Phaneuf left the game with an undisclosed injury and the Flames are keeping pretty tight to the vest about it. Phaneuf reportedly made it to practice and took part, but didn't take part in the fun Skills Competition they had on Sunday afternoon. Still no word as to whether or not he'll miss any time, but we'll have to wait and see. Craig Conroy also missed the competition with an undisclosed injury, which is also very interesting, but the disclosure of information remains just as tight with him.
A quick injury update from Colorado, as it appears that Brett Clark was not a healthy scratch on Saturday night, rather he suffered a facial injury earlier in the week and was not cleared to play on the weekend. Clark may be made available for play this week, if he returns with a full face shield, which means John-Michael Liles may return to the press box this week.
Also on Saturday, the Capitals let Nicklas Backstrom have the rest of the night off after leaving the game with migranes. Word out of Caps camp is that Backstrom does suffer from these migranes fairly often and has left games because of them before. The Swedish winger was back at practice on Sunday and is expected to be in the line-up for the team's next game this week.
In other Captials injury news, it looks like they will be without Semyon Varlamov for a little bit longer, as the goalie suffered another minor injury in his conditioning stint with the Hershey Bears of the AHL, but there is no immediate word as to what the injury is. We should not expect him back as soon as one first thought.
Hockey Night in Canada
Another 13 games going on this Saturday and another doubleheader coming from the CBC... an potentially entertaining one, no less.
It's a CBC favourite in the early game, as the prodigal son returns above the 49th parallel to face the home team. Sidney Crosby and the Penguins will take on Jonas Gustavsson and the Maple Leafs on Saturday, but the match-up really ends there. The Leafs have not been good still and the Penguins continue to roll, so if you're carrying Penguins players into this game, you may want to get a bucket to collect all your points.
In the late game, its the Northwest Division battle that most of us in the pool really look forward to for a Saturday night. The Flames are in Vancouver to take on the Flames, as two Canadian Olympians go head-to-head, Jarome Iginla versus Roberto Luongo.