Well, the holiday weekend edition of the newsletter was bound to be late, since I have all the time in the world to write it on a holiday Monday. I was able to get some writing done during the day on a Monday, so why not try to expand it a little bit more than rush it through like most weeks?
That being said, I'm kind of speechless as to what to actually write in the headline section of the newsletter this week. I mean, we had the holiday break, which cut out about two days and lowered scoring for the week, I guess we can look at that briefly.
The NHL did manage to squeeze in 42 games into the shortened week, which was the same amount of games in the league's first full week of action in Week Two, so that was mighty impressive. But with injuries and some extra resting going on, scoring was not the same between the two weeks, as Week Two had 457 points in the draft and Week Twelve only managed 426, which had scoring down almost a point per NHL game.
Thankfully, the NHL will be making up for that lack of games in Week Twelve with 51 games in Week Thirteen, the highest total of games so far this year. I haven't really looked ahead, so I can't quite tell you if this is the highest week this year, but I imagine it is pretty close. The coming week will also bring New Year's Day, which is highlighted at the end of the newsletter, but I think we all know what that means.
Otherwise, I'm still kind of at a loss for a topic of discussion, so let's just kick right into the weekly review!
Well, the initial skim of players for Week Twelve's Player of the Week has given me a number of candidates, six to be exact, that have 7 points a piece, so we'll have to institute the tie-breaking system to get out of this one. This might be difficult.
First, I'm going to eliminate the goalies, since they don't score the goals and that's the first tie-break in the standings, so we are now down to five players. Next, I think I will figure out which players scored 7 points in the least amount of games, since that makes the feat a little more notable. Well, well, well... only one of the five players remaining scored 7 points in three games this week, leaving Henrik Zetterberg as our Player of the Week for Week Twelve.
Even in the shortened schedule for the holiday break, a good number of teams managed to fit in four games, while the Red Wings were just as potent playing three. Zetterberg started the week on Wednesday with a 3-point night against the Canucks in a 5-4 overtime win, to which he scored the winner in. Thursday, the Red Wings fell 4-3 to the Blues, but Zetterberg still managed to pick up a pair of assists in the loss. Finally, on Sunday, the Red Wings beat up on the Wild, where Zetterberg tallied a goal and an assist, polishing off his 7-point week.
Zetterberg now has 40 points in 35 games for the Red Wings, which ranks him 13th in pool scoring this season and is among three Red Wings players that are in the top 10 in pool scoring. If you were betting on a bounce back season for the Red Wings, you should be cashing in about now.
The other five players that also had 7 points in Week Twelve were Sidney Crosby, Henrik Sedin, Evgeni Malkin, Martin St. Louis and Tomas Vokoun.
The slightly unbalanced schedule didn't really help scoring in Week Twelve, but at least we didn't have a tie to break for the Mover and Shaker nod. Chris M. returned to the top of the heap, both in weekly scoring (his 2nd nod) and in the standings (his 1st time back up top since the end of Week Eight).
Chris finished Week Twelve with 32 points, which was only 1 better than his nearest contender, but was 13 better than our former leader. Chris will now take a 9-point lead into Week Thirteen thanks to his moving and shaking week.
Two of the weekly runner-ups for Player of the Week were actually his, which was obviously the leading cause of his great week, as both Martin St. Louis and Tomas Vokoun stepped up with 7 points each to lead the way. Chris also had a pretty good week from Mikael Samuelsson, who had 5 points, and waiver draft pick-up Alex Burrows, who had 4 points.
Chris' greatest asset this season has been his goaltending, as Vokoun and Roberto Luongo have provided the best overall total in scoring from the crease in the pool through 12 weeks, scoring 74 points between the two of them. His two goalies have more points than the combination of five defensemen he has had this season, dropping one at the waiver draft. Interestingly enough, Chris' tandem has only played the 4th-most minutes in the pool and has a points per 60 minutes ratio that is only 3rd, but it is a pretty good combination to lead in the most important stat in that position.
As for the jersey race in the second segment, our current leader is Stuart G., who has 94 points in the first three weeks of the segment. Stuart currently holds an 8-point lead on Chris, who made up some ground this past week and a 13-point lead on his little brother Benson G..
In some respects, Clayton C. can blame the unbalanced holiday schedule for the lack of scoring in Week Twelve, losing out on a few players only playing a few games, but that wasn't really an excuse for the number of players that he has that actually figured into the schedule more times than once and just didn't score. Frankly, it has just been and underwhelming season for his team and a 3rd trip to the Basement Dweller spot this year is the perfect confirmation of that.
Clayton's team only managed to pick up 8 points in Week Twelve and is in danger of being 100 points behind the pool leader before too long, which, if it hasn't already, should squash his hopes of ever making a comeback in the season. This 8-point week came directly after having a couple weeks of over 30 points, but since his team is in 19th in the standings, it feels more like he had the week he was supposed to.
In the selection sheet pool, the race remains fairly tight at the top, which has to be exciting for those in the mix at the moment. We have 12 teams that have eclipsed the 700-point plateau in scoring and since we haven't even hit the midway point of the season, that should give plenty of hope to all of them for finishing in the top four of the standings. Mitch F. still holds a slight lead of 5 points over Wes M. in the standings, but neither had the best week scoring wise, so some teams in behind did make some ground in the week.
The best scoring performance in the pool in Week Twelve belonged to Ryan V., who picked up 70 points in a slightly low-scoring week all around. Ryan made the most of his top end week, also moving up the most positions in the pool, going from 20th to 14th in the standings, which is one of the biggest jumps in quite some time. Of course, Ryan is still 53 points out of 4th place and he's all out of trades for the year, so he'll have to rely on who he has in at the moment for any hope of coming away with any money back.
Ryan's team was led by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who had 7 points each, while Daniel Sedin chipped in with 5 points and Joe Thornton, Vincent Lecavalier, Blake Comeau, Kristopher Letang and Dustin Byfuglien all had 4 points each. It is kind of a rag-tag bunch for Ryan this season, which could be his biggest downfall, but at least he's seen some real positives this year.
Since the Newsletter is a bit late, there is only about five hours to go until puck drop and I only have one trade ready to be entered this week. Maybe I should try and sell a player in a box... how about Kevin Shattenkirk, who had a late jump to the season for the Avalanche, but now leads Box 14 with 19 points, with slight leads over Cam Fowler and Alex Pietrangelo. A good showcase of the rookie blueline class in that box, eh?
NEWS AND NOTES
The holidays have seemingly brought Niklas Grossman a touch of the flu, as he was not able to go for the Dallas Stars against the Coyotes on Sunday night. Grossman did make way for Karlis Skrastins, who was returning from injury. Grossman has been a scratch a few times this season, so I wouldn't be surprised if he found another game or two in the press box before it was all said and done.
Bad news for the Detroit Red Wings, as they have lost their top goal-scorer on Sunday night, as Dan Cleary left the game against the Wild with a fractured left ankle. I would have to believe that this injury will likely cost Cleary about 3-to-4 weeks, but there has been no confirmation from the team as of yet.
Tough news for the Senators, as they may be without Jason Spezza for an extended period of time, due to a shoulder injury that he suffered against the Penguins on Sunday night. Spezza will have his shoulder re-evaluated in about a week's time, which could determine a longer stay on the injured list or not. Reports are suggesting that he may miss upwards of six weeks, but no party in Ottawa wants to confirm that at this point.
The standards of play in Phoenix are ever-rising it seems, as both Radim Vrbata and Oliver Ekman-Larsson were healthy scratches for the Coyotes' game against the Stars. With Wojtek Wolski even finding his way to the press box, players better be playing at 100% or else they will find their way out of the line-up.
I don't think the Capitals are completely out of the woods (their recent losing streak/bad play) and you can tell by the names that are being scratched out of the line-up. Both Eric Fehr and Tom Poti were victims of the healthy scratch on Sunday night against the Hurricanes and a win was in the books. I would imagine that a win will keep the line-up the same, barring any horrible efforts on the ice.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
It'll be a Happy New Year on Saturday, if the triple-header goes down as scheduled. Yes, this coming Saturday will be Januray 1st and we all know what that means! The Winter Classic!
Unfortunately, the early weather reports for Saturday are suggesting that the hockey game may run into some hiccups. Some warmer weather and the possibility of rain has the NHL and Winter Classic crew on high alert, so the game has the possibility of being moved to Sunday, so we'll all have to keep that in mind.
If the game does happen to go ahead, it will be a good match-up between Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, the big rivalry that the NHL is really selling the shit out of. Crosby leads the league (and the pool) in scoring with 61 points through 12 weeks of action, while Ovechkin is currently 10th in pool scoring with 41 points. Nevertheless, it should be a pretty good game, as both teams also polish off the HBO series 24/7 with the end of this game, which has been a pretty good series, if you haven't checked it out yet.
Not only is the Winter Classic going on, we have an all-Canadian regular broadcast to celebrate the coming of 2011, with the Maple Leafs visiting the Senators and the Flames going up to Edmonton for a tilt against the Oilers. Nothing better than a couple more rivalries to round out the night, eh?
Going into the Battle of Ontario, the most notable player in pool scoring is Brian Elliot, who has 30 points this season for the Senators, while the Leafs are currently led by Clarke MacArthur, who has 27 points. Neither team are going into Week Thirteen in a playoff spot, but I don't think that will take away from the intensity of the game.
The Battle of Alberta will likely be a lot of the same as their Eastern Canadian cousins, as neither the Flames or the Oilers are in a playoff spot and neither will be close to one when this game rolls around either. Jarome Iginla of the Flames leads all players in this game with 33 points in 36 games this season, while the Oilers are being led by defenseman Ryan Whitney, who has 28 points in 34 games. Nevertheless, this should still work out to be a pretty good game.