Welcome to the first hockey pool newsletter of 2012, as we draw ever closer to the halfway point of the regular season. Most teams are now reaching the 40-game plateau of their season and we now count down to the Winter Classic (which I have a preview of in my previous post) and then to the All-Star Game. It's all very exciting stuff.
In the draft, 1st to 5th is only separated by 15 points after this week, with Stacey C. still enjoying the lead for the second straight week. It was actually a low-scoring week, as we saw the lowest scoring rate per NHL game this season, averaging only 10.2 points per game in the draft, collecting 511 points in 50 NHL games. I am beginning to think that the holiday season caught up to the players a little bit and didn't put out that extra little bit of effort in their game.
The sheet pool is doing quite well, but we do have a runaway leader, which makes it a little less exciting, but most teams in the money race there did some catching up, so a few more weeks like that and we might start getting ourselves a race again.
The World Junior Championships are about to come to an end, with the Gold Medal Game going on Thursday night. That has been a pretty good tournament so far, hopefully you've been able to catch a game or two in Calgary or Edmonton.
Let's see how the pools shaped up this week...
Player of the Week honours will have to go through the tie-break, yet again, for Week Thirteen and it is between two players that have already taken home one honour this season, looking for a two-time honouree, which is somewhat amazing and sad at the same time. This week, it's two goalies, neither of which will have the goals scored in their favour, since neither of them is Cam Ward, so that's out the window, so the second tie-break should be wins. If either of our two candidates have a shutout in their 8 points this week, they're out. How disappointing... both have one shutout.
The one thing that I have seen between the two goalies is that one of them went 3-0-0, while the other went 3-1-0, so with the perfect record in the week and 8 points, Jonathan Quick is our Player of the Week... again.
A 4-3 win over the Coyotes on Monday, a 2-0 shutout over the Blackhawks on Wednesday and a 4-1 win over the Canucks on Saturday, gives Quick the pinnacle of the week's recap and helps Brenda F. stay afloat in the hockey pool draft this year.
Quick now has 46 points in the regular season to date, ranking 3rd among all players in pool scoring, 2nd in goalie points to the Player of the Week runner-up, Jimmy Howard. Quick has played fairly well this year, leading the league in shutouts, behind a team that had to make a coaching change for some pretty awful play earlier in the year, which just tells you how good of a goalie he has been this season.
Brenda's goaltending tandem is currently 1 point back of the pool lead in the positional category for scoring, with 84 points through Week Thirteen, which is also quite impressive. Brenda's goaltending tandem has now accounted for three Player of the Week honours this season, which is unheard of through 13 weeks.
We are witnessing one of the few waiver draft miracles of our time this season, as our Mover and Shaker for Week Thirteen is ripping the pool apart since the start of Week Ten, ranking 2nd in points in the second segment and tops in the weekly scoring after a very respectable 34-point week, Ryan M. is shaking his way up the standings and it is a shocking marvel to behold.
In the first nine weeks of the season, Ryan only had 28 points once, his first segment high. Since the start of Week Ten, he has had 28 points or better in each of the four weeks, including back-to-back 30+ weeks and he has gone from 20th to 12th in that time. Granted, he's still 49 points out of the money, but he is in the segment race and that's prize-winning time.
Ryan's big week in the pool came from Alex Ovechkin (7 points), Mathieu Garon (6) and Tyler Kennedy (4) leading the way, while only have three active players on his roster with zeroes, two of which were injury-related. The resurgence of Ovechkin is a huge hit, one that Ryan definitely needed, since he picked him 3rd overall and he currently ranks 53rd in pool scoring.
When Ryan was able to trade away a player (yes, only one player) in the waiver draft, the rest of his team finally came around and got healthier at about the same time and he has gone from one of the most unhealthy teams in the pool to a team that is above-average in the health department, which is probably the biggest factor in his success.
His defense and goaltending are the biggest keys, ranking highly in both of positions in second segment scoring, with decent support from his forwards. If he can keep this roll going, he could have a prize with his name on it and maybe even a fight for the money on his hands.
Moving in the opposite direction in the pool standings, albeit, not quite as quickly, is Chris M., who lost the first tie-break in the Basement Dweller match-up, having only 14 points in the week and 2 goals for. This has dropped him down from 16th to 17th in the standings, down from 14th at the end of the first segment of the season.
Out of those 14 points in total, Henrik Sedin had 6 points and Semyon Varlamov had 4 points, making up for 71% of his total output in only two players. Sedin finished the week in 2nd in pool scoring, 1st among all skaters, but his next best player, Patrice Bergeron, ranks 80th in pool scoring, which is an awfully large gap between players.
Chris' team ranks 21st in the pool for total goals scored this season with 56, which three teams in the pool have double that total or more to this point in the year.
In the second segment of the season, Chris ranks 20th in scoring with only 73 points in the first four weeks, with 73 points, 56 points behind the leader.
The conclusion of Week Thirteen in the sheet pool saw a small change in the money positions, as Kendra M. swapped spots with Clayton C., swapping the 3rd and 5th positions, respectively. Jeff E. continues to lead the pool by a fair margin, while Zac H. and Chris G. also remained stationary for the entire week.
The best week in the pool belonged to Don C.'s second team in the pool, which had 83 points throughout the line-up, which has to be one of the better weeks we have seen this season. Don hit all the right notes this week, seeing great performances from Jonathan Quick (8 points), Alex Ovechkin (7), Henrik Sedin (6), Martin St. Louis (6), Mathieu Garon (6), Daniel Sedin (5), Kevin Bieksa (5) and four others with 4 points each. This was Don's first time over 70 points this season with his second team and it has moved him up in the standings, from 25th to 23rd.
Scott G.'s first team and Caterina F.'s team each moved up the most positions in the pool this week, each team moving up five spots each. Scott went from 15th to 10th, while Caterina went from 21st to 16th, each with 70+ points in Week Thirteen, doing quite well.
In the goals category, both Chris G. and Caterina F. led the way, picking up 26 markers each, helping out their cause, if needed, for tie-breaking purposes. A very important statistic, indeed.
As of Monday morning, I do not have any trades to input and puck drops at 1pm MT for the Winter Classic, which includes the time change in Philadelphia, so you actually get an extra couple of hours to make any last tinkers with your team.
NEWS AND NOTES
On Saturday night, Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov left the game against the Penguins with a lower-body injury, which is believed to be a strain of some sort. Volchenkov did travel with the team to Ottawa for Monday's game against the Senators and has not been listed as much of anything to this point, so he'll be day-to-day, if he does miss the game at all.
Blues defenseman Ian Cole was handed a 3-game suspension on Sunday evening for a reckless hit to the head of Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader on the weekend. The open-ice hit was not looked upon well by the NHL and was rightfully assess the supplementary discipline. Cole will be eligible to return on the 10th, when the Blues take on the Canadiens. The suspension should not affect the pools in any way, especially since Cole has been a healthy scratch for the majority of the season.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
The first Hockey Night In Canada has some real promise to it, with a couple of good battles set to go. The first, an Original Six meeting and the late game will see another Northwest Division fight take place. Neither may not have the appeal of the Winter Classic, which goes later on today, but it they do have their own certain charm to it. For the highlighted player in these match-ups, we'll be looking at the top point-getter to date in each game.
In the early game, I would imagine us folks in the West will get to see the Detroit Red Wings take on the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. The Wings and Leafs do not get to see each other that often, which is too bad, given the historical meaning to this series, but when they do meet up, they can turn out to be pretty good games. This year, both teams have seen some ups and downs, Detroit mostly up at the moment, while Toronto has fallen out of the playoff picture. I still expect to see a good game though. Leading the way in this game is the overall point leader this season, Jimmy Howard, who has 55 points to this point in the year, leading the league in wins and 2nd in shutouts. It's beginning to look like he'll carry the team as far as they will go this year.
In the late game, it will be the fourth of six meetings of the year between the Minnesota Wild and the Calgary Flames, two Northwest Division rivals, working hard for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Wild are currently in a good battle for the Division lead, while the Flames are trying to find some consistency in their game, mostly in the 60 minutes in each game, rather than each game, as they have been consistently inconsistent. Calgary leads the series 2-1-0 to this point, going 1-1-0 at home, so far. The points leader between these two teams is Miikka Kiprusoff, who has 38 points this year, to date, ranking 23rd in pool scoring. He has been a workhorse for the club again, but it's looking more and more like he'll need a lot more help, if the team is going to make the playoffs this year.