Washington, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Detroit, Dallas and Colorado... these are your division leaders through the second week of the NHL season. Some are your usual suspects, while there are some rather suspicious names a top of the standings to start the season. Don't worry, it's still early this season for it to matter too much.
Yes, we've just finished the first full week of the NHL season and we've started to see some more of those numbers that we are used to seeing for weekly totals in the pool and frankly, it will only get better with a few more games on the schedule this coming week. The first full week of the season, there was only 39 NHL games played in the seven days, where Week Three will have 46 games, so the 22 teams in the pool should really start picking up some real quality points going forward.
I think one of the most remarkable statistics through two weeks of the draft season is that the 22 teams are not picking up more points than the draft last year. Last season, with far less injuries and less depth players taken, the pool was picking up around 11 points per NHL game on average, while this season, we're only managing around 10.5 points per NHL game, which has kept some of the overall point totals down to start the year.
I think once some of the teams get back to the usual paces, some players come back from injuries, I think we'll see some numbers bounce back, but with two more teams in the pool, we should be over 11 points per game, regardless. Maybe that's just me.
It was a pretty good battle for Player of the Week in Week Two, the general tie-breaker was needed to separate the two combatants to achieve supremacy for the second week of the season. Coming out on top was the 1st overall pick in the 2009 Entry Draft, John Tavares, who looks to be finally coming into his own, now in his third NHL season.
Tavares' week was technically three games long in Week Two, but he really only broke out on the score sheet in two of those games, yet he still finished with 8 points between the two games.
On Monday, he was held pointless against the Minnesota Wild, which left him with no points through the first two games of the regular season and the Islanders were struggling to get some results. But then on Thursday, at home to the Tampa Bay Lightning, he picked up a pair of goals and a pair of assists in a 5-1 victory and on Saturday, at home to the New York Rangers, he scored a hat-trick and picked up an assist in a 4-2 victory.
Tavares' 8 points now gives him a share of the hockey pool lead in points, individually, shared with eight other players through these two weeks.
It was a very tight race in the Mover and Shaker department in Week Two, as three teams stormed through the first full week of the regular season and put up some pretty good points. The pool finished up with a tie for top spot in the weekly honour, so we had to go to the first tie-break, goals scored to come up with our Mover and Shaker and with 29 points and 10 goals, it's our new pool leader, Allan S., who came up with a top end effort.
Allan finished up in 2nd spot after Week One with a pretty good start to the season and then was able to add onto it with a Mover and Shaker week, so his title defense in the draft begins really well, now sitting with a 5-point lead through 11 days of action.
Our new pool leader has had both of the Player of the Week nods to start the season, in Ilya Bryzgalov and this week's John Tavares, so you know he's getting some quality play early on, also he's got another one of those players tied for the pool lead in points in David Legwand. Allan has also seen some good production from Ilya Kovalchuk and Max Pacioretty this week, which is also quite promising for him. This pool is all about getting the right players at the right time.
Statistically, Allan currently leads the pool in points from his forwards, having 37 points through 11 days and one of his forwards, Martin Havlat, has yet to play this year, due to a shoulder problem. His skaters are scoring at a rate of just under a point-per-game at the moment, also leading the pool, not to mention his goaltenders, who have seen five games worth of action, have also done well to pick up 2 points per 60 minutes of action thus far as well. It's hard to argue with that kind of early production, but it will also be hard to maintain through the year.
There's nothing wrong with getting out to a solid lead though, because every team is destined for some kind of slump through the year. It's best to have a buffer for when that happens.
In the basement this week, Jani K. failed to hit double digits in his weekly production, only picking up 9 points in the first full week of the season, which dropped him down from 5th spot after the opening week, down to 18th this week.
Jani's skaters dressed for 26 games and his goalies manage to register enough minutes for 3 games in the week, which may have led to some poor performances in the week, as they were slightly below average on both fronts for the week.
His best players in the week were Nathan Horton and Roberto Luongo, each picking up 2 points in the week, while he should be very disappointed with Joe Thornton, Saku Koivu and Dennis Seidenberg, the last three players on his team with zero points. Once his players wake up, he should be getting into better shape.
Well, you leave registration open through the first few days of the regular season and what do you get? A few teams that choose their teams according to the hot players right out of the gate. I don't believe that this plan has ever worked successfully to take the top spot by the end of the year, which is one of the reasons why I still allow it, but it sure looks sketchy at the beginning of the year, doesn't it? I might have to re-visit this plan next season.
We finished up with 31 teams registered this season, down again from last season in membership, one of these years I'll start pushing it again and we might hit 40 teams, but you just never know. I'm still working out all the prize details at the moment, so be patient with that right now. I will try to have some numbers up before the end of the week.
Zac H. leads the pool through two weeks, sitting at 91 points. Since his team is one of the sketchy teams that filled out their sheets with a few games played, you might be able to see why he jumped up so high to start the year. I cannot give a good weekly estimate, as my numbers are a tad skewed here, but I can tell you that he doe have a number of players with 6 points each to lead the way: Jeff Skinner, Luke Adam, Kris Letang and Johan Hedberg, which most suggest that this is just a phase and he should drop back down with the rest of the pack eventually.
Next week's stat pack will be back to normal, with all the regular comparisons and news, that we've all become accustomed to.
NEWS AND NOTES
On Friday night, the Carolina Hurricanes lost the services of rookie forward Zac Dalpe to a lower-body injury. The team is saying that the kid will be out on a week-to-week basis, which is not great news at the moment, but that could open the door for another one of the team's up-and-coming young players to take his spot and run with it for a while. There has not been any confirmation as to who that might be, but it looks like it will happen regardless.
It hasn't been the best of starts for the Columbus Blue Jackets in the standings, but they have shown some real flashes of offense, which has to give their supporters some real hope going forward. Unfortunately, Jeff Carter might not be readily available to the team this week, as he has suffered a hairline fracture in his foot and his participation will be sketchy at best for the next week, at least. Carter is set to miss the team's next game, but is currently questionable going forward, obviously depending on how the foot feels and how the team decides to prevent further injury, if he does play.
The Kings have officially placed defenseman Drew Doughty on the Injured Reserve, which will guarantee that the Norris candidate defenseman will be out of the line-up for at least a week, as per the conditions of the Injured Reserve. Doughty suffered an upper-body injury against the Philadelphia Flyers, but the injury is said to be nothing concussion related. The team will likely re-evaluate him at the weekend ahead.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
The Week Three edition of Hockey Night In Canada might not look like the best draw for some national games, but I think once the puck drops on these two games, I think we'll see some pretty good hockey.
In the early game, which I am assuming will be the Maple Leafs in Montreal to take on the Canadiens for the West (not too sure, broadcast schedules for regions are not posted), has the makings of a much better game this season, compared to previous years. The Leafs are starting to pick up their socks and play some much better hockey, while the Canadiens are kind of sliding in the opposite direction, but still have one of the best goalies in the league to help them stay afloat. Phil Kessel leads all players in this game in pool scoring through two weeks, having a share of the overall lead with 8 points.
In the late game, those flashy Edmonton Oilers will play host to the New York Rangers, where we should see a very good East meets West clash, with a couple of well-constructed teams with much different attributes. The Rangers are a rough and tumble team that can strike with their fair share of precision, while the Oilers are going to use their youth to skate North-South until their hearts are content, showing a little flash and dash in the process. The Oilers are being led by the 2011 1st overall pick in the Entry Draft, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who has scored 4 goals to start the season, including getting credit for a hat-trick against the Canucks on Saturday night.