Welcome everyone to a brand new hockey season here at OpiatedSherpa.com, we're definitely in for another fun season with the draft in full flight and the selection sheet pool just rounding out into form. Once my draft prizes have arrived and the correct number of participants have been entered into the pools, I will be announcing what we are all playing for in 2011 and I can say I've got some fun prizes already picked out, much like last year.
I am so pleased to have 20 teams in the draft this year. The draft was a little bit deeper than the last three years of 17 teams, but the time spent at the bar was just about the same, so that was a really big plus. I think we'll definitely go with the same setup next year, it worked out really well, even with the two teams out of town for the evening.
I've changed up the look of the newsletter a little here on the blog for the coming season, I thought an update was needed, since the old animated graphics were already three years old. Hopefully the new graphics are a little more pleasing on the eye. Otherwise, it will be the same sort of content for the week.
I've decided to start the newsletter off with the Player of the Week mentions, since I would normally talk about the same player in the Mover & Shaker column and it would kind of defeat the buzz. So, this year... the Player of the Week will be the headline stat for the draft recap and I think we can all appreciate that in the end.
Week One was only four days long, Thursday through Sunday, and most teams only played two games, some only played one each, so the numbers will be a tad low this time around. Still, two games is more than enough for a goalie to get a respectable number and with that, I can announce that Nikolai Khabibulin is our first PoW of the season.
Despite some off-season issues, Khabibulin has shown up to Oilers camp much healthier and ready to perform. He kicked off the year with a 37-save shutout against the Calgary Flames, picking up his first 4 points of the year and then capped off the week with a 26-save win against the Florida Panthers on Sunday. In total, that was a 6-point week in just 120 minutes of ice-time for the Russian goaltender.
The question marks for the Oilers going into the season had a lot to do with how the team's youth would adjust to the faster pace and the longer schedule, as well as how will the goaltending fare with three keepers and their number one having legal problems in Arizona. These questions are being answered slowly, but Khabibulin will still have to deal with his issues down South, but everyone will cross that bridge when they get there.
Runner-up for the mention of PoW was Tim Thomas, who finished up with a shutout and an assist in his only game for the Bruins, a shutout win in Prague against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Opening up the season as our Mover and Shaker means that he has started out in 1st place in the standings, which has not been the best of omens in the pool these last few years.
Newcomer to the pool, Jani K. opened up the season with 22 points to take 1st place after the first week, but he only holds a 1-point lead after four days in the pool, so his lead is far from safe... especially with 26 weeks left to play this season.
Jani's team was blessed with a lot more consistency through these early games more than some huge individual efforts and that's a pretty good way to start the year. Only three of his players on the roster failed to register a point in Week One. His team was led by J-S Giguere, who led the Maple Leafs to a 2-0-0 start and 4 points in the pool. Valtteri Filppula and Travis Zajac each picked up 3 points in the opening games, while four others picked up 2 points each.
Further to the curse of the Week One Mover and Shaker, last season John P. opened up the season with 20 points in the stunted part of the schedule, but he ended up dropping all the way to the bottom of the pool before it was all said and done, finishing 17th. In 2009, Dale C. opened up with 9 points in an even more stunted schedule and finished in 8th place, far more respectable than last. Finally, in 2008, Marcus opened up in 1st place after a couple of days worth of action and finished 16th of 17. The curse is there, but this could be the year its broken and we have a wire-to-wire winner... stay tuned!
With a Mover and Shaker, we have to have a Basement Dweller... and after Week One, we have a clear donkey at the bottom of the standings. Chris M. only managed to pick up 7 points in 20 games played and 124 minutes from his goaltending. His scoring leader for the week was Jason Arnott of the Devils, who picked up 2 points in the opening two games for New Jersey. There were a lot of zeros for the rest of his team, but its still so early in the year.
For Chris, his team should be able to bounce back, looking at his roster and all the talent on there, he should be fine.
For argument's sake, let's look at the past three seasons to see how the Basement Dweller has fared after starting the year in the dark. In 2010, Clayton C. and Peter H. both opened up the year with only 9 points to their name. Clayton finished 8th, while Peter ended up 15th in the standings. Neither finish could be considered too exciting, can they? In 2009, the stunted start saw five teams fail to register a point and two of them finished in the top three, but with so few games played, it really didn't make too much of a difference to the overall scheme of things. Finally, in 2008, it's the same story as 2009, with so few games, seven teams finished without points and three of them finished in the top five. I guess the 2010 year is the best reference for this, since there were more games played.
The Sheet Stat Pack won't be too deep today, as I'm still entering some teams into the mix. I have an agreement with some people, who have teams in their hands and are still coming to me. With Week Two opening early on Canadian Thanksgiving Monday (or the American Columbus Day), I'm not terribly worried about people taking top scorers, as late entries with top scorers have not had much success in the overall scheme of things, not taking into account the rest of the season hurts a lot of their selections.
At the time of this publication, I have 31 teams entered into the selection sheet pool, which had an opening week leader with 41 points (Mitch F.) and a basement dweller of 22 points (Yvette L.) to start the year. This may or may not be the case of how this all finishes up, but once we're all set to go, I will have all the team links posted and the updates will be daily as the season continues on. A lot of that initial set-up is a little too time consuming to do it over and over, so please bear with me.
Remember, every team gets seven trades through the year, so please don't be afraid to e-mail (phone or instant messager works too) me with some changes to your teams. Any changes that are made during the week will be activated at the beginning of the next week, so if you want to make any changes, it is best to make your final decision on Sunday or just before puck drop on Monday, because they will be activated then.
NEWS AND NOTES
A couple more injury hits to the Calgary Flames line-up occurred on Sunday night against the Los Angeles Kings. Box 14 defenseman Adam Pardy left the game after only 43 seconds of ice-time with an apparent shoulder injury. He didn't return to the game. A little later on in the 1st period, Box 2 forward Rene Bourque got hit up high by the Kings' Kevin Westgarth and he had to be re-evaluated for an upper-body injury, which may be a concussion. This news will not sit well with the team or the poolies to start the season.
Scary news for Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars, as the Box 6 forward will be undergoing concussion testing after getting leveled by the Islanders' James Wisniewski on Saturday night. That definitely isn't the way anyone wants to start their season, but it's definitely one of the risks these guys have to play against at every point in the season. If the concussion tests come out positive, Benn will miss at least a week, likely more. I will provide an update when it comes down the line, likely later on Monday or early Tuesday.
I wouldn't have pegged Box 20 forward Steve Reinprecht as a healthy scratch, but there he was in the scratches box of the Panthers' opening game on Sunday night against the Oilers. With how the Panthers looked to be built, Reinprecht should have been good enough to go for Florida, but surprise, surprise! I would imagine he'll get to play, but he may have been phased out to start the year, which would also likely put him on the trade block.
On Saturday night, the Predators got a scare with their number one goalie, Pekka Rinne, leaving their game against the Ducks, after being run over by Troy Bodie. Rinne left the game with a lower-body injury, replaced by rookie Anders Lindback to complete the win (Rinne got credit for the win). Rinne, the Box 15 goalie, is said to have a minor lower-body injury and will get an extra couple days rest to recover before their next game, Wednesday against Chicago.
The Devils are being hush-hush on a lower-body injury suffered by Box 23 forward Brian Rolston, not commenting on whether or not he'll play in Monday afternoon's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rolston left Saturday night's affair in the 2nd period with the ailment and didn't return. It didn't sound like he skated on Sunday, so we'll be considering him day-to-day if he doesn't go tonight.
The Senators believe that Box 20 forward Alex Kovalev has suffered a minor injury on Saturday night, which caused him to leave the game and not return. From the posts that I was reading on Monday morning, Kovalev was back at practice, playing with a new line to start against the Capitals in Washington on Monday night.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
Well, we'll finish the week's newsletter off with the usual blurb on the upcoming Hockey Night In Canada festivities this coming weekend. It's an all-Canadian team evening this coming Saturday, with the Senators heading to Montreal to take on the Canadiens, while in the late game, it will be the Oilers and Flames renewing the rivalry again.
Of the four teams participating in the HNIC proceedings, the most popular in the draft is the Edmonton Oilers with 11 picks in the pool. There is plenty of excitement around this team, so there should be plenty of eyes focused on that late game. The Flames have nine players in the draft, giving that game 20 players in the pool altogether.
The Senators have 10 selections in the draft, while the Canadiens only have eight picks. It should still be a fairly exciting game for those involved.