I just don't know what it is about these really busy weeks in the NHL. Any time we've seen a week of 50 or more NHL games (three weeks), the points have been down in the week, as if teams have been conserving their scoring energy for some of the less-busy weeks. Week Fifteen got off to a rough start on Monday with some pretty poor scoring games and that just continued all the way through the week, as the draft pool was just a shade under 10 points per NHL game for the first time this season.
Injuries had caught up a little bit to the pool, as the skater games were down from the first week after the waiver draft, but that is to be expected. The goalies were collecting their usual amount of minutes played, but still, the pool as a whole didn't collect 500 points, which is somewhat concerning. It's always going to be be, the more points, the better. So, when scoring is down, it kind of hurts.
Nevertheless, even with a low scoring week, the draft pool has still been very exciting, as we've now have our fifth weekly leader in the pool, as there has been an official lead change through the week. Dale B. had a pretty good week and stormed to the top of the standings, opening a small 3-point lead, while he was at it, ending Clayton C.'s one week lead. Stacey C., our leader after Weeks Twelve and Thirteen, sits 4 points back in 3rd place and Wayne H., our long standing leader for nine weeks, has dropped down to 5th.
The selection sheet pool still saw some okay points, as the top teams eclipsed the 60-point barrier in Week Fifteen, but it hasn't been too great there of late either. Sadly, there isn't a great way to get the scoring impact of this pool, since everyone has the same players throughout their line-up. Quite a few teams overdid 60 points, which is now looking like the usual mark for very good weeks. Once teams start getting over 70 points, they are certainly having great weeks.
So, let's review the week and starting looking ahead to Week Sixteen...
We had ourselves another tie in the Player of the Week running in Week Fifteen, as two goalies came away on top with 8 points each. Saying that, wins first, number of games played second and we should have ourselves a clear winner... in theory. Both goalies had 3 wins and a shutout each, but Craig Anderson only played in three games for the Senators in the week, which means he gets the crown for best player in the week.
On a 3-game road trip with the team, Anderson was able to beat the Penguins on Tuesday, the Rangers on Thursday and the Canadiens on Saturday, with the win in New York as the shutout.
Anderson has really stood out this season, looking much like the goalie we saw help a very young Colorado side make it into the playoffs, with really no business being there. In Ottawa, there are a number of good pieces in place, including Anderson in goal, which has made the Senators a viable playoff team, at this point of the year.
With 8 points in Week Fifteen, Anderson's overall point total now stands at 52, which is currently good enough to be tied for 3rd, 4th overall when you take into account some of the sorting tie-breaks and such. Nevertheless, he's a top five player in pool scoring at the moment and just humming along to a pretty good tune. With goaltending like this, the Senators have a good shot at making some noise in the playoffs.
In the draft, Anderson was one-third of John P.'s points in the pool for the week, which doesn't say a great deal about the rest of his team. Nevertheless, without him, John probably would have suffered mightily.
There was another tie that needed to be broken this week and that was in the Mover and Shaker race, as we had two teams down near the bottom of the standings, duking it out for weekly supremacy. 33 points was the top mark in Week Fifteen, so we had to go to the scoreboard and see which team scored the most goals to break the tie and by an overwhelming landslide, Peter H. took the week, seeing his team score 17 goals.
Peter's team now holds the distinction of having the lowest team in the standings to have the Mover and Shaker honour this season, as his team still sits in 20th spot, but at least it has made some in-roads to work itself out of 20th spot.
The big week was due to having almost everyone contribute to the weekly gains, except for one injured player, who wasn't able to help out. Anze Kopitar had the big week for Peter, picking up 6 points with the Kings in the week. Dan Boyle of the Sharks had 5 points and Ryan O'Reilly of the Avalanche had 4 points to lead the way for his team. Otherwise, it was a mixed bag of players that had 3 points or less through his line-up.
Peter's team has been one of those unlucky lots for the most part of the regular season, not picking up the man games or the minutes played by his guys, falling to below-average levels of each statistic, also having scoring rates that are also quite poor. With three weeks left in the second segment of the year, Peter has moved up to be closer to an average team in the segment, but he does have a ways to go, but if his team has finally smartened up, now that they are nearly 100% healthy, there are good things that can happen. A good waiver draft again in a few weeks could really set his team apart and he can follow in the footsteps of Ryan M., who shot out of the gates in the second segment and made a name for himself.
Well done, Peter... it was a pretty good week.
What's two ties on the newsletter without a third one, am I right? Yes, the low-scoring week has now produced three ties in the draft pool mentions, which only seems to be about right. So, two teams with 12 points, we had to go to the goals scored and the team with the least amount of tallies was... Wes M.'s team, which failed to score a goal all week.
Wes' team currently ranks 20th in the second segment, as bad luck ran amok through his line-up over the last six weeks, now having six players on the shelf and he still has a number of injury prone players still healthy and riding the line. What an awful set of circumstances, which has made the efforts of Pekka Rinne, who ranks 2nd in pool scoring this season, look absolutely useless.
Patrick Sharp, Jordan Staal, Kristian Huselius, Tom Gilbert, Andrej Sekera and Andrei Markov are all on the shelf for Wes and their respective NHL club and none of them have much hope of coming back next week, so we might have to re-visit this team again. It's horrible to say, but this is one of the worst seasons I've seen in hockey pool history (on this website).
Some big movement in the selection sheet pool in Week Fifteen, as we have a new team in the money spots, as Wes M. had a monster week and moved into 4th spot, hurdling over five teams for the spot and now joining the conversation for making a run at the top two teams, Jeff E. and Zac H.. Clayton C. still owns the 3rd spot in the standings, while Kendra M. has stayed in the money with a 5th place finish to the week, taking the tie-break for the position with Don D..
Wes had a 66-point week and with the points as tight as they are around the bottom of the money, he was able to do his best leap frog act for the week, taking aim at staying in the money for the back half of the year, but it will be difficult. Wes owes his big week to Justin Williams, Pekka Rinne and Vincent Lecavalier, who each had 6 points in the week, while Jack Johnson and Martin St. Louis each had 5 points and Teemu Selanne and Marcus Johansson each had 4 points. 10 of his active 32 players were unable to pick up points, but with such a strong top end like he had, they certainly made up for his shortcomings in that department.
Of course, with the big week in points meant that he had the biggest jump in the standings. Wes jumped five spots, from 9th to 4th with the big week, but still only sits 16 points up on 12th spot, so one bad week can have him drop even further, if his team is not careful.
The biggest week in goals scored belongs to Justin L., who had a week-high of 21, which now has him 5th overall in that race, if it was worth something. As of right now, it is still only the first tie-break in the pool.
NEWS AND NOTES
The Dallas Stars are now expecting to be without their number one centre, Mike Ribeiro, until after the All-Star break, as he is dealing with a pretty good knee injury at the moment. Ribeiro was placed on the Injured Reserve in Week Fifteen, but it was without a timetable at the time. Now, the team is preparing for life without him, which could take them into the beginning of February.
The St. Louis Blues are getting a little bit closer to becoming completely healthy, as Alex Steen is close to returning from a concussion, likely coming back on Monday, while Kris Russell will be back later on in the week from a major groin injury. Both players have been out for the last couple of weeks, Steen had no real timetable since he was out, while Russell is just about on track from his 3-week schedule.
The Phoenix Coyotes are expecting to be without veteran defenseman Adrian Aucoin after he suffered a lower-body injury on Saturday against the Blue Jackets. The Coyotes go again on Monday afternoon for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so they will likely give a more specific update about Aucoin's injury then. We'll consider him out day-to-day for right now and if there is anything more significant coming with the update, we'll post it right here.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
We'll be back to a regular Hockey Night In Canada doubleheader this Saturday, but we'll have an all-Canadian team doubleheader, filled with some long-time rivalries, which should keep the entertainment level at some good highs. This week, we'll highlight the best goalie in each game, it's been a while since we've had a look at the goalies in the Hockey Night previews.
In the early game, the Montreal Canadiens will travel to Toronto to take on their Original Six rivals, the Maple Leafs, which should make for a pretty good game. It's a bit of a change of fortunes between the two sides, as the Leafs are currently holding onto a playoff spot, while the Canadiens are struggling to find their playoff spot, sitting outside of the top eight at the beginning of Week Sixteen. This is the third meeting of the season between these division rivals, Toronto taking the first two games of the season, but the series is long from over now. No surprise here, but Carey Price is the top goaltender between these two teams and he will have a full load on his shoulders, as he tries to work his way back into the playoff picture. Currently, he ranks 16th among all goalies in points with 35, but is averaging less than a point for every 60 minutes he plays this season.
In the late game, it will be the Battle of Alberta, as the Calgary Flames take on the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place. Both teams in the West are outside of a playoff spot going into Week Sixteen and both teams have seen plenty of struggles this season, but that shouldn't take away anything from this rivalry. This will be the fourth meeting of six this season between these two sides, with the Flames having a 3-0-0 record against the Oilers to this point and they can officially take the season series with a win. In this match-up, we see Miikka Kiprusoff makes another appearance in the Hockey Night previews, as he ranks 6th among all goalies in pool scoring with 46 points, which is remarkable for a goalie not in a playoff spot at the moment. He's doing all that he can to help the team, but doesn't seem to be getting much of the help he requires.