Having a look at last year's Newsletter entry, I'm finding that this season is about a week ahead, as the Week Fourteen Newsletter was the first entry of 2010. Yikes, can't really compare to that, can I?
Well, maybe I'll highlight some good comeback stories for the 2011 season, thus far, in terms of where players finished last year and where they are now.
That list has to be headed up by Carey Price, who has done what was expected of him by the Montreal brass, currently the leading pool goalie (by minutes played) with 51 points, ranking him 6th in the league in pool scoring. Last season, thanks to Jaroslav Halak, he finished in 321st.
Tim Thomas, the 2009 Vezina Trophy winner, was upstaged as well by Tuukka Rask, which saw his stock drop down to 168th in 2010, but now with 48 points to his name, he's come all the way back up to 11th place in the rankings, having a mighty-fine season.
As a depth forward in Chicago, Dustin Byfuglien didn't see the same sort of ice-time that he has now been given as a defenseman in Atlanta and now he's showing off why he deserves that ice-time. In 2010, he finished the season in 243rd in pool scoring, but in Atlanta, he has 41 points in 45 games, ranking him 21st.
Even at 40 years old, there was still a bounceback season in the cards for Nicklas Lidstrom, who, like most of his older Red Wings teammates, fell to rigors of playing a lot of hockey in a short period of time. Lidstrom finished 131st in pool scoring in 2010, but has come back refreshed and ready to win another Norris with 39 points in 42 games, ranking him 26th through 14 weeks.
Finally, the Carolina Hurricanes were a terrible, terrible team in 2010 and Cam Ward was both having a really tough season when he was on the ice and he had also suffered that deep gash on his thigh, which limited his season greatly. Thankfully, in 2011, his game has popped back up to where it should be, with 38 points this season, ranking him 31st in pool scoring, well up from 201st, where he finished last season.
Likely, if you have one of these five players, you probably did so at a pretty good pick and got a super bargain in the pool.
For this week's Player of the Week showdown, we have a couple of goalies who finished with 8 points a piece and we'll have to work out the tie-breaking system for them. Exciting!
The first tie-break will be total wins, since they are the second tie-breaker in the standings, then least number of games played in the week, for better points potential. Saying that, our best player in Week Fourteen was...
Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks! Crawford finished Week Fourteen with a 3-1-0 record with 1 shutout, giving the young Blackhawks goaltender an 8-point week. Crawford has emerged as the go-to-guy in Chicago and is now earning his starts on a regular basis.
Crawford kicked off his week on Monday with a 4-3 win over the Kings, where he made 26 saves to preserve the win. Wednesday night, he dropped a 4-2 decision to the Pacific-leading Stars, only making 18 saves that night. Friday, he made 24 saves through regulation and an overtime period to beat the Senators, 3-2 in the shootout. Finally, on Sunday, the road-weary Islanders came into town and the Blackhawks shut them out with a 5-0 win, Crawford making 29 saves for the 4-point night.
This excellent week that Crawford had has now lifted his point total to 30 points, ranking him 84th in the league in pool scoring, 19th among goaltenders this season. He has emerged as one of the better stories in the 2011 season for players, especially since he was just an AHL call-up last season.
We haven't seen back-to-back Mover and Shaker weeks this season, until now, that is. It wasn't a very good week for scoring in the draft in Week Fourteen, but coming out 4 points better than their closest opponent in the week was Kristy and Don, finishing up the week with 35 points and moving into 1st place in the standings, taking a 1-point lead.
It has been quite the ascent over the past few weeks for a team that was hovering in 5th place for about a month, their team just turned on the jets in the past couple weeks, jumping into 3rd place by the end of last week and now 1st at the end of this week. The trick now will be to stay healthy and stay up in top spot.
The longest streak of any team staying in 1st place this season is only three weeks, which is not very long at all.
The tandem's team was led by Jonas Hiller, who had 8 points in the week (runner-up to the Player of the Week nod), followed closely by Daniel Sedin (7 points), Kris Versteeg (5), Martin Havlat (4) and Eric Staal (4). There were a few zeros on their active roster, but their scoring players in the week were more than capable of vaulting them to the top of the table this week.
Kristy and Don now have a 10-point lead on the second jersey race of the season, thanks to their great stretch of weeks. Their 156 points is better than Don D. (146), Benson G. (144) and Stuart G. (144) at the moment. There are four weeks left in this competition, which means there is also only three more weeks until the second waiver draft begins.
As I was saying earlier, it wasn't a great week for scoring in the draft, as there were five teams in the pool that couldn't get themselves over the 20-point mark in the week. That isn't to say there was a tie, but it was awfully close.
In Week Fourteen, with a total of 12 points, Ryan M. took a bit of a beating in the standings, dropping from 8th place down to 10th place, which has been a consistent slide since his Mover and Shaker week in Week Eleven. Ryan jumped up from 10th to 6th in that week, but has slid down the standings like a cartoon coyote down a rock face, to which he was catapulted into. If his luck continues to drop, there is a good chance he could fall down to 14th, with teams right behind him in close proximity.
Ryan's only player of note in the week was Anze Kopitar of the Kings, who finished with 4 points, one-third of his weekly total. Ryan wasn't able to pick up any points from his goaltending and both of his waiver draft picks from Week Eight have now suffered long-term injuries.
A notable week in the sheet pool as we have a brand new leader through Week Fourteen, as Kendra M., who has used a great deal of her trades this season, six out of seven, to be precise, has hopped up to the top of the heap after a fantastic climb up from 8th spot in Week Four. Kendra now holds a slight 2-point lead in the standings after this past week, but is getting followed close behind by a number of teams ready to pounce.
It was also a fairly low-scoring week in this pool as well, as the top teams in the week scored 69 points a piece. 5th place Burc B. and 14th place Cheryl D. each scored top weeks in Week Fourteen. This week, we'll center on Burc's team, who was led by Daniel Sedin (7 points), Patrick Sharp (6), Henrik Lundqvist (6), Henrik Sedin (5) and three other players with 4 points a piece.
The best moving team in the pool during the week was Gerald B., who moved up four spots in the standings, going from 22nd to 18th with a 65-point week to his name. Gerald has only made three of his seven trades this season, so there is a bit of room for improvement still.
Having a look at the goaltenders to this point in the season, Jonas Hiller leads Box 15 with 51 points, Corey Crawford leads Box 16 with 30 points, Carey Price leads Box 31 with 51 points and Tim Thomas still leads Box 32 with 48 points. Would those have been your four leading goalies at the beginning of the season?
NEWS AND NOTES
The Avalanche are saying that standout defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is questionable for Monday night's game against the Red Wings because of a sore foot. There wasn't any indication at what point in their last game Shattenkirk was injured, but the fortunate news is that his X-rays did come back negative, so it may just be a matter of comfort in his skate.
The Devils were without Anton Volchenkov on Sunday afternoon, as he was away from the team for personal reasons. Volchenkov suffered the loss of his father this weekend and he was granted time away from the team to join his family. Remarkably, the Devils don't play again until Friday this week, so he'll have plenty of time to get his affairs in order and return to the team.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
The Week Fifteen doubleheader on Hockey Night In Canada will only feature one current playoff team, which may take away from the general meaning of these games, but both games definitely have the potential of opening up and becoming some offensive free-for-alls. That being said, either game could end up being a snoozefest as well.
In the early game, the 14th place team in the West meets the 13th place team in the East, as the Flames travel to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs. Miikka Kiprusoff goes into this game as the leading point-getter between both teams, taking over the Flames lead in scoring with 38 points, good for 32nd in the overall standings. In this game, we'll be expecting 17 names in the draft playing in this one, possibly plus or minus an injury or scratch, but they should all be there, I figure. That's a pretty busy game.
In the late game, the Kings play host to the upstart Oilers in the late game, as the Kings try to pull out another two points against the last place team in their conference. Jonathan Quick, who ranks 13th in hockey pool scoring this season, with 47 points, leads the way for the Kings this year. Quick has been in net for a good portion of the Kings season and will show his stuff to an Oilers team full of potential. This match-up will feature 22 players in the draft, surprisingly weighted towards the Oilers, who are not the playoff-bound team in this match, having 12 players listed in the draft.