You know, not having your alarm go off in the morning really puts a damper on getting everything done on time for the hockey pool newsletter, but I'm getting it done as quickly as possible today, trying to finish up before tonight's action.
The jersey race for the first nine weeks came down to the last night, as Chris M. entered the dayand evening's worth of action only 2 points behind Allan S. for the first jersey prize and it was a close race all day. When it was all said and done though, Allan had held onto his lead and he received first pick of the three jerseys that are available to choose from this season.
As soon as Allan decides, hopefully I'll be able to present it to him and get a picture of it for the blog. Gotta love prize pictures, right?
Well, the waiver draft has concluded and the draft will not be updated until the picks have been entered and activated, which may or may not be on Monday night, so hold tight. No one will lose out on any points, just because their team hasn't been updated yet. It's a relatively light night in the league, so I don't think any of us will be missing out on too much anyways.
After a pretty hairy start to the season, the Buffalo Sabres are slowing turning things around and the reason for the turnaround is the revitalization of their number one goaltender, Ryan Miller, who is Week Nine's Player of the Week. The Sabres only played in two games this week, but Miller earned shutout wins in both of them for 8 points and is also running a 148:11 shutout streak into Week Ten.
The Sabres only played on Friday and Saturday in Week Nine, first against Columbus and then against Ottawa the next night. Against the Jackets, Miller only had to make 19 saves to earn the first 4 points of the week, while the Senators took him through overtime and into the shootout, where he made 32 saves in regulation and overtime and then two more saves (watching a miss as well) in the shootout for the last 4 points of the week. That should go down as a very impressive week.
In total through nine weeks, Miller now has 22 points on the season in the pool, which ranks him 64th in the league in scoring, 18th among goalies and if he has found his groove, which he appears to, he could be making his climb up the ranks, which could be trouble for everyone.
Six of the nine weeks this season has seen goaltenders take the Player of the Week nods this season, I'm really hoping to see some skaters start scoring in leaps and bounds, trying to edge up the ranks this season.
Week Nine is kind of the best/worst week to get a mention in the newsletter in the Mover and Shaker or Basement Dweller nods, but we'll start with the best week, as this team already had a good jump on everyone, before getting their improvements activated in the next week.
The Mover and Shaker for Week Nine was Allan S., who not only had the best week for points in the pool, he ended up taking top spot in the standings as well, earning himself the jersey prize for the first segment of the season. Allan finished up with 38 points, bringing his segment total to 251 points, the best in all the draft. This is also Allan's second Mover and Shaker nod in the last three weeks, so it should come as no wonder that he took top spot in the standings after this week.
Guiding Allan to top spot in Week Nine was Pekka Rinne, who led his team with 6 points, followed by James Neal, Brent Seabrook and Antti Niemi, who all had 4 points, while Matt Duchene, Mike Ribeiro and Antoine Vermette finished with 3 points each.
Remarkably, Allan wasn't going to make a move in the waiver draft in Week Nine, passing in the first round on Thursday night, but when Sunday rolled around, his best player in the week, Rinne, ended up going down with a knee injury, which might cost the Predators starting goalie upwards of four weeks on the shelf. This wasn't going to do, so he made the move to drop Rinne and pick up Corey Crawford from the Blackhawks, just before the weekend expired. The move will likely ensure that he keeps a beat on the lead that he has built up thus far.
On the flip side of the coin, it wasn't a great week to be the Basement Dweller in the pool, because the waiver draft order was set at the beginning of the week and falling down in the standings means that this team goes into the tenth week at somewhat of a disadvantage or a cold streak.
It was probably more than a cold streak for Larry D. in Week Nine though, as he finished with a pool-low 10 points, which is the lowest week, with a full slate of games from Monday to Sunday, this season. Larry had fallen down from 6th place in the standings down to 10th with the low week, which probably would have netted him some better picks in the pool, but what can a guy do, really?
In the waiver draft, Larry will try to make amends to his team with a couple new faces, as he picked up Rick DiPietro of the Islanders and Brent Johnson of the Penguins, as he tries to revitalize his team from the crease outwards. DiPietro has been starting to get some more of the quality starts on the Island, while Johnson has been playing well in a greater number of starts in Pittsburgh, so this is definitely a start. Good goaltending is the foundation to a prosperous season.
Looking back at some of the numbers already this season, it has been a pretty good race between two teams at the top of the standings, as both Mitch F. and Wes M. have been battling it out and switching spots for the last month and a bit, holding on to the top two spots in the pool this year. I think we'll have some more competition coming up from the ranks as well, as some teams are making a push after some trades over the past few weeks.
Unfortunately for everyone, Mitch F. did have the best week in the pool, so he deserves to have top spot in the standings after Week Nine, picking up 85 points at the 1/3 mark of the season. Mitch's ascent to the top was guided by Ryan Miller (8 points), Tim Thomas (7), Roberto Luongo (6), Henrik Zetterberg (5), Alex Steen (5) and six other players with 4 points each. What a great week Mitch had from his goaltending, his top three players came out of the crease and none too soon either.
Having the best week in terms of moving up the standings was Dorey F., who had made some trades and finally got some traction, moving up 4 spots from 31st to 27th in Week Nine. Trading for Tim Thomas, Jonathan Ericsson and Thomas Vanek really paid dividends for her and now she's on her way up to catch the rest of you buggers.
I've received a few trades already for the start of Week Ten, but not too many. I'm getting the feeling that the trading rush season has already passed by and now it will be people who are just finding out they have trades or just using up their last ones will be done from now on.
NEWS AND NOTES
The triumphant return of Joffrey Lupul to the Ducks line-up meant that someone had to come out of the line-up and that lucky guy was Box 8 forward Dan Sexton. On Sunday, he was again demoted to the AHL and this time, it could be for a bit longer of a term than just the team saving on annual cap space.
The return of Ales Kotalik to the Flames line-up meant that Mikael Backlund was the odd-man out and was the healthy scratch for the team, as they took on the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday evening. Backlund has been bouncing around the top and bottom-six in the line-up for a while now and looks like he was the easiest to remove from the line-up.
Bad news for the Chicago Blackhawks in their win over the Flames on Sunday night, they lost the services of Patrick Kane to a lower-body injury after falling awkwardly into the boards in the 1st period. The team would only confirm that he was lost to the injury and gave no real update to his condition or how long he'll be out.
The word out of Columbus is that Kristian Huselius may have suffered a setback from his sprained ankle. He was originally scheduled to miss six weeks with the injury, which would have the forward back in the line-up next weekend, but he has yet to start skating and is not expected back in the Blue Jackets line-up until after Christmas now.
Going into Sunday's game against the Rangers, the Ottawa Senators were in the midst of a major scoring drought, so some roster moves needed to be done, including the scratching of Peter Regin, as they brought up Bobby Butler from the AHL. Regin was suggested to be the favoured scratch, as he would prove to be less of a distress to team chemistry than anyone else.
An injury update for Dion Phaneuf suggests that he could be ready to go for the Maple Leafs by the end of Week Ten, as he has missed the last month with a lacerated leg. At only four or five weeks away from the line-up, the Leafs may have gotten off kind of easy with the nature of the injury that Phaneuf had suffered. The Leafs could definitely use a little more help on their blueline.
A double shot against the Canucks on Sunday, as they went into the game without the services of Mason Raymond and Andrew Alberts, because of the flu, while Mikael Samuelsson was in a collision in the game against the Blues and suffered a mild concussion. Raymond and Alberts should be back in the line-up soon, while Samuelsson should be out for at least a week.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
Four of the league's top ten pool scorers will be featured in Week Ten's edition of Hockey Night In Canada on Saturday night, as the Montreal Canadiens will visit the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Tampa Bay Lightning continue a trip to the Northwest with a trip to Vancouver to face the Canucks.
Unfortunately, this week... that's all you're gonna get this week.