As we draw closer to the holiday season, we'll likely start seeing a lot more of the same old positioning down the stretch, minus a number of those mid-season change of hearts, where players either finally click into their game or find themselves fed up with their situation and start phoning in their efforts, which can cause all kinds of change to a hockey pool team.
In the draft, you would want to be in around the 50-point range of the money at around this time, as a general thought, since there is still plenty of time to make up some ground, but every team has improved their standings with a couple of waiver draft picks a couple of weeks ago and making up ground is much harder, unless injuries have ravaged teams ahead of you.
In the sheet pool, I don't think it's impossible to come back from around 100 points at this time, especially if you have trades to make still. You can still find some players that are settling into their scoring trends, maybe finding that player that is on the cusp of doing some great things.
Other things to look forward to this coming week... it's a short week. The NHL will shut down after Friday night for Saturday and Sunday, which means the results will be official for the week on Saturday and I imagine I will have the statistical audit done on Christmas Eve, barring however bad my Festivus hangover is. This is also the last week before the World Juniors kicks off here in Alberta, which starts on Boxing Day, a week from today. Very exciting.
Well, I'm hoping for something interesting to happen in Week Twelve, making the newsletter something good to read, much like it is this week. Have a peek!
Lots of points divvied out in Week Eleven, our season-high to date of 554 points between all 22 teams and in there, we had a 3-way tie for the Player of the Week nod and not one of the three players is a goalie. How about that? So, we'll go to the tie-breakers, first up is goals scored... and that's all we needed. The Player of the Week for Week Eleven is Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who finished with 5 goals and 3 assists in only three games in the week.
With Sidney Crosby going down, possibly for the long-term again, the Penguins are going to have to rely on Malkin to be the player he was when he took the NHL scoring crown, back in 2009, if the team really wants to make some noise this season. Minus a short stretch of games where he wasn't in the line-up, he is doing just that.
Malkin had an excellent week, but the Penguins as a whole were not quite as successful, which is somewhat remarkable. In a week, where Malkin gets Player of the Week honours, the team goes 1-2-0 in those three games. On Tuesday night, Malkin scored the only goal for the Pens in a 4-1 loss to the Red Wings; Friday, he had a goal and an assist in a 6-4 loss to the Senators; but on Saturday night, he went yard for 5 points, including a hat-trick, in an 8-3 win over the Sabres. It was a huge week, to say the least, but there is seemingly a new adjustment period with Crosby back on the IR for the team.
With the big week, Evgeni Malkin jumps into the top 10 in pool scoring with 36 points in 26 games, one of the best scoring rates in the pool among forwards, just a shade below Claude Giroux of the Flyers, who is out with a concussion at the moment.
It's either feast or famine for Clayton C.'s draft team this season, as his side has seen the good and the bad all year long, but it has mostly been good, just not good enough to have him in a money place after the conclusion of Week Eleven. No, this is his third Mover and Shaker of the Week nod in the first eleven weeks of the season and he still sits just outside of the money spots in 5th spot, 6 points out of 4th place.
Clayton finished the week with 41 points, his second time over the 40-point plateau this season, fourth time over the 30-point plateau, but he also has three weeks under the 20-point mark, which has hurt his team greatly.
Having a big week for Clayton in Week Eleven were Daniel Alfredsson and Thomas Vanek, each having 5 points in the week, while Joe Pavelski, David Perron, Erik Karlsson and Antti Niemi all had 4 points each. The only active player on his side that didn't register a point was Claude Giroux, the pool's 3rd ranked scorer, who missed out the last week and a bit with a concussion.
Clayton's team has been struggling with healthy players for the better part of the year, as his team currently ranks as below-average in both games played from his skaters and minutes played from his goaltenders, but he has had no problems getting production from his players that do play, as he leads the pool in points per game from his skaters and has a respectable scoring rate from his goalies this season.
After only two weeks of the second segment of the year, Clayton now has a 7-point lead on the segment scoring, now with 71 points, just ahead of Dale C. and Stacey C., who each have 64 points.
It has not been a lucky year for Scott G. in the pool to date, as he has dealt with all kinds of injuries in his skaters all year long and one of his goalies have lost the starting job in his NHL city for the time being, so things are quickly adding up. Scott finished with a pool-low 13 points in Week Eleven, with four of his players leading the way for his side with 2 points a piece.
Six players on his active team failed to register a point and this was enough to drop him from 11th to 13th spot in the standings, as he now sits 17 points out of the top 10 and 51 points out of the money. We are not far from the halfway point of the regular season, so there is still plenty of time to get healthy and get hot, but it's a long shot at best to recover from this spot.
Losing Ville Leino for a few weeks to a leg injury, Kristopher Letang continues to be out with a concussion and Chris Pronger now shut down for the rest of the year due to a concussion, things are not looking up for Scott, who will struggle mightily through this second segment, which still has seven weeks of action left in it.
It doesn't appear like anyone really wants to catch Jeff E. in the sheet pool this season or he really doesn't want anyone to catch him, by the look of things. Jeff opened up his lead again, which now sits at 33 points after Week Eleven, a total that is manageable to catch, but since he has two trades left in his back pocket, he is well-guarded for the rest of the season.
The top five teams saw little movement, as Zac H., Kendra M. and Chris G. each remained in the top five, unchanged from Week Ten, 2nd through 4th, while Wes M. dropped out of the money spots, giving up his spot to Clayton C., who moved in and took the last spot for the time being.
Jeff took top spot in the weekly scoring in the sheet pool, finishing with 73 points, 3 points better than his nearest competitors, which allowed him to expand that lead of his. His top players in the week were Tim Thomas (6 points), Marian Hossa (5), Adam Henrique (5), Matt Carle (5), Patrick Sharp (4), Fedor Tyutin (4), Jason Pominville (4) and Johan Hedberg (4). A very impressive list of players and points for the week, so it will be on your teams to make those trades and make a run at him.
Justin L. led all teams with positions moved in the week, as he had a 66-point week, which moved him from 18th to 13th in the standings, a great move up for him. Leading the pool in goals scored in the week were the two teams belonging to Bill K., as his first team led them all with 27 goals in the week.
The holidays shortened week will likely have a smaller effect on the standings, so I'm not expecting huge numbers for the end of Week Twelve, but we all just have to hope that our players don't mail it in, in anticipation for Santa to arrive.
NEWS AND NOTES
The Hurricanes have moved another step forward in getting healthy again, as Jay Harrison returned from a concussion on Sunday, which pushed Derek Joslin out of the line-up as a healthy scratch for their game against the Panthers. Joslin has only picked up 2 points in 14 games for the Hurricanes this year and has been a healthy scratch for long stretches, when the team was healthy at the beginning of the year. I would expect Joslin to start the cycle of sitting defensemen again, much like earlier in the year.
The Blackhawks are now awaiting word on the extent of defenseman Brent Seabrook's upper-body injury, which he suffered on Sunday night against the Flames when Rene Bourque checked him from behind, resulting in a 5-minute major and a game misconduct. Seabrook left the game after the hit in the 1st period and didn't return to the game, but there was no immediate word as to the extent of the injury, as their normally isn't. The Blackhawks go next on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, so we'll probably hear more in the next 24 hours or so.
There were a couple of scratches for the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday night, as they took on the Blues in a Central Division match. Rookie forward Ryan Johansen and defenseman Grant Clitsome each viewed the game from the press box, with no reports of any injury, which could only suggest them both being a healthy scratch, as the team looks for a spark to revive their season... again. The Jackets have not been very good over this last stretch, so players are having to be a bit more accountable for their play. Since the team dropped the game in St. Louis, I would imagine both players will draw back in for their next contest.
It appears that the San Jose Sharks have lost forward Martin Havlat to a leg injury, which he suffered on Saturday night against the Oilers. There has been no further word as to the extent of the injury, but he was seen after the game on Saturday being aided by a walking stick, so there is much concern for him at the moment. The Sharks do not play again until Wednesday, so the team may not be in a big hurry to divulge the nature or severity of his injury at the moment, unless the injury is more significant.
Jets forward Bryan Little took a shot in the back in Saturday's contest against the Ducks, which forced him to leave the game early. Little only managed to play in five shifts during the game, which is far from his season average, but the injury has not been deemed serious and he is considered day-to-day for the time being. Little has 20 points in 32 games for the Jets this year, working as a regular contributor this season, so if there is any time missed, it could be deemed significant for the club.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
Being as though it is the holiday season and since the big days happen on the weekend, it will stall the Hockey Night In Canada broadcasts for a week, resuming in Week Thirteen. After the Christmas break, we'll begin the countdown to the Winter Classic and the All-Star Game, which may make for some interesting players popping up as the highlights in the weekly newsletter.