Monday, October 10, 2011

Week One Newsletter

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It's Monday morning!  That means we have the Newsletter fresh off the press for the poolies after a good four days worth of NHL action to start the season.

The first noticeable point in the pools this season is that the draft and sheet pool seem to be going in opposite directions for the amount of participation each pool is getting.  The draft is up to 22 teams this season, while the sheet, although we're not done entering teams yet on Monday, is down to 23 teams at the moment, which is down from 34 in the 2011 season.  Sure, we'll get a few more entered, but I don't think we'll carry the same number of teams from year to year.

Nevertheless, the real marquee pool is the draft, where some drafting skill really comes into play, so that's the one that should be growing.  Putting 22 teams into the pot thinned out the herd of players for each team, but that should make for some more competitive weeks this year, which is what we all want at the end of the year... a tight race.

An interesting statistic comparing the last two seasons, there were 26 games to open Week One in both years, but with two less teams last season, the teams collected 12 more points.  Week One of the 2011 season collected 292 points between 20 teams, while this season saw only 280 points between 22 teams.

By what we've seen in the first few days of the season, I think we'll be in for a pretty good year, which is exciting for everyone involved.  I hope everyone has a great time again this year and recommends the pool to more friends for the 2013 season!

PhotobucketIt may have been a shortened week to start the NHL season, but that didn't limit the number of good performances that we saw in four days. Two goalies finished with 6 points a piece, tying for the Player of the Week nod, but the number of goals against (as an arbitrary tie-break) worked in favour of the new saviour of the Philadelphia Flyers, Ilya Bryzgalov.

Bryzgalov opened the season with a pair of wins for the Flyers, including a 2-1 win over the defending Cup champs, the Bruins, on Thursday and a 3-0 shutout win over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.

Bryzgalov stopped 42 of 43 shots he faced in those two games and started to hush the critics that thought that the Flyers were crazy to trade away both Mike Richards and Jeff Carter to help make room for his signature on the dotted line.

The last time Bryzgalov took the weekly honour, he was playing for Leon G. in 2010, taking the Week Three honours and helping Leon to the 2010 pool title.  That's certainly worth noting.

PhotobucketFinishing in first place in Week One has not been a good omen over the last couple of seasons in the draft, as the 2011 season Mover and Shaker to start, Jani K., jumped out to a good lead, but ended up finishing 17th overall in the standings.  In the 2010 season, it was John P. who finished atop the first week standings and he also finished 17th (of 17 teams).  In 2009, Dale C. had the first week honours and he also finished out of the money in 8th place, not as bad as the first two, but still notable.

This season, it will be Wayne H. who will try to go wire-to-wire (or something close to it) after finishing with a pool-high, 22 points.  Wayne finished with a 2-point lead though the first four days of the season, keeping a little bit of distance for the honour going into Sunday's action.

Coincidentally, Jani K., who finished as the Mover and Shaker in Week One last season, also had a Toronto Maple Leafs player as his best player in the week, as Phil Kessel was the best player on Wayne's team in Week One, finishing with 3 goals and 2 assists in two games.  That can't be a good sign, can it?

Also having a good week for Wayne in Week One were: Jose Theodore (4 points), Dany Heatley (2), Steven Stamkos (2) and Kari Lehtonen (2).

I do believe that this is the first time in the five years of the website, that the team that had the 1st overall pick in the draft finished on top of the standings in Week One.  I'm not too sure what that could mean, but I thought it was worth noting as well.

PhotobucketFor every Mover and Shaker, there has to be a Basement Dweller.  It was a very disappointing week for Stuart G., whose players had plenty of opportunities to pick up points in Week One, but were very disappointing in that regard.  Stuart finished with only 6 points in Week One, putting him down in 22nd, the bottom of the biggest pool we've seen in Opiated Sherpa history.

Probably, the biggest disappointment that Stuart had was from his goaltending tandem of Jonas Hiller and Henrik Lundqvist, who had two European starts between them and only managed to fly back home with one victory between the two.  Stuart's goaltending led the pool in minutes played in the week with 254, but with only 2 points to show for it, it is somewhat embarrassing.

Now, on the flip side, historically speaking, the first Basement Dweller of the 2011 season was Chris M., who did end up finishing 3rd in the standings by the year's end, so that's is good news for Stuart.  In the 2010 season, Clayton C. finished in a tie for the Basement and finished 8th in the standings, while in the 2009 season, John B. and Peter H. each didn't record a point in the shortened first week of the year and finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively.

Who knew that the Basement would make for a better start than the Mover and Shaker?

PhotobucketThe first week of the Sheet pool isn't exactly the easiest one to capture on the Newsletter, just because the deadline for entries just passed the night before and there is generally still some teams to input before we finalize the numbers here.  I still have a number of teams to actually input, so there will be some huge jumps between Week One and Week Two, but the Newsletter itself, isn't really meant for the sheet pool, rather the draft.

Leading the way through the first week and the 23 teams that have been imputed is Dylan I., who picked up a whopping 39 points.  Dylan picked up points from Ryan Miller (4 points), Martin St. Louis (3), Tyler Seguin (3), Brad Marchand (3) and Dion Phaneuf (3) to start the year, not to mention a good number of 2-point players and a good number of singles.

Again, there are some teams still left to be put into the pool, so please be patient, it will all get done before too long!

NEWS AND NOTES

A reckless high-stick to the face of Blue Jackets' forward Matt Calvert has cost Wild forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard the next couple of games, as the NHL has suspended Bouchard 2 games for those actions.  In the video in the news post, you get the full explanation from Brendan Shanahan about why the suspension was laid down in a very transparent manner.  Bouchard will be eligible to return on Saturday, when the Wild play host to the Red Wings.  An appeal has been filed by the player and his agent, which is to go on Monday, but it's hard to say whether anything will come of it.

The Montreal Canadiens, who have been dealing with a number of injuries to start the season already, suffered two more in their visit to Winnipeg.  Mike Cammalleri suffered a laceration to his leg, which is expected to keep the sniping forward out of the line-up for upwards of two weeks.  Also going down in the game was defenseman Jaroslav Spacek, who took a solid jolt along the boards at the bench and he left with an undisclosed upper-body injury.  There was still no word as to when he will be ready to return, but he'll leave yet another hole on the team's blueline for a while.

On Sunday night, in the second half of back-to-back games for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Edmonton, Evgeni Malkin was not in the line-up for the visiting side, as he blocked a shot in Calgary the night before and suffered a minor ankle injury.  The injury is not considered to be a serious, as it sounds like the team expects to have him in the line-up for their next game, which goes at home on Tuesday against the Panthers.

The Jets opened their 2012 campaign on Sunday afternoon and not dressing for the team in their opener was defenseman Derek Meech, who is now listed as the team's seventh defenseman.  Meech has been a minor-league player before joining the Jets in the off-season, so this doesn't come as a great surprise, especially when the Jets/Thrashers were known for their defensive depth, more than anything.  A stomping from the Canadiens, however, may see Meech draw in before too long.

Link to the Injury/News Page

HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA


Week Two's Hockey Night In Canada will be a pretty good one, by the looks of things, as every Canadian team actually features on the program, but most of the early games are regional.

In the early game in the West, the Calgary Flames will be in Toronto to visit the re-tooled (and 2-0-0) Maple Leafs for an early test on the road trip.  The Flames were one of the most popular teams in the draft pool this year, thanks in large part to some depth selections, with 14 picks to start the season, while the Maple Leafs had 10 picks in the first 14 rounds of the pool.  Leading the way in pool scoring between the two teams is James Reimer, who was the other goalie to finish with 6 points in Week One.

In the late game, we'll see the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers match-up in the North, as the rebuilding Oilers will get another measuring stick game against the best team in the West in 2011.  The Canucks, who dropped their opening game to the Penguins in a shutout will look to have a strong second week of the season and will try to feast on the young Oilers.  Devan Dubnyk goes into the week in a tie for the most points between players from both teams, getting the win on Sunday night and is working well to earn the number one job in Edmonton.
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