The draft pool has gotten all kinds of interesting hasn't it? We have ourselves a new leader, as of the end of Week Twelve. Stacey C. has worked his way past Wayne H., while Dale B., Dale C. and Clayton C. each drew closer as well to the top and we've now got a pretty good race blossoming right now. The gap between 1st and 5th, all of the money spots, is only 9 points and the gap in gains in the week was 18 points, so I think we can prepare for some excellent movement over the next few weeks.
Now, the gap into the money has opened up to 9 points, but as we've seen of late, that doesn't seem to mean a great deal, with all of the points being handed out these days. If you've got a hot team this season, your team can close up all kinds of ground this year.
Thankfully, the holiday break is now over with and we can get back down to business on Monday. Week Twelve was a condensed week in the schedule, where we only saw 38 games on the NHL docket, much like the same period last season and with that, we have been rewarded with a big week, with 50 games in Week Thirteen, so we should be seeing all kinds of points descend from the rafters. This could be a very good week for everyone.
The last time we saw 50+ games, we were just nearing the end of the first segment in the pool, so injuries were catching up with most teams and we only collected 552 points in total, but with some of our best scoring rates of the season in the last couple of weeks, we should be seeing over 600 points in total, so pick from the tree bearing all the fruit and move up the standings!
Let's see how last week looked for all of us, it was a pretty good week...
A shortened week was not going to bring a lot of points from an individual and indeed, that was the case. For the Saturday and Sunday-free week of Week Twelve, we have ourselves a 3-way tie for the Player of the Week nod, which had to be solved by the usual tie-breaking standards, first on the docket... goals scored. On that bombshell, since two of the candidates were goalies, our forward with 6 points, including 4 goals, takes the Player of the Week nod... ladies and gentleman, I give you... Brad Marchand!
If you have been living underneath a rock, the Boston Bruins are rolling. Marchand has been an integral part of this run back up to the top of the Eastern Conference, with sheer guts and hard work out there... and it's kind of sickening, right? The Bruins played in two games in Week Twelve and Marchand lifted himself up to 3rd in team pool scoring, only behind Tim Thomas and Tyler Seguin with his huge week.
On Monday in Boston, the Bruins hosted their long-time rivals, the Canadiens and it was a 3-2 win for the home team, where our Player of the Week had 1 goal. Yes, only one. So, if the Bruins played in two games and Marchand had 1 point in the first game, that means... oh yes, he had 5 points on Friday night, when the Bruins hosted the Panthers. Marchand had a hat-trick and 2 assists on Friday night and he lifted himself above the rest, on tie-breakers, to take the Player of the Week mention this season.
With the big week, Marchand actually lifted himself up to be Leon G.'s best player, to this point, in the season for his draft team. Marchand finishes the week in 51st overall in pool scoring, 173 spots better than his draft position, making him into one hell of a bargain this year.
This is Marchand's first Player of the Week nod in the Opiated Sherpa pools and quite an honour it is.
The shortened week also made scoring very interesting across the board in the pool, where we had our best scoring rate per NHL game (11.8 points collected across the board) in 38 games, which kept scoring tight. At the top of the list, there was a tie for the Mover and Shaker award, which also will undergo the tie-breaking rules, the first being goals scored. With 30 points, we have two teams in the running... both teams finished with 8 goals scored per team... next tie-break, wins. Do you think I track wins easily from week to week? Of course not. But with a little bit of investigative prowess, we find that Jani K. is our Mover and Shaker, thanks to 30 points, 8 goals and 4 wins... congratulations.
With the 30-point week, Jani moved up in the standings from 12th to 10th spot, getting into some very good company among the top half of the pool and is now only 39 points outside of the money, which may be a tad out of reach, but not without a greater push down the line.
Jani's team enjoyed a big week from Roberto Luongo, who had 6 points to lead all players on his team, followed by Michael Ryder, with 5 points, and James Reimer, with 4 points. Good thing his goaltending came up so big for him, he needed them to come up huge in the second tie-breaker, which proved to be very clutch.
It is mildly ironic that the goaltending came up so huge for Jani, as they haven't been in the crease as he may have preferred to this point in the year, as he currently is 2nd in total games played from his skaters and is well below-average in minutes played from his goaltending tandem. If anything, he should have been banking on the guys who dress pretty well every night. With Luongo and Reimer healthy, he should be moving back into the average, above-average territory awfully soon though.
This also helps Jani's position in the second segment of the hockey pool season, but his team trails the current leader, Clayton C., by 22 points in the segment, so it has only helped so much.
Well, why ruin a good thing with the last note from the draft pool, as the Basement Dweller nod has to be decided by the tie-breaking procedure. Two teams both finished Week Twelve with only 11 points, so we'll give it the goal scoring method, but with the least amount of goals scored, 5, to be exact, it will be Peter H. that takes the Dweller spot for the week. It was close, but decisive.
Peter's season, since one swing upwards in Week Five, has not been very good to this point. He currently ranks in 20th spot in the pool and with a weekly-low, that means he has moved a little bit closer to the bottom, as the two teams below him have gained on him, even if it is just a little bit. Not good news at all.
Unfortunately, a decision didn't quite go his way with NHL scoring in the week, as Ryan Miller was credited with an extra win in Week Eleven, which had to be taken away in Week Twelve, with some uncertainty about what really happened there. It may have been credited to him in error, so the correction had to be made, which has dropped him down to the Basement Dweller position, which is unfortunate. But for all things being correct and fair, it had to happen.
Otherwise, his only player of note in the week was Jarome Iginla, who finished with 4 points in Week Twelve, as he's finally beginning to roll, but it wasn't enough to save Peter from the mention in the newsletter this week.
The selection sheet pool did not see a change in the money spots in Week Twelve, the shortened week did nothing to make any moves within the Top Six, to be exact. Don D. did move up to 7th spot in the week, inching a tad closer to the money spots, but otherwise, there was no real movement out there. Jeff E. still has a lead and a couple trades to work with, so he'll remain the leader through the Christmas break.
Top team in the pool for points in Week Twelve belonged to Justin L., who had 61 points, moving up two spots in the standings from 13th to 11th in the process. A very good week for him, considering the number of games we had in the schedule. Justin's team was led by Roberto Luongo (6 points), Michael Ryder (5), Scott Hartnell (5), Daniel Sedin (4), Henrik Sedin (4), Evgeni Malkin (4) and Marc-Andre Fleury (4). That's a pretty good selection of players from top to bottom and it obviously went the right way for him in the week.
The best team making a move up the standings was Scott G.'s first team in the pool, as they moved four spots in the standings, from 19th place to 15th, creeping their way into the conversation. We're nearing the halfway point, so moving up is definitely the right direction to be in as we meet this midway spot of the NHL calendar.
Pool leader, Jeff E., had the team with the most goals scored in the week with 20, as his team has the lead in that category as well. If your team is going to catch his, they better be scoring goals as well.
NEWS AND NOTES
The Buffalo Sabres are expecting to have Brad Boyes back from a high ankle sprain on Monday night, as they take on the Washington Capitals tonight. Boyes has been out since the end of November with the injury and was dropped in the waiver draft a few weeks ago, but still has residence in the selection sheet, so his return is worth noting. Boyes has 8 points in 21 games to this point in the regular season.
The Minnesota Wild will get their captain Mikko Koivu back for their return from their Christmas break on Monday. Koivu is returning from a leg injury, which put him on the Injured Reserve, nearly a couple of weeks ago. Koivu has been misssed and when the Wild get their captain back, they should be in much better shape. The Finnish captain has 28 points in 32 games this season, still ranking in the top 100 in pool scoring, upon his return.
On Monday morning, the St. Louis Blues announced that forward T.J. Oshie will miss at least the next two games, due to a hand/wrist injury, which is tendon related. Oshie was limited in his morning skate activities on Monday morning and he will be held out of the line-up for Monday night's contest against the Dallas Stars and Tuesday's game in Detroit, with the remaining two games in the week likely remaining questionable, as of today. In 34 games, Oshie has 11 goals and 12 assists, ranking 114th in pool scoring, so his production will be missed in his time away.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
New Year's Eve will mark the final broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada for the 2011 calendar year and it will go out with potentially, a couple of pretty good games. It will be a doubleheader for the evening, to which, you may skip for some World Junior hockey action and that is totally acceptable, given the tournament may be a bit more exciting than these games as a whole. For highlighting purposes, we'll look at the last draft players to be named to a World Junior All-Star team for each game.
In the early game, the Toronto Maple Leafs will visiting the Winnipeg Jets for their second meeting of the year, the first in Manitoba this season. The first game went the way of the buds in the shootout, but with the way the Jets are playing at home these days, that narrow of a result could very well favour the home team going forward. The last draft player between these two teams to make a World Junior Championship All-Star team was Dion Phaneuf, back in 2005. Phaneuf has 21 points in 35 games this season, a very respectable total to this point.
In the late game, the Canucks will make their second visit down to Los Angeles to take on the Kings, where they one their first meeting, 3-2. The Kings are under new supervision on the bench and are still trying to work out the kinks, but they could very well be ready for when their Northwest Division foes come to call. Now, there was one player ahead in the highlighting, but he wasn't selected in the draft, so Drew Doughty gets the call in the paragraph, as he was an All-Star defenseman in 2008. This season, Doughty has 13 points in 30 games for the Kings, slowly working his way up on a team in a harsh situation.