Monday, January 24, 2011

Week Sixteen Newsletter

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Week Sixteen has now come and gone and it was the last big week in the schedule before the All-Star break in Week Seventeen.  The week was one of the busier ones in the season, with 51 games played between Monday and Sunday, but with injuries really taking their toll on the rosters in both pools, the scoring really hasn't quite been there, like it has in other years.

In the draft, it's a lot harder to really give a good comparison, since we have a few more teams in the pool than in previous years, so there are more players drawing points from games, but if you were to have a look at the injury and news page, it is actually quite surprising how many players from the draft are currently on the list.  Those are skater games disappearing with every day and points are not getting picked up from these players.

In the average NHL game this season, the draft pulls 10.7 points out of it and throws it wildly into the standings of the draft, moreso to the top teams in the standings than the bottom teams, but wildly nevertheless.      Most of the worst weeks come around the end of the segments, when injuries have taken their toll and we, as a group, begin to drop the injured players and pick up fresh ones in the waiver draft, which we will do again soon.  Those poor weeks, we're drawing less than 10 points per NHL game in the schedule.

In the selection sheet pool, we have yet to see a really amazing week in scoring terms.  I thought by now, we would have seen at least one week of 100 points or more from a team, but we're barely seeing 80-point weeks on a regular basis.  Every team has 32 players on it, so I would think that some teams would have gotten there by now.

Here's hoping that business picks up down the homestretch... after the All-Star Break, of course.

PhotobucketTo start the weekly recap off, we have to start with a tie-breaking procedure for the Player of the Week nod. The highest point total of the week was 8 points, shared by a couple of goalies, of all players, so the tie-breaking procedure should be straight-forward. First, number of wins, for the actual standings tie-break, then the smallest number of games. If we don't have a winner then, it may get arbitrary.

Through the first two tie-breaks, we have three wins and one shutout, so I'm going to break it down into the most saves in the week. And our winner, with 106 saves in three games in Week Sixteen was...

Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins!  Yes, Thomas earns his first Player of the Week nod this season after going 3-0-0 in the week and raising his overall points total to 63 points this season, good enough for 3rd overall in pool scoring.

Thomas started his week out by shutting out the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday, making 31 stops in the process.  Tuesday, in the second half of the home and home series, Thomas made 43 stops to pick up his second win of the week, already having 6 points before anyone else really left the gate.  Finally, on Saturday night, Thomas finished his week off with a 32-save performance in Denver, beating the Avalanche to bring his weekly total up to 8 points.

Thomas now leads all goalies in pool scoring, having a 3-point lead on his nearest competitor, as we head into the All-Star shortened week, which gives him a pretty good shot at leading all goalies in points at the break.  There isn't a trophy for that at all, but maybe there should be.

PhotobucketNow, to the Mover and Shaker of the week and I'm really getting tired of writing about this team, in the good sense or the bad sense, because it seems like this team is attention hogging. Can't say I'm a big fan of that at all.  With 37 points in Week Sixteen, the top spot in the week belongs to Clayton C., who closed the gap between 18th and 17th down to 11 points, which started the week out at about 25 points.

The race for the Mover and Shaker was actually a pretty good one and it ran really well in the weekend, when there was about three or four teams into the 30-point range and trading the lead back and forth.  Surprisingly, it was the goaltending tandem on Sunday that put Clayton over the top in the week and it was the back stops that really carried him all week, when it really came down to it.

Clayton's team was led by Martin Brodeur, who finished with 8 points, and Sergei Bobrovsky, who had 6 points, while Jeff Carter and Mike Richards each had 5 points and Logan Couture and Pavel Kubina each had 4 points.  Those are some pretty decent numbers, which had to lead  the way while there are still a couple of injuries that Clayton is dealing with on his team.

Clayton's team remains below-average, when it comes to points from all three positions in the draft, forwards, defense and goaltending, so there isn't really anything too amazing from his squad.  The most redeeming quality from his team is that it ranks 9th in points-per-game from his skaters, but they also ranked tied for last in total games played, which is the only real indication of how his season has gone.  His goaltending ranks 16th in point production and 16th in total minutes played.  It's really kind of a shock that this team has found the Mover and Shaker column twice this year.

In the jersey race, which only has two weeks (okay, a week and a half, because of the All-Star Break) left to go, it has gotten a bit tighter, but Kristy and Don still lead the way with 221 points, now having a slimmer 5-point lead over Don D. and 13-point lead over Allan S..  Don D.'s team has been fairly hot in this second segment, so it isn't out of the question that he could come back and swoop a prize this year, the closer it is, the more exciting it becomes.  Don has a slight lead in player games to come in Week Seventeen, having 20 to Kristy and Don's 18, so there's a good chance that the lead will be slimmer for the final week.

PhotobucketAnother team has fallen down to the bottom of the standings with back-to-back Basement Dweller weeks, as Dale C.'s team has not been good or very healthy for the last few weeks.  Dale's team could only muster 13 points in Week Seventeen, now dropping him down into 20th position in the standings, for the first time all season.  It isn't a bad time to drop down to the bottom spot, as we're only a few days away from determining the order in the second waiver draft, so getting first pick overall may be able to get him out of last place.

Dale's best player in Week Sixteen was Joe Thornton, who had 3 points, but seven active players with 0 points in the week were extremely telling.  There have many disappointments on Dale's team this year, which definitely had the potential to compete for top spot in the standings on paper at the beginning of the season, but that's really how the cookie crumbles in the draft, doesn't it?

PhotobucketWe've finally cracked the 1,000-point barrier in the selection sheet pool and it has taken 16 weeks to do so.  I really wish I could compare how the previous seasons have gone, but this feels about right.  Five teams have moved into quadruple-digits this week and I would expect a few more to eclipse the mark in this All-Star-shortened week coming up as well.

In the last couple seasons, the leaders have finished up over 1,700 points and it doesn't appear that we'll have quite that kind of pace this season, as teams will likely finish up under that mark this year, unless there is a huge scoring push before the end of the year.

Wes M. continues to lead in the pool through 16 weeks, picking up back-to-back weeks in the lead, but his lead is not safe by any means.  Burc B. has continued his ascent up the rankings and now sits in 2nd, jumping up from 4th and really making a push.

The best scoring team in Week Sixteen belonged to Peter H., who put together an 81-point week, one of the highest we've seen this season, I do believe.  With his big week, he also jumped up a couple of positions in the standings, going up from 19th to 17th, firmly taking hold of a top 20 spot.  Peter owes his big week to Tim Thomas (8 points), Claude Giroux (7), Alex Ovechkin (6), Tyler Ennis (6), Ryan Miller (6), Nicklas Backstrom (5) and three others with 4 points a piece.  Peter has been on a climb of late, coming up from 22nd spot after Week Eleven, he has now moved up five spots in five weeks.  Probably not enough time to really make a real money push though.

Very few trades are coming in these days, as many teams have been rather content with their placement in the pool these days.  I would suggest using up all seven of your trades, if you're at the bottom of the pool, there really is no harm in it.   You might be surprised how far you can move up in the last segment of the season, giving you good reason to use your trades next season.

NEWS AND NOTES

The Atlanta Thrashers were stung by a couple more injuries, this time to two key players, which likely was reason enough for their huge loss to the Lightning on Sunday evening. Both Andrew Ladd and Tobias Enstrom were out of the line-up, joining Evander Kane on the shelf, with minor injuries. Ladd was out with a lower-body injury, while Enstrom injured his hand blocking a shot earlier in the weekend. Both players are day-to-day and will likely be re-evaluated on Monday.

The Boston Bruins received another scare from their number one centre, Marc Savard, on Saturday night, as he was injured when Avalanche defenseman Matt Hunwick hit Savard high along the glass and it looked like Savard suffered another head injury.  The word from the Bruins is that Savard did not show any concussion symptoms after the game, so the team has come away lucky, especially if Savard can dress for the next game.

Things are still not going very well for the Buffalo Sabres, as they are now going to deal with a new injury concern, as Thomas Vanek left Sunday's game against the Islanders with an undisclosed upper-body injury in the 2nd period.  The Sabres have had their season decimated by some key injuries and if Vanek is out for too long, then they could be close to kissing the rest of the season goodbye.  Early on Monday morning, the Sabres placed Tim Connolly on the Injured Reserve with a hip injury, which will now keep the playmaking centre out of the line-up for at least a week.

A bout of the flu was enough to keep Valtteri Filppula out of the Red Wings line-up on Saturday night against the Blackhawks, which opened up the door for prospect Cory Emmerton to make his NHL debut and score his 1st NHL goal. Of course, the flu shouldn't keep Filppula out for much longer than just the one game.

The situation surrounding Tomas Vokoun isn't getting any easier as the days go by. On Sunday, Vokoun was scratched from the Panthers line-up because of an undisclosed injury, making room for Jacob Markstrom to get called up and then eventually make his debut against the Devils.  It has been suggested that the injury is to Vokoun's catching hand, which could be troublesome for the veteran goalie.

Devils rookie Nick Palmieri hasn't seen a great deal of time with the big club this season and now he'll be watching games from the press box, as he is now dealing with an upper-body injury, thought to be a shoulder injury.  No one really chose Palmieri in the selection sheet pool, so no matter how long he'll be out of the Devils line-up, it won't really make much of a difference.

The Rangers have finally made the call down to the AHL, calling up one of their top defensive prospects in Michael Del Zotto.  Del Zotto was demoted early on into the New Year and will finally get some time back up with the Rangers.  The time spent in the AHL was generally fruitful, picking up 7 assists in 8 games, which will hopefully translate into some more offense in the NHL.

The Flyers were without James Van Riemsdyk on Sunday afternoon for their Stanley Cup rematch against the Blackhawks, because their young scoring winger had suffered a lower-body injury earlier in the weekend. By the sounds of things, the injury is considered to be more of a tweak than anything, so Van Riemsdyk may find himself back in the line-up before too long.

The Coyotes blueline is taking a huge beating as of late, having lost the services of Derek Morris before their game against the Kings, having suffered a lower-body injury in the week.  There wasn't a lot of details surrounding the injury, so he'll just be considered day-to-day at the moment.  Also suffering an injury was the newly-acquired blueliner, Michal Rozsival, who left Saturday's game with an undisclosed injury after taking a hard check into the boards.  Rozsival did just return from dealing with a rib injury and it doesn't seem out of line to think that he may have re-aggravated that previous injury.  He's also considered day-to-day right now.

The Lightning were without Ryan Malone on Saturday night against the Thrashers, as he was sitting out with a torso injury.  Tampa is also no stranger to not disclosing injuries to their fullest extent, so all we can suggest is that Malone is day-to-day with his injury for right now and that's about it.  If there is any update, I'll be sure to post something on the blog.

In Saturday night's game against the Flames, Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa lost a fight to Tom Kostopoulos, taking a pretty big shot to the face in the encounter.  Bieksa left the game after the fight, as his eye became quite swollen and he was unable to see out of it for the rest of the evening.  The word is that the swelling has gone down, but he'll still be considered questionable for Monday night's contest against the Stars.

Link to the Injury/News Page

HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA


2011 All-Star Game LogoYes, the week ahead is going to be a short one because of the All-Star Game festivities that begin on Friday this week. We will have Team Lidstrom, playing in the blue jerseys, against Team Staal, playing in the red jerseys, going head-to-head all weekend long. Friday night, team captains Nicklas Lidstrom and Eric Staal, along with their assistant captains, will choose teams in a fantasy draft, which will be televised on TSN.  CBC will then carry both the Superskills competition on Saturday night and then the game itself on Sunday afternoon, which should make for an entertaining weekend of skills.

I think the understanding is that Staal, being the captain of the host team, the Hurricanes, will act as the home team, but that won't necessarily mean he'll get first pick in the draft.  Staal will have Ryan Kesler and Mike Green as his assistant captains for the draft, already forming a pretty good nucleus to the team for the exhibition game.

For Lidstrom's team, the NHL has given the older, more experienced captain a bit more experience and some youthful exuberance in Martin St. Louis and Patrick Kane.  St. Louis and Kane will act as Lidstrom's assistant captains for the weekend's festivities, including the draft, which could be very entertaining, if Kane gets a hold of the microphone.

I generally look forward to the All-Star weekend, it's a good way to take a break in the season, celebrating the skill that the NHL has to offer.
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