Monday, November 14, 2011

Week Six Newsletter

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At the end of Week Six last season, all 20 teams in the draft had finally eclipsed the 100-point mark, but that isn't quite the case of all 22 teams in the draft this season and that seems fair, given that there are a few more depth players taken this year, more on some teams than other, of course.  No, the draft has a few teams that are already over 150 points, while there are still a couple of teams left that haven't hit triple-digits quite yet.  But with only a couple of weeks left to go until the waiver draft, they are just holding onto the best picks in the first draft to swap out some players.

We are getting closer to the US Thanksgiving, which is a pretty good marking point for the NHL, especially in the standings, but also in the hockey pools.  Once we've hit the Thanksgiving weekend, historically speaking, we know most of the teams who will likely be in the playoffs in the Spring, as there has already been a fair amount of separation, but the players have also already set themselves into some routines in the year, some of which can only be broken by injuries and/or suspensions.  If you're not in the good races by the end of November, it will be a long season for your pool team.

In the draft last year, the top three teams at the end of the year were in the top four at this time last year, while places four and five were teams that made good on their waiver draft picks, so I am going to expect a lot of the same this year.  The races in the middle of the pool are quite close, so there should be some solid movement, especially after the first waiver draft.  There are about four or five really good players available, so some of those bottom teams should be able to make good on those picks.

In the sheet pool, now is the time to start using your trades, either to move up in the standings or stay among the leaders in the pool.  Most teams at the top of the pool have already made some moves to cut a little of the fat and stay ahead of the curve, while the teams that are currently moving up, have already made some moves to help secure better spots for when the season gets into its regular groove.  Even if you are 70 or 80 points back at the end of Week Six, there is still more than enough time to make those points up, especially with trades that will give you a lot more points going forward.

Don't forget, when you're doing all of your homework for trades, be sure to check the injury/news page that is provided for you.  You don't want to drop a dud for another dud.

PhotobucketScoring remained fairly high in the draft in Week Six, pushing over the 500-point mark in total points again, but there wasn't a great deal of awesome individual performances in the week, which spread the points around pretty well.  There was one performance in the week, which was above and beyond everyone else in the pool and that was a very good week from Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, who was the only player to finish with 8 points in the week.

Howard won all three appearances he had in Week Six, adding to a win he had at the end of Week Five, giving him a 4-game winning streak at the moment.  He seems to have found his stride now and the Red Wings are just rolling with it at the moment.

On Tuesday, Howard made 23 saves in a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, then he made 24 saves to shutout the Edmonton Oilers, 3-0, on Friday night and finally, in the second half of back-to-back nights, he made 25 saves in a 5-2 win over the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.

With the strong Week Six, Howard now sits with 22 points in pool scoring, which currently has him ranked 5th among all players, 3rd among goalies, to this point.

Howard is no stranger to the Player of the Week honour in the pool, having won one in the 2010 season, in Week Twenty-Four.

PhotobucketIt was a very close race in the Mover and Shaker race, especially with how many points were collected in the pool and we had three teams hit the 30-point plateau, just barely, and one team was just slightly better than the rest, picking up 31 points in the week.  Stuart G. had one hell of a week, topping out in Week Six and giving himself a pretty big boost in the standings.

Stuart's 31 points was quite outstanding, as he jumps back into 3rd spot in the standings, a place that he held back in Week Three, only a couple of weeks after he was in the Basement, after a bad opening week.  Stuart now sits 6 points out of 1st place and 4 points out of 2nd, not to mention having an 11-point gap to 4th place, but as we've seen in the early part of this season, that size of gap can shrink quite quickly with a good week.

Stuart's big scorers in Week Six were: Johan Franzen (6 points), Zdeno Chara (4), Henrik Lundqvist (4), David Booth (3) and Jonas Hiller (3).  Stuart only had one player with zero points in the week, but otherwise, everyone was able to pick up something for the weekly leader in the sixth week of the season.

Statistically speaking, Stuart leads the pool in scoring from the blueline to this point in the year, as his four defensemen have picked up 49 points, which is far and away the best total among the 22 teams in the pool.  Only one other team has passed the 40-point mark there this year.  Stuart also has above-average numbers in skater games played and minutes played from his goaltending, which suggests that he has had a very healthy team early on, which is a huge bonus, especially in a pool like this.

And with this honour, Stuart becomes only the second team in the pool to have both a Mover and Shaker honour and Basement Dweller nod in the season.

PhotobucketOn the cold end of the spectrum, the weekly low of points was 14 points, held by a couple of teams, but we'll have to go to the tie-break, which will be the least amount of goals scored to determine our Basement Dweller.

With only 3 goals scored in Week Six, one of three teams to have the weekly low, Scott G. is our Basement Dweller for Week Six, which now adds his name to the list of teams that have both had the Mover and Shaker and Basement Dweller nods this season.

Scott's disappointing week stemmed from a couple of injuries, but mostly, it was just a number of zeros in the week from cold players.  There were five zeros on his side and with 14 points in the week, he spread those points out fairly well among those who did pick up a point.  His best player in the week was Corey Crawford, who had 4 points.

With the Basement Dweller nod, Scott dropped down from 5th to 10th in the standings, but he's only 7 points out of 4th place, so the race does remain quite tight, so there isn't too much to worry about here.

PhotobucketWell, we have a new leader at the top of the pool through Week Six, as Zac H. has made a quick move to jump to the top of the table, thanks to a 64-point week, overtaking Jeff E. for top spot and opening up a reasonable 5-point lead as well.  Wes M. and Kendra M. continue to hold their place from a week ago, in 3rd and 4th, respectably and we have a pretty good race just behind them.

Top spot for points in the week belongs to Don C.'s first team, which scored 72 points in the week, far and away the best total in the week.  That team also moved up five spots, from 31st to 26th.  His team is still 76 points back of 1st place, but at 8 points gain in the week, over the next 21 weeks, it might actually work out for him.  His season is far from over, when you look at it like that.  Having a big week for Don on this team were: Jonathan Toews (6 points), Nathan Horton (6), Justin Williams (4), Duncan Keith (4), Nick Leddy (4), Roberto Luongo (4) and four players with 3 points a piece.  It wasn't a mesmerizing week, but there was plenty of support from a lot of players, which is good in a pool like this.

The biggest move in the pool came from Allan S., who jumped up six spots in the pool, from 20th to 14th, with a 62-point week, which was among the pool leaders in Week Six.  Allan has made five of his seven trades this year, to help capitalize on his some of the early season successes and his team is now making moves up the standings.

Allan's team was also best in the pool for goals scored in the week, leading all teams with 25 markers between his 28 skaters.

There are a lot of trades to get through this week, so I expect we'll see some pretty big numbers for points in Week Seven, which is really exciting.  Be sure to get your trades in before puck drop on Monday, to ensure they get in.

NEWS AND NOTES

There were reports on Sunday evening that Sabres goalie, Ryan Miller, has suffered a concussion, thanks to the hit from Milan Lucic on Saturday night. Miller played another period and a bit, before not coming out for the 3rd, which has to be somewhat of a concern for the Sabres, but their first concern is the health of their franchise goalie. If the concussion reports are true, he'll be out at least a week, likely longer. This isn't terrible news for the Sabres, as Jhonas Enroth has played well this season, but you don't want to see your number one guy go down for any reason.

The Florida Panthers decided to put rookie Erik Gudbranson back into their line-up on Sunday night against the Flyers, which meant that Keaton Ellerby was the defenseman who came out of the line-up as a healthy scratch. The move didn't translate into a win in the standings, but Gudbranson had been sitting out for about a week and Ellerby has been touch-and-go this year. There could be a rotation coming out of these moves, if I was to offer a guess right now.

As it was feared on Sunday morning's post, Wild defenseman Marco Scandella has indeed suffered a concussion and will be out of the line-up for at least a week, adhering to the NHL protocol for concussions. Scandella took a pretty significant hit on Saturday night, having to leave the game against the Kings, not to return. The reports of a concussion came on Sunday afternoon and he'll likely get his first batch of tests next weekend, in his bid to return to the line-up.

Finally, the goaltending carousel for the Islanders continued to turn, as Evgeni Nabokov got the start against the Canucks on Sunday night and it was Al Montoya, who was the healthy scratch for the team. The team has spread out the minutes fairly well this year, between three goalies, which was going to be a hard thing to sell to three pros, but so far, there has been little unrest between the three.  Of course, with Rick DiPietro being a health risk, there is nothing wrong with the Islanders holding onto three starters at the moment.

Link to the Injury/News Page

HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA


With the inclusion of the Winnipeg Jets to Canada's national hockey picture, this may just open up all kinds of opportunities for Hockey Night in Canada to give us a few more tripleheaders on Saturday... like Week Seven's edition of our weekend past time.  Yes, thanks to an early game in Winnipeg, we have ourselves three games to keep us all entertained for the better part of Saturday.  For this week's preview, I'll be looking at the most disappointing player in the draft from each game, I thought I would change it up a little bit again this week.

In the early game, the Jets will try to recover whatever is left of their honeymoon period with their fans, as the high-powered Flyers come to town, a match-up that has given us plenty of goals to talk about already this season.  Yes, their first meeting was the 9-8 circus win for the Jets in Philadelphia and you would have to think that the Flyers would like to get some payback for that debacle of a game in their barn.  If this is going to be the case, we might be in for a great game on Saturday.  Now, I didn't realize when I decided to pick the worst player in the draft for each game, that I would be dealing with injuries, so injuries aside, the worst player likely to play in the game on Saturday is the Jets' Chris Mason, who has had his share of injury problems, but was one of the better players in the 17-goal barn burning.  Mason is back with the club and has 2 points this year and has a chance to have more by the time these two teams meet.

The middle game will see a couple of Eastern Conference heavyweights do battle, as the Toronto Maple Leafs play host to the Washington Capitals.  This will be the first meeting of the season between the two teams, as going into the week, both teams lead their respective divisions, but neither team has been playing the most consistent hockey, which may make this into quite the match-up at the end of the day.  It will be a match-up depending on whichever version of each team shows up to the rink on that night.  It's really a toss-up right now.  It's been a very disappointing start to the season for Leafs defenseman Cody Franson, who has only been into four games this year and has been a healthy scratch for the rest of the games, being used sparingly as the seventh defenseman.  With only 1 assist to his credit, he has been a big disappointment in the pool this year.  There is always a chance a guy like Franson can come out of the press box, but it does seem somewhat unlikely right now.

In the late game, we could be in for a great one against two strong skating, high-powered clubs, as the Chicago Blackhawks go into Edmonton to face the young Oilers.  Two teams that have seen the depths of the Western Conference basement, with plans of rebuilding.  The Blackhawks have already benefited from this plan, while the Oilers look to be well on their way this year to start the steps up to another championship in the near future.  This will be the second meeting within a week between these two teams, as these two met last night (Sunday), where the Blackhawks outscored the Oilers in Chicago, 6-3, in a pretty wild skating affair.  I would imagine that the Oilers would like to treat the Blackhawks to the same kind of hospitality, when they return to Edmonton.  Due to an injury, we won't be taking the worst player in this draft, as of today, rather the next worst player, which after Sunday night's game was Magnus Paajarvi, who only has 1 assist in 15 games this year.  Paajarvi was an 11th round pick, so just 1 point isn't going to cut it this year and he has likely been threatened with a trip to the minors already this year.
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