Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 Winter Classic Preview

New Year's Day, 2015... the scene: Nationals Park in Washington, DC. This is where the NHL will hold the 2015 edition of the Winter Classic, the outdoor festival that celebrates the beginnings of our favourite game at sites in the United States, which make it far from being a classic, but from there, I digress.

This year, it will be a match-up of some teams previously involved in these outdoor games on January 1st, as the Chicago Blackhawks, veterans of their own Winter Classic previously, take on the Washington Capitals, who have visited other Winter Classic sites before hosting their own.

Where this blog is concerned is in the hockey pool, of course, and this is where the preview really starts to take shape.  I have a table below of all the players taken in the draft this year, where the Blackhawks have a two player edge over the Capitals, which suggests that our poolies thinks that this could be a close game, like many of the outdoor games have been.

Stacey C. has the decided edge in players in the game with four, three Blackhawks and the Capitals goalie... how undecided is that?  You have to think that Stacey is hoping for a slightly high scoring game with Washington coming out on top, right?

Clayton and Kristy & Don each have three players going in the game, all of which are offensive.  Clayton is mainly Chicago, 2-1, while the pool duo is all Washington, so there is a little bit of a clash of biases in that match-up.

Chicago Washington
Corey Crawford Dale C. Braden Holtby Stacey C.
--- ---
Patrick Kane Stacey C. Nicklas Backstrom Wilton
Jonathan Toews Stacey M. Alex Ovechkin Kristy & Don
Kris Versteeg Stacey C. Marcus Johansson Clayton
Brandon Saad Wes Joel Ward Stuart
Marian Hossa Stacey C. Troy Brouwer Kristy & Don
Brad Richards Clayton Evgeny Kuznetsov Benson
Patrick Sharp Wyllie
Andrew Shaw Stacey M.
--- ---
Brent Seabrook Leo John Carlson Kristy & Don
Duncan Keith Clayton Mike Green Troy
Niklas Hjalmarsson Dale C. Matt Niskanen Cam

After the game, we'll have a comparison of pool teams and how many points they got in this game.  It's really too bad that I wasn't able to secure a prize for the outdoor game, but with only 12 of 23 pool teams active in the Winter Classic, I may not feel quite so bad.

Player Notes in the Draft (Dec 31)

The St. Louis Blues are now facing their projected goaltending "situation," as Brian Elliott returned from his sprained knee on Tuesday night, getting the start against the Nashville Predators, losing 3-2.  Now the Blues have three healthy goalies: Elliott, Jake Allen and Martin Brodeur and it was the future Hall of Famer who took the seat in the press box for the game against the Preds, taking it in as a healthy scratch.

The Blues were quick to point out that Brodeur will still make another start for the team, but there are a lot of raised eyebrows, waiting to see what the team does in this situation.

With Elliott returning, that adds some projected games to Clayton's totals for the week, but the number of starts will be debated, especially with Mike having Allen and Dale C. having Brodeur.  This doesn't seem like an easy situation to manage, but you had to know that the Blues had some kind of plan going forward.

Would you believe that New Year's Eve is going to make for a busy day/evening in the NHL? Well, it is.  There are 11 games on the docket, starting at 3pm MT and they'll conclude nice and early for all of the New Year's celebrations.

Starts of note for the last day of 2014... Andrei Vasilevskiy is expected to start for the Bolts, as they look to rest Ben Bishop this afternoon against the Sabres.  Al Montoya is also expected to take an early start for the Panthers, leaving Roberto Luongo on the bench for the game against the Rangers.

Other than those two non-pool starters, everyone else should be registering points (or at least, minutes) for the pool.

The only three teams left in the survivor pool have their wins this week, so there is nothing we're waiting to see from that perspective.

Allan, Benson, Dale B., Wilton, Stacey M. and Troy are all scheduled to have both of their goalies going tonight, while eight other teams have one goalie going.  That means nine teams won't have any goalies going, as Scott and Stuart lose out to the non-pool goalies.

An updated list of injuries can be found here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Player Notes in the Draft (Dec 30)

An elbow injury, believed to be a sprain, has landed Jakub Kindl back on the news page and this time, he is on the Injured Reserve for at least a week.  The nature of the injury or how he suffered it wasn't disclosed, nor the expected timetable for his return.  Kindl hasn't been playing too much lately for the Red Wings, having been a healthy scratch a number of times as well.

Only one pool team has seen less games from their defenseman than Dale C., who has dealt with a number of healthy scratches, a domestic assault court case and now he'll deal through an elbow injury.  The lack of games has really caught up to Dale, as his defenders are the worst in the pool with only 30 points and a 0.29 points per game scoring rate.

An updated list of injuries can be found here.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Player Notes in the Draft (Dec 29)

Word from the Ottawa Senators camp on Monday is that the line rushes in practice are suggesting that defenseman Patrick Wiercioch is bound to be a healthy scratch once again.  Wiercioch has been a whipping boy for the Senators coaches this year, both Paul MacLean and now Dave Cameron.  In only 19 games this season, Wiercioch has 1 goal and 3 assists, yet he has a +5 rating in the plus/minus department, which is tied for fourth on the team.  Wiercioch will make way for Chris Phillips tonight against the Sabres.

This is nothing new on Dale C.'s team, as you can tell from the number of games played this year.  Dale is 4 points out of the money and hasn't seen much in the way of points from Wiercioch, which would likely be the difference between sitting in 5th, as he is now, and 3rd place.

The busiest week on the NHL schedule gets underway tonight with 12 games on the docket, which means we'll have 24 goalies active. The early indication on Monday afternoon... every goalie starting tonight is in the hockey pool! Hooray!

There are five goalies unconfirmed on at the time of this post, but they do list likely candidates for starts, which is fairly accurate, as things do change from hour to hour in some cases.

Four teams in the pool will have both goalies going for their teams and they are Benson, Cam, Dale B. and Dale C..  20 out of 23 teams have goalies going, which means there are three that don't... Wyllie, Mike and Ryan.

I think the biggest question mark comes from the Toronto Maple Leafs, as James Reimer is currently listed as the probable starter, but Jonathan Bernier did meet the team in Tampa Bay after missing Sunday night's game with an illness.  There has been no confirmation as to whether or not it will be Reimer or Bernier and it is likely that Christopher Gibson will be sent back to the minors.  Right now, Reimer is the probable goalie and if he gets bumped, that means Stuart goes to the list of teams without a goalie playing and Troy would be added to the teams that have both goalies going.

An updated list of injuries can be found here.

Evander Kane Out Until February

Things are not looking up on Evander Kane's 2015 season, which has already been mired in injury, as the scoring winger is well on his way to making the Injury Prone list with his next stop on the Injured Reserve, as he is now dealing with a lower-body injury and is now expected to be out until February.

The injury is believed to be a foot injury, likely a broken bone, after blocking a shot in the game against the Wild on Saturday night.  If that is indeed the case, being in the 4-week range sounds about right, although some broken foot injuries have returned sooner.

With injuries and suspensions, Kane's season has obviously not been very good, by pool standards. In 26 games, Kane only has 6 goals and 9 assists for 15 points, as he is scoring at 0.58 points per game. Kane finished the week in 234th overall in pool scoring and will now sink like a rock with this injury.

Kane was a 5th round pick, 95th overall, for Grant K. this year, as he was somewhat expected to finally start living up to some expectations.  That has been pretty far from the case, because instead of being a 5th rounder, he had been playing like an 11th round pick.  It will be interesting to see if his ranking when he comes back is even relevant to the pool.  He will have a chance to make up for some lost time, but he's already 8 points behind the pace of where he should be and take a month away, it should be much worse.

An updated list of injuries can be found here.

Week Twelve Newsletter

Newsletter Header

The holidays came early for the Arizona Coyotes and Sam Gagner, who came away with a pretty big week and likely a load of presents from Santa for being a good boy. Gagner was one of two players in the week to finish with 6 points, but the other was Capitals goalie Braden Holtby, to which Gagner only needed a single goal to beat him in the tie-breakers.

Gagner started his own personal 3-game point streak in the holiday week, starting with an assist against the Canucks on Monday, 2 goals and 2 assists on Tuesday against his old club in Edmonton and then added another assist against the Ducks on Saturday night.  2 goals and 4 assists, more than enough to take the title for Week Twelve.

For the season, this brings Gagner's numbers up to a less-than-impressive 17 points, which has him ranked 199th overall in pool scoring.  Gagner did get off to a very slow start to his season, but has ramped it up, with 13 points coming since the middle of November.

This is just another player hitting his stride at the right time for Kristy & Don, who have seen some downturns for a few of their players, who were hot earlier in the year.  The duo took Gagner with the 239th pick, so they are starting to see a bargain emerge, especially if he stays hot.

PhotobucketLooks like someone's team is really hitting their stride and it could be everyone else's concern in the money before too long.  Wilton's team has been hot of late and in Week Twelve, they were the hottest team in the pool, picking up a weekly-best 29 points and his team moved up from 12th to 6th in the process.  Leaps and bounds, I believe is what you can call that move.

Wilton now sits only 5 points back of 3rd place and has his sights set on a return to the money ranks and with the number of points in recent weeks.

In Week Twelve, saw a huge week from John Gaudreau in Calgary, who had 5 points, while Nikita Kucherov in Tampa and Gustav Nyquist in Detroit each had 4 points.  Three more players each had 3 points in the shortened week and it all added up pretty quickly.  On the flip side, only three of his players failed to pick up points and one of them had injury concerns in the week as well.

In the supporting statistics department, Wilton was one of the healthier teams in the week, which supports his team as the 2nd-healthiest team for skaters, now having 413 games played by his forwards and defensemen.  His goalies have been okay, making a couple starts in the week and picking up a win in the process, but overall, they are only just above-average in their minutes played.

There are some more notes to how good Wilton's second segment has been going a little later on in the Newsletter, so I won't beat this horse here quite yet.

PhotobucketIt was a rough week for another team in the top 10, as Stacey M. is going in the opposite direction as Wilton, having been passed by him in the process.  Stacey's team only managed to collect 8 points in the shortened week, which dropped her team from 4th to 8th and she sees a 9-point gap between her team and 3rd place.  That gap is nothing to sneeze at, especially given what Wilton's team did with a hot week, but no one wants to drop in the standings at any point in the season.

Marian Gaborik of the Kings and Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks were the only notable players on Stacey's team in Week Twelve, each picking up a couple of points.  Stacey had no love from her goalies and minimal love from other players, as four other players picked up single points in the week.

In terms of participation in the week, her skaters only made 20 appearances on the ice, which wasn't the worst, but only one game better than the worst, where Wilton saw 26 games and Kristy & Don saw 29 games.  Stacey's team only saw one start in net for her keepers as well, thanks, in part to injury as well.

There's a good chance that Stacey's team will return to being dangerous again in a busy Week Thirteen.


Another week... a larger lead for Kristy & Don over Grant S., now 37 points, and a larger lead for Grant S. over Tony, now 31 points for 2nd place.  Those are some comfortable numbers, which we may not see shrink any time soon.

The race for 3rd place, however, is a raging production of heat!  She's hot!  Tony's lead was 6 points after Week Eleven, but it now sits at 3 points and now, as mentioned above, 8th place is only 9 points away.  It would be really impressive, if this group vying for 3rd place would all get hot together and chase down the top two, but that doesn't seem likely at this point.  I shouldn't forget about 9th and 10th place in the standings either... they are only 12 points out, at worst.  Clayton, Dale C., Wilton, Cam, Stacey M., Troy and Wes... all in the mix for 3rd place.

For as hot as Wilton has been, he only ranks 2nd in the second segment in scoring, trailing Brenda & Seward, who have been just a bit hotter.  The pool's second duo sits at 89 points, Wilton has 85 points and Kristy & Don are at 83 points, as they lead the way by a clear 15 points over 4th place.  This race could be for three horses and three horses only before too long.

Now, how about the bottom of the pool?  Well, well, well... looks like Benson's team has finally woken from its slumber, as they had a good week, picking up 26 points and they closed the gap on Wyllie, who is now only 2 points better.  The Olli may have a new home here soon.  Ryan is only 8 points clear of Benson after his big week and Allan is only 15 points clear.

Benson is also starting to try and make a move out of the Jordan contention, where Wyllie is the most likely candidate to take his spot there as well.  Benson's skaters saw 26 games, but still has a 19-game gap to Wyllie, while Dale C. is still 24 games up, as the next closest.  Wyllie's team saw 21 games in Week Twelve, while Dale C. had 20.  Another team with their hat in the ring is Allan's, who saw the least amount of games in the week, with 19, and his team is 27 games up.  This race could be more interesting before too long... or until the Week Eighteen Waiver Draft anyways.


One of the more interesting additions to the Newsletter this season, the goalie wins survivor pool (unofficial), may become something more official next season, as it has been really interesting to watch.

In Week Twelve, thanks to the holiday break, in part, we had more eliminations.  Officially, we are now down to three teams left in the survivor pool, as the Christmas break took its toll on this pool.  Antti Niemi couldn't win for Allan and Marc-Andre Fleury couldn't get a win for Clayton, as both teams had their second goalies out during the week to injury.

This leaves the top two teams in the pool, Kristy & Don and Grant S., plus the streaking duo of Brenda & Seward, left in the survivor pool, which next year, will likely be worth your money back, if all my plans come to fruition.


Along with the goalie survivor pool, I think there will be some merit in a rookie scoring pool as well.  This may have more of an effect on teams that may be out of the running for the money at the Waiver Drafts, as lower teams may find something to fight for, possibly to get some money back.

This season, to date, Wilton has a 2-point lead in the category over Mike, as their rookies have been good this year.  Wilton is tops with 29 points, thanks to John Gaudreau of Calgary, while Mike is at 27 points, on the back of Jake Allen in St. Louis.

Most notably from the Waiver Draft, Brenda & Seward picked up the best rookie, Filip Forsberg in Nashville, who has their only 9 points in the race, but they now rank 6th in the pseudo-competition this year.

Would this have changed your strategy at the Week Nine Waiver Draft if it was active?


Since we are now three weeks clear into the second segment, I think it is now a good idea to see what the Waiver Draft has done for teams and I've now found a way to see the good from the bad.  I have now put in some metrics in the hockey pool sheet to measure the difference between the players picked and dropped, since Week Nine, just to give us a good idea.

At the end of Week Twelve, the team with the best bang for their buck belongs to Wilton, who has seen a +9 point difference from the players he's dropped to the players he's picked up in the first three weeks of action.  Wilton owns the top player taken in the Waiver Draft, Tampa's Nikita Kucherov, who has picked up 11 points in the last three weeks.

Of course, with the best, there also has to be the worst.  Unfortunately for Mike, his only move at the Waiver Draft has cost him 7 points to the bad, as Christopher Higgins hasn't quite done it in Vancouver since being picked up, only registering a single point, while Mathieu Perreault of the Jets has been on fire since being dropped, picking up 8 points.

15 of 21 teams that made moves are in the plus since the Waiver Draft, one team is even steven and the other five have made some mistakes in their moves.  The shallow pool of the available players worked as a misnomer, it would seem.


Pick # Round Pool Team Player NHL Pos Points
302 14 Derek Wilton John Gaudreau CAL F 29
309 14 Grant Saskiw Jori Lehtera STL F 25
304 14 Allan Scott Alex Tanguay COL F 24
322 14 Stuart Greenley Carl Hagelin NYR F 14
314 14 Kristy & Don Jiri Tlusty CAR F 13
308 14 Stacey McDonald Lars Eller MTL F 12
315 14 Clayton Corley Thomas Hickey NYI D 11
306 14 Mike Somerville Chad Johnson NYI G 10
321 14 Cam Wagner Brian Gionta BUF F 9
317 14 Ryan Miller Dan Girardi NYR D 8
320 14 Grant Kanwischer Dennis Seidenberg BOS D 8
300 14 Scott Gilmore Patrik Berglund STL F 7
311 14 Dale Bradley Andrew MacDonald PHI D 7
319 14 Brian Towers Dan Hamhuis VAN D 6
303 14 Brenda Farrell Radko Gudas TAM D 5
312 14 Leo Macht Matt Stajan CAL F 5
313 14 Tony Dourado Tom Gilbert MTL D 5
301 14 Dale Corley Patrick Wiercioch OTT D 4
305 14 Benson Greenley Fedor Tyutin CBJ D 3
307 14 Wes Moroz Ryan Murphy CAR D 1
318 14 Troy Berkley Sam Reinhart BUF F 1
310 14 Stacey Campbell Dany Heatley ANA F 0
316 14 Derek Wyllie Sam Bennett CAL F 0

Definitely, one of the more interesting rounds of the draft, especially in a draft that is this deep, is that last round of the draft, in this case, Round 14.  As you can see, through Week Twelve, there were some home runs hit, to date, and some duds, which were dropped a few weeks ago.  Some players have the ability to still make themselves relevant in the draft, while a few others were likely left active on rosters, because draft teams had bigger fish to drop (and fry).

There were 322 picks made in the draft this year, the last 23 coming in this round and only six of these players are still considered relevant, although a couple of them could still wiggle their way into relevance with a strong second half of the season.


I don't think the NHL collective liked what I said about taking the week off around Christmas at all, as they stepped up and put together the second-best week of the season, in terms of average pool points collected per game on the schedule.  The least-busy week of the year, to date, 32 games, picked up 404 points, which was good enough for 12.6 points per NHL game, still short of the 13.2 points per NHL game in Week One, but that's okay.

The pool was a touch healthier among the skaters and the goalies saw just a little bit more time, but it was open season on the scoresheet and that's all that really matters in the end.

Boy, if we could have that kind of scoring pace in Week Thirteen, it would be like fireworks going off.  Week Thirteen has 54 games scheduled, the busiest week on the schedule and if we saw 12.6 points per NHL game, we should all be sharing in 680 points (or so).  That would be a fun week to write about.


On Sunday afternoon, the Islanders activated Jaroslav Halak from the IR, as it appears he just needed an extra couple days to get over whatever muscle tweak he had that ailed him.  I would imagine that he would then get the start on Monday night, home against the Capitals.

This means it should be a good start for Tony in Week Thirteen, getting his number one goalie back.  Halak is in the top 10 in pool scoring and obviously, his most important player.  I'm sure he's hoping that the return isn't premature and he doesn't injure himself further.

The Carolina Hurricanes are fully expecting to have pool forward Jiri Tlusty back in their lineup on Monday night against the Canadiens and they will also expect to see non-pool forward Jordan Staal make his season debut on Monday as well. Tlusty has been out with an upper-body injury and has missed the last couple of weeks with the ailment. Staal, on the other hand, will be returning from an Achilles injury, which he suffered just before the hockey pool draft.

Tlusty belongs to the leading pool duo, Kristy & Don, who have one of the best 14th round picks with the Czech this season.  With them getting a body back this week, it will be that much easier to pad their lead.

Staal should be a prime candidate for selection in the Week Eighteen Waiver Draft, assuming all goes well upon his return.

A late scratch on Sunday afternoon, Maple Leafs number one goalie Jonathan Bernier was under the weather, so he ended up sitting for the game against the Florida Panthers, making way for James Reimer to make an unscheduled start. Bernier was tabbed to make the Sunday start, while Reimer would turn around and start the Monday night game against the Lightning in Tampa.  The Leafs have been good rotating goalies on back-to-back nights, thanks to analytics, so it will be interesting to see if Bernier will be good to go or whether or not Christopher Gibson, who was called up on Sunday, will get his first NHL start.

This acts as a missed start for Troy this past week, which didn't help his point totals at the end of the week.  Troy was hoping to pick up an extra couple points, but that wasn't the case in the end.

The injury bug continues to have its teeth deeply entrenched in the Penguins' roster this season, taking another bite out of forward Patric Hornqvist, who is now slated to miss a few weeks with a lower-body injury.  Unfortunately, that is the extent of the information available at the time of this post, but I would expect to see Hornqvist to be put on the IR here shortly, as the Penguins will take on the Devils in New Jersey on Monday night.

Hornqvist has been one of Allan's best forwards this season with 29 points in 33 games and was one of my key players in my projection post for the Penguins, but injury troubles will certainly hinder those numbers.  Allan isn't safe from the bottom of the standings, by any stretch, and this loss could be costly.

On Monday, the Boston Bruins revealed that both forwards Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic will not be available to go, thanks to undisclosed injuries.  Both players were hurt in the team's last game against the Blue Jackets and both players are listed as out day-to-day.  No details have been announced, nor any timetables, so we'll have to sit tight on this one.

Two injuries for teams outside of the top 10, as Grant K. has Bergeron and Lucic belongs to Dale B., both teams going in opposite directions, in terms of goals scored.  Grant leads the pool with 101 goals for, while Dale is last with 54 goals.  Neither team is seemingly going in the right direction in the standings though.

Link to the Injury/News Page

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Player Notes in the Draft (Dec 28)

Sounds like a wrist injury may sideline Wild forward Mikael Granlund for a period of time, as he left Saturday night's game against the Jets after taking a hit from Dustin Byfuglien.  The initial word from the Minnesota coaching staff is that Granlund will be out indefinitely with his injury, not exactly confirming that the injury is to his wrist, nor confirming a concrete timeline for his return.  The Wild are in Winnipeg on Monday for the return game of a home and home series and I would expect Granlund to stay back for more tests, determining when he is back.

This injury is definitely going to sting Stuart, especially if it is for the long-term.  Stuart's team has already dropped from 10th to 12th this week and possibly losing out on one of his forwards may see an even greater drop before too long.  His team is only 3 points up on 13th and 7 points up on 14th and didn't exactly perform too well in the shortened week.

It has been another tough season for Penguins defenseman Kristopher Letang, as the injury-prone blueliner has felt some more lumps this season, taking another big one against the Capitals on Saturday, injuring his right leg.  Letang was on the wrong end of an Alex Ovechkin hit and then an Ovechkin shot, late on in the 3rd period, to which he left the game, likely more as a precautionary measure.  We'll likely hear more on Monday about the severity of the injury.

By no means is this a crushing blow to Kristy & Don at this point in the season, they are still cruising right along, without a care in the world at the moment.  It does happen to suck for them, as one of their players takes out the other, something we have already seen in the pool once to another team.

Only two games on the NHL docket for this Sunday, so the goalie post becomes really easy.

Toronto @ Florida... it looks like it will be Jonathan Bernier against Roberto Luongo, as it likely should be, especially since both teams didn't play on Saturday night.  This would mean a Troy vs. Stuart match-up in the pool, as Stuart sits 9 points back of his goaltending match-up.  If James Reimer got the start, both of Stuart's goalies would have gone head-to-head.  Now, he only has a 50% chance of the 2 points.

Vancouver @ Anaheim... we should be seeing Ryan Miller in net for the Canucks and even though that the Ducks played on Saturday night, it sounds like Frederik Andersen will still make back-to-back starts.  It may not be confirmed for a bit yet, but if this is indeed the case, it would be a match-up of the top two teams in the pool, vying for goalie points.  Kristy & Don increased their lead to 36 points and could put 2 more points on it with a Ducks win.

An updated list of injuries can be found here.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Player Notes in the Draft (Dec 27)

All Sergei Bobrovsky wanted for Christmas was to stay healthy and happy, but what he got was a stomach virus and that will keep him from starting the big game against the Bruins on Saturday evening.  The Blue Jackets are in need of a good start to the post-Christmas break, as they are well out of a playoff spot at the moment and a good stretch before the All-Star break could really set things in motion.  The virus is supposed to keep Bobrovsky out for a couple of days, by the sound of things, as the team has recalled Anton Forsberg to play back-up behind Curtis McElhinney.

Bobrovsky has made 24 appearances in the Columbus net so far this season, picking up 28 points in those games for Wilton in the pool standings.  As of Saturday morning, that would place him 52nd overall in pool scoring, 17th among goalies.  The loss of a start is a tough break for Wilton, who was tabbed in yesterday's preview for the Mover & Shaker this week, but he'd need his number one guy for a couple points, at least.

The New York Islanders started off the post-holiday break with placing Jaroslav Halak on the Injured Reserve, retroactively to December 20th, which would mean he is eligible to come off at any time.  Halak had missed the last couple of starts for the Islanders before the break with an undisclosed injury and the only indication from the beat reporters on Saturday morning was that it is likely a lower-body injury, more likely a groin tweak.  Either way, they have placed their number one goalie on the IR and have recalled Kevin Poulin and he'll start in front of Chad Johnson, as the Islanders are in Buffalo tonight.

Bad news for Tony, who loses a goalie start, whilst fending off teams from his 3rd place perch and bad news for Mike, who doesn't pick up a start, while trying to work his way back into the top 10.  A lost pool start all around from the Islanders, who are not helping the stats very much.  Also, with Halak going on the IR, it means that the projected game gets taken off and Tony has no goalie games projected for the rest of the week.  Yikes!

At Saturday morning's pregame skate for the Lightning, forward Jonathan Drouin was sent home after saying he wasn't feeling very well.  The speculation is leaning more towards the stomach bug that had sidelined a couple of his teammates before the break, more than it could be the mumps, but as the way mumps testing has gone, it has taken a few days to get a final diagnosis on the case.  Nevertheless, Drouin is now expected to miss tonight's game against the Hurricanes, as the Bolts start the post-holiday break with a division game.

Drouin has been up and down all season long for Dale C., who really could have used Drouin's participation tonight.  Dale is 5 points out of 3rd place and has seen decent production out of Drouin, when he is in the line-up, 14 points in 27 games.

There are 13 games on the schedule tonight and we've already touched on a few goalies who won't be dressing tonight for their respective teams, so we might as well collect some more data, see if we can provide with a better preview of the upcoming action.

The early indications for the hockey pool are not very good, however.  Four out of the 15 goalies already tabbed to start tonight, as of Saturday morning, are not pool goalies, which won't add to our overall totals.  Niklas Svedberg for Boston, Curtis McElhinney for Columbus, Calvin Pickard for Colorado and Kevin Poulin for Long Island are all taking starts away from our guys.

Notable starters so far... Jimmy Howard returns to the net for the Red Wings after missing some time over the last seven days, Darcy Kuemper starts for the Wild, Jake Allen tabbed over Martin Brodeur in St. Louis, Ben Bishop returns from a bout of the flu for the Lightning and Michael Hutchinson gets the start for Winnipeg tonight.

As for our potential Mover & Shaker this week, Kristy & Don, they do have both of their goalies projected to play tonight, Frederik Andersen against the Coyotes and Pekka Rinne against the Flyers.  That doesn't bode well for the teams chasing them down again.

An updated list of injuries can be found here.

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Weekend Preview (Week Twelve)

Since we have some time to look ahead, without the hindrance of new news and games, I thought I would take some time and preview the last two days of Week Twelve and give an update to some of the longer-term injuries, if I can.

The Mover & Shaker nod appears to be heading to the top of the table, yet again, as Kristy & Don figured 19 points on Monday and Tuesday night, plus they appear to be in the top end of projected games played with 14.  Wilton is definitely in the running for the nod, going into Saturday night's action with 17 points.  If we needed a second hope, we would have to go all the way down to the basement to find Benson with 13 points, as his team tries to claw its way back into the rest of the hockey pool society.

It's a pretty good race for the Basement Dweller in the shortened week, the lack of games to be played, really brings the whole race together.  Stacey M. currently leads the way with only 4 points, while Stuart, Ryan and Wyllie each have 5 points to stay close.  Stacey does have the upper hand, however, thanks to her collection of Montreal Canadiens and their lack of games in the next two days..  Stacey is at the bottom of projected games with only 10 to speak of.

Three players have an early shake at the Player of the Week nod, as Sam Gagner of the Arizona Coyotes, who belongs to Kristy & Don, has 5 points through a couple of games, while Semyon Varlamov, coming off injury, has a shutout for the Colorado Avalanche and Benson, as does Jonathan Bernier of the Toronto Maple Leafs, belonging to Troy.  Gagner and the Coyotes host the Ducks on Saturday night, Varlamov is the likely starter against the Blackhawks, also on Saturday, while Bernier and the Leafs are in Florida to take on the Panthers on Sunday.  Looks like Bernier has a pretty good shot at the title, don't you think?

Speaking of the schedule, there are 15 games left in Week Twelve, where everyone plays, except for the Habs, as mentioned above, while the Ducks have a couple of games... away to Arizona, home to Vancouver.  The Ducks goaltending situation, especially when it comes to the Mover & Shaker nod, does get very interesting.  Will Kristy & Don see a couple of starts for Frederik Andersen or will he share the duty with Ilya Bryzgalov... and if so, which keeper gets which game?  (Cue the ominous music)

In the Week Eleven Newsletter, Statistically Speaking, I thought that scoring might go down in the week, as players start to think of the holidays, but mentioned that the pool saw an upturn in scoring, as goalies get victimized the most by the holiday excitement.  Certainly, the latter rung true on Monday and Tuesday, as the pool managed to pull 13.2 points per NHL game, scoring a shade higher than how Week One finished.  I wonder if Saturday and Sunday will tighten up or stay loose, as teams shake of the turkey rust.

Let's now have a peek at some of the injury news that we have going into the weekend...

On Friday morning, the Penguins concluded that out of the three players that they took before the break to undergo mumps testing, only two of them came back positive, Thomas Greiss and Steve Downie, which meant that pool forward Brandon Sutter was cleared to return to the team and should be deemed probable for Saturday's game.  Sutter has been officially cleared to rejoin the team and the Penguins will host the Capitals on Saturday night.

This is good news for Stacey C., who has seen some inconsistent improvements since being in the pool basement, back in Week Four.

Although there is no confirmation of the kind, just yet, the Ducks are awfully close to getting one of their best players back, as Corey Perry has been skating and seems to be on pace to return from a knee injury, possibly this weekend.  The Ducks did rule out him playing this past Monday before the holiday, but there were hints that his return was imminent.  It may be fair to say that he's day-to-day now, but continuing to be on the Injured Reserve will mean that his projected games will remain at zero.

Dale C. has an outside shot at the Mover & Shaker, if Perry comes back with a storming vengeance.  Dale currently sits in 4th place, with 11 points on the week, his team is only 5 points back of 3rd and Perry's return would put him on par in projected games played with Tony, who holds the spot.

Just before the holiday break, it was put out there that Tyler Myers will be looked at on a week-to-week basis, dealing with a lower-body injury.  Myers hasn't yet been put on the IR, according to any of the sources that I've read, but it would make sense that he would, if this was the case.  Myers was listed as out day-to-day, but as teams recall players for practice, we may see the move made in the end.

This could mean that a projected game for Week Twelve will be taken off of Mike's numbers for the weekend, but it's hard to say for sure.  If you see his numbers go down, the trip to the IR has been made and he may remain out for a little while.

As of a week ago, Calgary Flames forward Mikael Backlund has been on the ice, skating to likely gain some of his strength back, this after abdominal surgery at the end of October.  This was going to be a long-term injury and as of right now, there hasn't been much of a concrete update on his condition.  He hasn't reached day-to-day status yet.

Wyllie's group of current Flames hasn't done him many favours, especially after cooling off from their rocket of a start.  Backlund was kept around, as Wyllie hopes for a second segment return, but the likelihood of seeing that before too long seems rather optimistic.

All signs are pointing to a return to the lineup for Columbus' Scott Hartnell, who has been out for a couple of weeks with a broken finger.  Hartnell will jump back into a Blue Jackets lineup, which has been marginal, at best, leading up to the break.  Hartnell suffered his injury at the beginning of the month, so a few weeks has been the regular timetable for a commonly diagnosed broken finger, so it should be all guns a blazin' on Saturday night, home to the Bruins.

We are just awaiting confirmation of his activation from the IR, but Dale B. could be in line for another healthy body, as his team gets closer and closer to a full roster again.  Couldn't come at a better time either, as his team has slid mightily in recent weeks.

The Detroit Red Wings goaltending situation still seems to be a bit cloudy, heading back from the holiday break.  Jimmy Howard is currently on the IR, but day-to-day with a groin problem, as Petr Mrazek got the last start on Tuesday for the team.  No word yet, as to whether or not Howard will be good to go on Saturday.  Furthermore, the preseason back-up for Howard, Jonas Gustavsson, has been out since the beginning of November, following shoulder surgery.  He was expected to miss two months with the recovery, but with only a week or so until the two month mark, there really hasn't been too many concrete updates.

Dale B. could go completely healthy, if Howard gets the green light on Saturday night, but Wyllie didn't make a move on Gustavsson at the Waiver Draft, which may continue to hinder his progress through the second segment of the season.

An update in Philadelphia, as the Flyers goaltending situation has been murky with the injury to Steve Mason.  Mason has been on the IR since the 19th and is eligible to return for the weekend, but the Flyers brass has confirmed that Mason won't play on Saturday, but is targeting a Monday return to the lineup.  Mason has been dealing with an upper-body injury, which hasn't necessarily kept him off the ice, but it has kept him from other goalie duties at practice.  Things don't look too bad here.

Great news for Allan, who has seen his team descend into the ranks of the basement, sitting only 23 points over last place and has held steady in 20th place for the last three weeks.  Allan's team is 16th in scoring in the second segment, but he'll need to see improvement, if he wants to stay out of the newly renovated basement.

More goaltending news, this time in St. Louis, as Brian Elliott has returned to practice, just before the holiday break, which suggests that he's growing closer to a return and the Blues are getting closer to some tough decisions, if they haven't already been made ahead of time.  Elliott has been out since the end of November with a sprained knee, which caused the team to go out and sign Martin Brodeur to a contract, so he could platoon the crease with Jake Allen.  I would think that the Blues would have a plan in place for the return of Elliott and the three goalies, so it will be interesting to see what it is, when the time comes.

Running in the money race means you need both your goalies going at a full capacity.  Clayton has been fortunate to stay close in the race without a second goalie for a few weeks.  If Elliott returns and goes on a run of his own, that could mean good things for the 5th place team.

The last update on Toronto forward Leo Komarov is that he won't be ready to go until January, dealing with a concussion.  Komarov was smoked by Alex Ovechkin at the end of November and the Maple Leafs were very slow to confirm that it was actually a concussion that Komarov had suffered, leading everyone on that he was more of day-to-day kind of hurt.  This has turned out to be the furthest from the case and the once-hot Komarov has likely cooled his scoring heels since the injury.

This was amazingly disappointing for Grant K., who thought he was getting a good deal at the Waiver Draft for Komarov, but likely wasn't too sure of the risks of taking him.  Grant K.'s team has not been great in the second segment, tied for 15th in points since the turnover and has dropped from 7th to 11th since the end of Week Nine.