This is back-to-back ugly scoring weeks now in the draft pool, as injuries look to be really taking their toll through the land. Week Sixteen saw the highest amount of games, to date, on the NHL schedule (52) and the total scoring for the week was not at all fantastic, only collecting a total of 533 points through the 22 teams. If we were anywhere near our top end scoring rates per NHL game in a week, we should have seen 614 points in total for the week and a lot more of that spread out among the pool teams in total.
No, we haven't been seeing some of the participation rates that we may have liked either in Week Sixteen, as the collective skaters have not been playing as many games for us. In the week, an average NHL game saw 14.8 games played by our skaters (forwards and defensemen) from the pool, which is down from our good weeks of 15.7 games, taking out nearly 50 games of participation throughout the pool. That's going to sting a little bit and something we are going to try and correct, with the second waiver draft.
Week Seventeen is now upon us and it is going to be a shortened week, but still a very important week in the draft pool. There are only three nights worth of action, although Wednesday only has one game, and this week will decide the picking order for the second waiver draft. There are quite a few races going on in the pool this week and if your team was going to take a quick dive to better their pick, now is the week to do it.
1st to 3rd place is only separated by 10 points, 4th to 7th is only separated by 10 points, 9th and 10th are tied this week, 11th through 13th is only 7 points different, 21st and 22nd are now only 18 points away from each other. Yeah, we have some races out there and we'll now be coming down to the homestretch for it all. This has the potential to be really good.
There were quite a few impressive individual performances in Week Sixteen, but there was one performance that was above the rest, as Jaroslav Halak was the best player in the league, picking up 10 points.
I think it is fair to say that Halak may have been the least expected player to make the Player of the Week nod at this point in the season, as it was thought to be Brian Elliott's team to lead in net this season, but Halak has now shown that this season is not over for him yet.
It was nearly a perfect week for Halak, who went 3-0-0 with 2 shutouts for his 10 points, putting together a solid shutout streak in the process and impressing many. He opened up his week with a 22-save shutout of the Dallas Stars on Monday, followed it up with a 15-save shutout of Edmonton on Thursday and then had his shutout streak broken on Saturday against Buffalo, but still made 19 saves for the win.
With the 10 points, Halak increases is overall season total to 36 points, good enough for 72nd in pool scoring, 19th among goalies this year and that is still only good enough for 2nd among Blues goalies this year. St. Louis has a great goaltending tandem at the moment and they are hard to beat, no matter which goalie they have in net.
This is the second Player of the Week nod of the year for Niesa S., who's other goalie, Cory Schneider, picked up a nod this year, and he also had 10 points, the week that he had his picture in the newsletter.
Remarkably, this hasn't happened since Week Two of the regular season, as our Mover and Shaker also had the Player of the Week, getting a double-nod in the newsletter. Niesa S. had one hell of a week, riding her goaltender to the top of the weekly charts, scoring 36 points in a low-scoring week and working her way into the money conversation, not long before the second waiver draft descends upon the pool.
Niesa has had one of the hotter teams in the pool over the past few weeks, ranking 3rd in the pool for points over the last three weeks, with 90. Only the top two teams in the standings have done better over the same time period and not by too much. This has seen Niesa move up from 9th to 6th, 1 point out of 5th place, on a mission to finish up the season well.
Her big week came from Jaroslav Halak, as mentioned before, with 10 points, Nikolai Antropov and David Backes each finished with 5 points and Sergei Kostitsyn had 4 points to help lead the way as well. There were a few active zeroes on her team's side, but when you have such a huge performance from one player, like Halak did, some of those zeroes don't seem to be quite as bad.
Niesa will likely try to fill a gap or two in the waiver draft, although her team is fairly solid down the line, despite a couple of injuries. Her two injuries to Mikko Koivu and James Wisniewski are both scheduled to become ready to play in a couple of weeks, so there may not be much need to swap those two out, which is exciting. There is a possibility that she'll have a healthy team to start the third segment, without having to make any moves.
Speaking of the segment race... the second segment is now down to its final two weeks and Clayton C. has a pretty good lead at the moment, working on 11 points on Dale B., scoring it 220 points to 209. Those are the only two teams over the 200-point mark in the second segment, but I would expect a good number to eclipse that mark in Week Seventeen. It's a 2-horse race though.
It's the second time in a month that we've seen Chris M. take a place in the Basement, as his team is improving their waiver draft pick on a weekly basis at the moment. With only 16 points in Week Sixteen, Chris' team has now dropped down to 18th place and is now only 13 points up on 20th spot.
There seems to be a new race down for the bottom of the pool, with a few of the dwelling teams trying to suck in a team or two that are just above them and with some of those bottom teams poised to improve their team a bit more than the others, we could have a race for the bottom of the pool yet.
Chris was not very fortunate in Week Sixteen, seeing a number of his better players vanish into thin air, scoring-wise, leaving the bulk of the heavy lifting to only a few players. Patrice Bergeron and Martin Erat accounted for half of Chris' production in the week, picking up 4 points each. There's a chance that Chris' team can bounce back, but it might not be until after the waiver draft.
There was a little bit of movement in the top five in Week Sixteen, as Kendra M. had a pretty big week and took 4th place back from Wes M., but only just barely. Kendra has the first tie-break in the season series with 8 more goals for, so this race is going to be awfully tight down the stretch. Don D. is knocking on the door of the money still, only 1 point back of 4th and 5th and we have a new contender storming up for the money, as Justin L. had a pretty big week and now he sits only 10 points back of 4th.
Jeff E. still has a sizeable lead, but teams still continue to make up ground on him from week to week, which is making this finish to the season, all the more exciting.
The big week in the pool belongs to our 2nd place team, Zac H., who has struggled over the past few weeks with his overall point totals, but one huge week before the All-Star break should give him a bit more breathing space for the stretch run. Zac's team finished with 68 points and they closed up a fair bit of ground on the overall lead. His big week was thanks to Jimmy Howard (8 points), Henrik Lundqvist (6), Martin St. Louis (5), Marian Hossa, Lubomir Visnovsky, Joffrey Lupul, Kristopher Letang and Tobias Enstrom (4). Zac's team appears to be quite safe, only having used four of his trades, he has lots of security from the unforeseen, so he is up for a good pay day at the end of the year.
Both Justin L. and Allan S. each had big jumps in the standings, moving up four spots each in the standings. Justin moved from 11th to 7th, while Allan went from 15th to 11th. Each team breaking the 60-point barrier in a pretty slow week, they did quite a bit of good in the pool.
Chris M. finished with the weekly lead in goal scoring with 27, but a mediocre week kept him down in 18th place this time around.
NEWS AND NOTES
The perils of a winter sport, even in California, seems to be the flu and Toni Lydman was a victim of it before tonight's Ducks and Avalanche game, keeping him out of Anaheim's line-up. The Ducks didn't seem to miss a beat without the veteran defenseman in the line-up, as they took a victory from the Avalanche on Sunday. I would imagine that we'll see Lydman dressed and back in the line-up before too long.
After a pretty good blindside hit on Saturday afternoon, Nathan Horton had to leave the game against the Flyers with an apparent head injury. The results of any testing were not disclosed, if known at all, and will probably wait to be announced for Monday or Tuesday. Nevertheless, it looks like Horton may be on the shelf for a significant amount of time, due to a pretty good headshot.
It sounds as though that Edmonton defenseman Ryan Whitney is on track to return from some ankle tendinitis early this week, as he has been out since the end of December with the health issue. This will likely come as welcome news for a team that has really struggled with injuries over the last few weeks. Whitney has not been an offensive force for the Oilers when he has been healthy, but he likely was battling injury issues in those 20 games.
One of the more interesting players available for the upcoming waiver draft, the Capitals' Marcus Johansson, was out of the line-up for the game against the Penguins, because of a touch of the flu. Johansson has stepped up and filled the void left behind by Nicklas Backstrom and has done well in that role. I would imagine that he should be back before too long, so keep an eye out for him when the picks and drops go down. If you want him right away, he's available on the sheet as well.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
It's All-Star Weekend next weekend in the NHL and that means that all of the weekend coverage, starting on Thursday, will revolve around the spectacle tht is the NHL All-Star Game. This year, the game will happen at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, home of the Senators.
The blog will be covering the All-Star festivities for the draft pool, giving everyone in the pool to see how their players have fared in the game, giving some people the ability to put up some side bets or what have you, trying to pick up points in the game.
Click here for the current rosters, separated by pool teams, but changes are likely with injuries that have been suffered already.
Last year, Leon G. took the All-Star Game title with only three players from his team in the game, picking up 8 points to win it all. The duo of Kristy and Don had six players in the game, but finished second in game scoring.