Happy Halloween! Hopefully you've seen some more treats than tricks from your pool team in the last week, or even the month, for that matter. October is a very scary month for a number of players and teams, so we should almost be expecting some turns in fortune, which could/should make these pools a little more interesting for the stretch runs.
The schedule is panning out quite well now, Week Three saw 46 games in the NHL, Week Four saw 47 and we'll be seeing another 47-game week in Week Five, so the games will be plentiful and hopefully the points will be too.
In the draft, we've seen back-to-back weeks of 500+ points collected, averaging over 11 points per NHL game played in the week, so hopefully your team is collecting in on the bounty that is before us.
In Week Five, I should finally be announcing what the prizes are for the pools, I haven't quite gotten around to it, but I should be getting it done soon. Please be sure to get all of your monies in to me when you can, I would sure like to pay everyone out when the season ends. I know, there is lots of time, but let's be sure.
Let's have ourselves a fun week in Week Five, but first, let's see who did all the damage in Week Four!
It's great to see a fresh face on the Player of the Week, instead of the same old superstars that do magnificent things, week in and week out. In Week Four, it was a marvelous week from the Flyers' Scott Hartnell, who managed to hit the scoresheet a number of times in a .500 week for the club. Hartnell picked up 9 points to lead all players, one of the best weeks from a skater this season.
The Flyers played in four games in Week Four and Hartnell managed to post at least a point in each of the games, which has started a new 4-game point streak, not carrying over any games from Week Three.
On Monday against the Leafs, Hartnell posted a couple of goals, including the winner, and an assist for a 3-point effort and a good start to the week. Wednesday in Montreal, the Flyers were not very good, dropping a 5-1 decision to the Habs, but Hartnell did pick up an assist on the only goal for the club. Thursday at home to the Jets, it was the barn burning 9-8 loss, where Hartnell only picked up a goal and an assist in the loss. Would have thought he would have picked up more in a big game and week, eh? Finally, on Saturday night in a 5-1 win over the Hurricanes, Hartnell had a goal and 2 assists, capping off a very good week.
With the big week, that brings Hartnell's season totals up to 11 points in 11 games and has jumped into the top 30 in pool scoring. At a point-per-game pace early on, Hartnell is looking like a very good bargain pick-up this year and may continue to be a bargain, as he is playing on a line with Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr.
Last season, it was the third week of the season when the draft pool first broke the 40-point barrier, so we're a week behind in that regard, but it was Week Eleven last season when we had our second team to do it, where as we had two teams break the 40-point mark in Week Four, making the race awfully close through Sunday's action. That's fairly impressive. In the end, it was Clayton C.'s team that took the weekly mark and made some impressive gains up the standings, thanks to a 43-point week in Week Four, jumping up in the standings, from 7th to 2nd in the process.
Clayton's team enjoyed a lot of goal scoring success in Week Four, leading the pool with 13 markers in the pool and also took the pool lead in scoring from the forwards, now having registered 74 points through four weeks of the season. Clayton's team is doing well, despite being in the middle of the pack in games played by skaters and being on the low end of minutes played from his goaltending, but some high scoring rates, including a pool-best 0.84 points-per-game from his skaters is making up for that.
Having a big week for Clayton in Week Four were Claude Giroux (7 points), Brad Boyes (5), Patrick Marleau (5), Joe Pavelski (5), Thomas Vanek (5), Taylor Hall (4), Erik Karlsson (4) and Antti Niemi (4). It was an extraordinary week for a team that actually has two significant injuries and one player who hasn't been able to crack the everyday line-up for his team, so the guys that are playing were able to make up for that, scoring in bunches.
One more comparison to last season, the fourth week of the year was also the same time that teams eclipsed the 100-point mark and with two more teams in the pool and 28 more players taken, we actually had one more team than last season at this time click over into triple-digits, which is something else. Lots of points are being collected by the best teams, creating a great race.
In the basement of the draft this week, Leon G. was having a hard time finding some traction with his team and he was only able to register 12 points, dropping his team down from 8th spot to 16th, with a total of 71 points at the end of the fourth week.
Leon saw a week-low in games played by his skaters at only 26 appearances and only 139 minutes played by his goaltenders, which was below-average for the week. Those are certainly two leading factors to his poor week, where injuries to Mikael Backlund, Brayden Schenn and Mike Green have all added up and now with Tim Erixon in the minors, things do not appear to be getting much better.
Leon's goaltending has been one of his saving graces, but there is only two potential starts for each goaltender and I would imagine that Tomas Vokoun will probably split those starts with Michal Neuvirth this week, so that will also add up a little bit, which doesn't appear to be very good for Leon at all. Leon has a pool-low 27 projected players games this week, so there is a very good chance that we may see him in this spot again in a week's time.
In the Sheet pool in Week Four, we kept the same leader from Week Three to Week Four, as Wes M. continued his reign on the pool, now having 212 points and an 8-point lead to this point in the season. The rest of the pool did quite a bit of shifting, including the immediate spots behind Wes, as Zac H. and Chris G. each moved up a couple of positions to be 2nd and 3rd, while Don D. moved up five spots in the standings to hit 4th spot.
Top spot in scoring in Week Four belongs to Scott G.'s second team, as they picked up a pool-high, 66 points. Scott's team moved up a grand total of nine positions after making some early trades, moving from 29th spot to 20th spot in the week and the team made some good ground (13 points) on top spot in the pool, so a few more weeks like that and we could have a new leader. Scott's team was led by Scott Hartnell (9 points), Jaromir Jagr (7), Steven Stamkos (4) and five players that had recorded 3 points a piece.
The biggest gains in the pool were made by Wendy C., who moved up 10 positions in the pool, going from 19th to 9th with a 61-point effort in the week, followed by a gain of nine, which we know, a couple fives and a four. A couple of teams shared the biggest loss in positions, dropping six spots each, while six teams remained static in the week, not moving at all.
NEWS AND NOTES
Only one new injury to report from Sunday night's games, as of right now, as Oilers defenseman Cam Barker was not able to go for the team on Sunday night against the Blues, thanks to a shoulder injury. There wasn't a large degree of details given as to what Barker is actually dealing with, so he's currently listed as day-to-day, until some more details are released. Barker has 1 goal in the first 10 games of the season, so he hasn't been a great option in the pool this point of the season.
The Oilers are pleased to see winger Ales Hemsky back on the ice in practice these days, as he has been recovering from a shoulder injury and he is now thought to be a week away from returning to the line-up now, as he just works on the strength of the shoulder. Hemsky was pleased with his progress of late and so has the team, so there could be a little added offense coming back to an already dynamite team.
An injury update from the Panthers, as they don't expect to have Mikael Samuelsson in their line-up for at least another week, maybe two, as he struggles to return from some post-surgery soreness in his lower-body. Samuelsson has been out since before the deal that sent him from Vancouver to Florida, but the Panthers are confident that he isn't too far away and that he will be a big help when he arrives.
The Montreal Canadiens are now expecting to have defenseman Andrei Markov back at practice in 1-to-2 weeks, as he has been slowed by complications of a surgically repaired knee. There was some hope that Markov would be back in time to start the season, but that hasn't gone to plan, now already a month into the season, he's still three weeks away from joining the team in game action... in theory.
The Sidney Crosby watch has not gained any steam, as the current report on Sunday morning has the coaching staff saying that they don't expect their captain to dress during this West Coast swing, which starts on Thursday in San Jose. The Penguins will also play in Los Angeles on Saturday, but even with five days between games for Pittsburgh, Crosby is not expected to be ready. This time leading up to the West Coast swing should give him plenty of practice, hopefully with contact, but if we're going by the word of his agent and team, it still doesn't sound very good.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
After a tripleheader in Week Three, I'm usually quite disappointed when Hockey Night in Canada only broadcasts a doubleheader, but what can you do? Enjoy whatever they give us, that's what we can do.
I think with four games scheduled for the 5pm MT time slot, I think it is fair to assume that the national game will be the Maple Leafs hosting the Bruins. Sure, the Leafs have been far more exciting to watch early on this season, but I'm really hoping that they do make an exception and make the national game one of the other three Canadian teams going at the same time for a change. Nevertheless, we'll concentrate on this Northeast Division battle, as the defending Cup champs, who are mired in the bottom of the Eastern Conference travel to Toronto to take on the division leaders, which is quite the table turn in this early part of the year. This week's feature player is the leading defenseman in points between the two teams and going into Week Four, we have Dion Phaneuf, who has 2 goals and 9 assists in 11 games this season for the Leafs, ranking third in the defenseman scoring race.
In the late game, it is the new darling team in the NHL, the Edmonton Oilers, invading the desert and taking on the NHL-owned Phoenix Coyotes. The Oilers are off to one hell of a start, taking the early lead in the Northwest Division with some solid scoring from their prized youth and some excellent goaltending from their tandem. The Coyotes have struggled to find their identity in the early part of the season, but early struggles are usually met with some clever adjustments and the dogs should be back in the mix before too long. Leading the way from the blueline in this game is Keith Yandle, who has picked up 1 goal and 6 assists in the first 10 games for the Coyotes, ranking in the top 20 among blueliners this season.