In what is becoming a Week Five tradition on the weekly newsletter for the hockey pools, I have been measuring the gaps between first and last place, just to get an idea of what has been going on, just over a month into the regular season. You can see the last few years by clicking the appropriate links, 2010, 2009 and 2008.
In the draft, the five week gaps have fluctuated and now with some more growth over the past couple of years, the comparisons are not overly consistent. In 2008 with 17 teams, the gap between first and last was 48 points, 2009 with 17 teams had a 62-point gap, and 2010 with 20 teams saw a 42-point gap. Now, in November of 2011, we now have 22 teams in the pool, but some interesting depth player decisions from some of the bottom teams have created a massive gap... of 66 points. That is 1 point shy of being double the pace of last place.
In the sheet pool, participation has actually shrunk over the last few years, as interest has sort of waned over the last few years. Nevertheless, with the format of the pool the way it is, with potential to have the same teams and/or players throughout the pool, the gaps can fluctuate, but there also can be some consistency with the teams that enter. With only 32 teams in the pool this year, the gap is currently 100 points, which is a tad smaller than 2010 (112 points), but bigger than 2009 (85 points) and bigger than 2008 (80 points).
Now, the draft is the harder pool to close gaps in, especially when you're stuck with a number of players for upwards of nine, 18 or all 27 weeks of the season, but making your waiver draft picks count, plus a little bit of luck, go a long ways.
The sheet pool is a little bit different. With seven trades through the whole year, your pool team can drastically change, if you make those trades and you can take advantage of those teams who don't trade and start climbing the ladder again. Be sure to make your trades!
So, speaking of the waiver draft for the draft pool, we are only a few weeks away from the first one. It will start on the Monday of Week Nine, counting down to the end of the first segment of the pool. I have posted the top 75 players available, which doesn't sort out by position at the moment, but I could break that down, if needed. There are a good number of players in each of the three positional categories right now, so if you're down low enough, you might be able to do some good.
Well, let's see how this week panned out, shall we?
It turned out to be a very solid week of scoring again in the draft, having the best points per NHL game rate of the season in Week Five, but no one player really jumped ahead of the pack too far for the nod. In fact, it was a tie for the Player of the Week race, between a forward and a goalie, which by tie-breaking rules, will go to the goals for, immediately knocking out the goalie. With that being said, our Player of the Week, with 7 points from Monday to Sunday, is Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Kane played in four games in the week, picking up 2 goals and 5 assists for the nod, even with being shutout on Sunday night, given the chance to take the outright lead and win for the nod.
On Monday, he kicked off the week with 2 goals and an assist against the Nashville Predators, while on Thursday, he picked up a single assist against the Florida Panthers, then on Friday, it was 3 assists in Tampa Bay against the Lightning, but he failed to pick up a point against the Vancouver Canucks at home on Sunday.
The big week has done well for his overall numbers, bringing his season total up to 15 points (4 goals and 11 assists) in 14 games for the Blackhawks, which now has him in 21st in pool scoring this year, which is a 1st round pick by this year's draft standards.
In the draft, he was taken 33rd overall, in the 2nd round, which currently has him as a slight bargain in the pool to this point in the season. One of the few bright spots in John P.'s season.
With 507 points scored in the pool this week, there was quite an even spread of points throughout the 22 teams, as there wasn't a huge disparity from top to bottom in weekly scoring. There was a clear Mover and Shaker though in the week, with 33 points, Scott G. gets the nod as the best team in the pool, moving up from 6th to 5th in the process.
This was back-to-back 30+ point weeks for Scott G., who has started to climb up the ladder from Week Two, where was sitting in 13th spot in the standings and has been climbing ever since. He's now 1 point back of 3rd place and 13 points back of 2nd at the moment. If he keeps moving and shaking, he could be in the best discussion for standing in the pool.
Having a good week for him in Week Five were Nicklas Backstrom (6 points), Artem Anisimov (5), James Van Riemsdyk (5), Jaromir Jagr (4) and Corey Crawford (4). Currently, Scott has two players in the top 20 in pool scoring, Backstrom and Jagr and he has seven players in total, who have been better than where he picked them in the pool in pool scoring. That's a pretty good sign, early on in the season.
In terms of staying healthy, Scott's team is in the middle of the pack in skater games played through five weeks, having 147 skater-games played, with a good scoring rate of 0.69 points per game, while his goaltending is also in the middle of the pack, registering 888 minutes of play, picking up just over a point per 60 minutes. If one of those scoring rates were to improve, his standing would also improve.
Scott has also had the bulk of his points this season come from his forwards, picking up 75 of his 118 points, which ranks in the top half of the pool, where his defense and goaltending are again, in the middle of the pack, which could also use some improvement.
Remarkably, we didn't see a best to worst situation last year in the draft, a team going from the Mover and Shaker to the Basement Dweller in weekly production, where I could of swore we did. I know it has happened before in the pool, but I guess it's the first time in quite a while. Any way, Clayton C. dropped down in production, as he was Shaking in Week Four to Dwelling in Week Five, thanks to a horrible 10-point week.
Clayton dropped down from 2nd place to 6th place, now 7 points back of 3rd place and 19 points back of 2nd, where he was only a week ago.
Injuries to Daniel Alfredsson, Mikael Samuelsson and Chris Mason were leading causes in the lack of points for Clayton in the week, but cold weeks from Brad Boyes, Taylor Hall, all four defenders and Antti Niemi were also hard to deal with.
Clayton still has three players in the top 20 in pool scoring, who have been doing well, but every team needs more than three players to succeed in this pool.
We have ourselves a new leader in the selection sheet pool this week, as Jeff E. had himself a monster week in the pool, jumping up to the to of the heap in Week Five. It's actually a pretty close race through the top three, which is very good to see. Zac H. stayed in 2nd place in the week, now only 2 points back of top spot, while our old leader Wes M., dropped down a couple spots, but is still only 6 points back of the lead.
Jeff had the best week in the pool, picking up 80 points in Week Five, thanks to Marian Hossa (6 points), Tim Thomas (6), Daniel Sedin (5), Henrik Sedin (5), Martin St. Louis, (5), Joffrey Lupul (5), Adam Henrique (5) and six players with 4 points each. That's a very substantial week and one of the best ones we have seen in the pool this year. When it came down to pool scoring in the sheet pool, the wealth being spread over the list of players made a very big difference. Scoring did very well this week.
Moving up the most spots in the pool this week was Kendra M., who jumped up eight spots from 12th to 4th with a 73-point week, also one of the top weeks in the pool this year. Clayton C.'s team had the most goals for in the week with 29, which helped him move up seven spots in the standings, from 18th to 11th.
NEWS AND NOTES
A "sore foot" was enough to keep forward David Moss out of the line-up for the Flames on Sunday night in Denver, as the forward watched the game from the press box. Moss hasn't been terribly productive for the Flames this season, only having 4 points in 12 games for the club, thus far, which is somewhat disappointing, as he was projected to start the season as the number one centre for Jarome Iginla to start the year.
Also having somewhat of a disappointing start for the Flames is Brendan Morrison, who was made into a healthy scratch on Sunday, thanks in large part to no production at all for the team, no points in eight games. Morrison did get a late start to the season, thanks to a knee injury, but since he has come back, he has been up and down the line-up, failing to have a real effect on the scoring for the team. I don't believe he will be out of the line-up for very long, but it is very concerning.
There is a bit of a rotation going on the Carolina blueline these days, as they continue to struggle to find some consistency. On Sunday afternoon, Jamie McBain came out of the line-up as a healthy scratch, making way for Derek Joslin. McBain has not been offensively productive for the Hurricanes, only picking up 3 assists in the first 10 games, but at the same time, the rest of the team have not been much help on the scoresheet either. With the loss to the Stars on Sunday, I would expect to see McBain back in the line-up for their next game on Tuesday.
In what was thought as a pretty good free agent signing in the off-season, defenseman Adam Pardy was a healthy scratch again for the Dallas Stars and he hasn't been able to crack the line-up full-time, only playing six games for the Stars to this point this year. Pardy has yet to register a point and likely hasn't impressed too many people in the organization, which is quickly making him into a bit of a bust signing. He'll have to start making good use of his opportunities, when he gets them, or else there might be a trip to the minors in his future.
It hasn't been a good start to the season for Sharks forward Benn Ferriero, who has dropped down in the depth charts this year and has now been sent back to the minors, where he can pick up some more quality minutes of ice-time in the AHL. Ferriero has only played in four games with the Sharks this year, scoring 1 goal, but he has been a healthy scratch in the latter part of the week and his demotion was somewhat inevitable, it would seem.
On Sunday afternoon/evening, the Tampa Bay Lightning were in Sunshine to take on the Florida Panthers and they did so without one of their key defensemen, Victor Hedman, who sat out the contest with an upper-body injury. The team currently says that the big Swede is out day-to-day with the injury, but there were no specifics, as to the nature of the injury or a timetable for when he might return. Also suffering an injury on Sunday night was forward Ryan Malone, who has been noted as suffering an upper-body injury, when he scored his 4th goal of the season. Malone left the game in the 2nd period, not to return, but there hasn't been any update on the forward since and there probably won't be until their next game.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
The sixth Saturday edition of Hockey Night in Canada will feature another doubleheader, with a couple of good rivalries this year. The division rivalries can certainly be the best games on the NHL schedule, but with the Battle of Ontario and a solid Northwest Division match-up, there should be a guarantee of good hockey. This week, we'll be looking at the top goalie in each match-up, who will have their picture up on the blog this week?
In the early game, the Ottawa Senators head into Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs in the third game of their six-game season series this year. The first two games have been split by the home teams getting wins and the games have seen some goals, 6-5 in Toronto and 3-2 in Ottawa, so we should be in for a treat this weekend. With all the goaltending issues in Toronto, despite their record, they have split the time pretty well and even guessing who the starter is going to be today is somewhat silly. Craig Anderson leads all goalies in this game in pool points, as he has won 6 games and added an assist for 13 points to lead the way fore netminders in this contest.
In the late game, it will be a rematch from Sunday night, in the same building, as the Calgary Flames will return to Denver in less than a week's time to take on the Colorado Avalanche. With their last contest happening six days previous, there should be lots of familiar feelings and hatred between the two sides, which has plenty of potential to make this into a great game. This will also be the third time that these two teams have played each other this season, the first game was a 4-2 win in Calgary for the Flames, while the second game on Sunday was another win for the Flames, this time of the 2-1 variety. The two goaltenders projected to start Saturday's game are now tied in points going into Week Six, but with 6 wins and the head-to-head battle in his favour, Miikka Kiprusoff is the goalie to watch in this one, as he has quite the winning streak going against the Avs.