Record Week for Scoring
I think it should be worth noting, especially two weeks before the second Waiver Draft, that the pool saw some record scoring numbers, as points were dropping from all over the place.
The pool collected 614 points in 48 NHL games in Week Fourteen, which made for an overall scoring high for the season and an average per NHL game high as well (12.8 ppg). The pool saw an increase in skater games collected, albeit a marginal increase, while goalie minutes went up a lot, as pool goalies found their way back from injury in the week.
Are we really going to need another Waiver Draft?
Biggest Lead of the Year
For the past few weeks, it was a well-documented two-horse race in the pool standings, as Grant and Chris were flip-flopping for a few weeks and it was all quite interesting. Week Fourteen took a turn for the worse for Chris, however, as his team completely face-planted in the weekly scoring, as Grant continued to push on at a high clip. Now Grant has an 18-point lead over Stacey C. and Chris, making for the biggest lead we've seen on a Monday morning this year.
The previous high was 7 points, also held by Grant in Week Two.
Tight Top Half
We may have the biggest lead in the pool this season, but my goodness, the top half of the pool is all kinds of tight and the prize race is nowhere near complete, as this has some real potential to go down to the wire. From 2nd place (Stacey C.) to 12th place (Benson), there is only 20 points that separates those teams, most of which could be sorted out in two great weeks.
With the Olympic Break going in the third segment, a lot of players are going to be rested up for a couple weeks and the condensed schedule after the break should make for one hell of a finish.
Second Segment Update
There was a little bit of separation in the second segment standings, as we're only two weeks from the finish of this race.
Cindy eclipsed her first segment total and has an 8-point lead in the standings for the second jersey, as her team has collected 171 points in the first six weeks of the segment. Derek Wilton, the hottest team in the pool right now, follows with 163 points, followed by Clayton at 162 points and Grant at 161.
We have outside shots coming from Benson at 157 points, Dale C., John and Ryan M. with 156 points, while Scott, Stacey C. and Stacey M. each have 155 points.
That's a very good race as well!
Last Week to Decide Second Waiver Draft Order
With Week Fourteen now in the books, Week Fifteen will be all about setting the order for Week Sixteen's Waiver Draft order or as I've been calling it, the Race for Steven Stamkos. The standings for the finish of Week Fifteen will determine who picks where and as the standings are, this Waiver Draft will be super important.
For Doug not to pick first in the new draft, he'll have to give up 9 points to Stuart or 14 points to Ryan V., which does appear to be a lot these days.
This is also a good week to hope your team has a lesser week than your nearest competitors, so you can have a better pick than them in the draft. Now that we're only a few points away from each other in the top half of the standings, dropping a few points here and there in Week Fifteen could be the difference between getting a marginally better replacement for an injured player on your roster. Don't laugh, it's true.
I guess if you're vying for a jersey prize, you may not want a lesser week, but you know what I mean.
We've tallied up all the points, we've done all the comparisons and as it stood, we had a tie for the Player of the Week... and it came down to the first tie-breaker, goals scored... and by a landslide, since one of those players was a goalie, Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes was our top scorer of the week, finishing with 9 points in Week Fourteen.
In four games played in Week Fourteen, Skinner scored 6 goals and added 3 assists for his 9-point total, which lifted his season totals to 20 goals and 13 assists in 32 games for the Canes. Skinner now ranks 55th in pool scoring this season, which would be a high 3rd round pick in the draft, if it happened today.
On Tuesday, he opened the week with 2 goals and an assist against Montreal, Thursday saw him pick up a hat-trick against the Washington Capitals, followed by an assist on Saturday against the Islanders and then one of each against the Predators on Sunday. A very productive week, indeed.
This is Clayton's first Player of the Week nod of the season, as Skinner has been one of his hottest players these days. Clayton's forwards rank number one in the pool in per game scoring, just a shade better than Cindy at the moment, picking up .803 points per NHL game.
It is a week of firsts here in the Newsletter, as Derek Wilton gets his first Mover & Shaker nod of the season, slightly edging out Tony for the honour in Week Fourteen, picking up one more point in the audit, a scoring change for the better, giving him 36 points and it has lifted him into the prize conversation again.
Wilton's team is running fairly healthy at the moment, having 13 of 14 players free from injury and the last one should be back fairly soon. Two of those 13 healthy players were unable to post points, but one is a back-up goalie, so that isn't too bad.
Craig Anderson led the way for Wilton in Week Fourteen, finishing with 6 points. Kyle Okposo and Shea Weber each had 5 points, while Ryan Getzlaf had 4 and three players finished with 3 points each.
What does this mean in the standings? Well, Wilton jumped back into the top 10 with the big week, as he went from 11th to 7th in the standings and now sits only 8 points out of the prizes. Wilton was last seen in the top 10 after Week Five, where he saw his team drop down to 15th after Week Eleven. Since Week Eleven, Wilton's team has been the hottest, leading the pool with 95 points in those three weeks and tied for the pool best in the last five weeks with 142 points.
The strength of Wilton's team has been his forwards, as they rank well-above average with 225 points to date, while his defense is okay at 69 points, but could use some more help in the crease with only 35 points. Wilton's team also ranks 2nd in the pool in goals scored with 123, only 6 goals back of the pool leader, Brenda.
With so many points divvied out in the pool this week, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the Basement Dweller saw the most amount of points to take the honour this year with 14, tied for the most this year (Week Six, Benson). This week also sees the highest position in the pool earn the Basement Dweller, as Chris went from 2nd place (a close 2nd place) to 3rd in the week, due to a tie-breaker.
Only two players really showed up for Chris in Week Fourteen, Thomas Vanek had 5 points and Marc-Andre Fleury had 4 points, making up for the gist of Chris' points. Six players then finished with one point, which leaves six active slots on his roster with 0 points, three of which were affected by injury.
Chris will open the week in 3rd place, tied with Stacey C. for 2nd at 339 points, 18 points back of 1st and only 2 points up on 4th, 3 points on 5th and 9 on 6th. This is how close it is and another off-week could send him into a tailspin, which could just as easily get him a better pick in the second Waiver Draft as well.
NEWS AND NOTES
First Waiver Draft disappointment, Mathieu Perreault, continues to struggle with the Anaheim Ducks, as he found himself in the press box again on Sunday, scratched for the game against the Canucks. The veteran centre has only managed to pick up 4 points in 13 games since being picked up, leaving Stuart's team yearning for more points from up front.
The word on Eric Staal is that he will be out for another few days, missing out on Sunday night's game with a lower-body injury. Staal was injured on Saturday, leaving the game against the Islanders, missing the game against the Predators on Sunday and will likely miss one or two more games with the injury as well. The Hurricanes play Tuesday, Thursday and Friday this week, so Staal may miss only two, maybe all three games.
Minneosta Wild forward Mikko Koivu has been placed on the Injured Reserve with a lower-body injury after blocking a shot with his foot on Saturday against the Capitals. This would mean that the Minnesota captain will be expected to miss the weekday games for the Wild and would likely remain questionable for the weekend tilts, both Saturday and Sunday games.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have had more than their fair share of injuries already this season, but a couple of their big names returned from the Injured Reserve, as both Evgeni Malkin and Kristopher Letang returned against the Jets and both of them made an impact in a 6-5 win. Both players picked up points and managed to sneak out a win on the road in a Sunday afternoon game.
Huge injury concern for the Tampa Bay Lightning, as their number one goalie, Ben Bishop, left Sunday's game against the Edmonton Oilers in the 1st period with an apparent hand injury. As of the early afternoon on Monday, there was no official word from the Bolts, as to the condition of their keeper, but I would imagine they will have something before too long. Bishop has been identified as the key component for the Bolts keeping this season together without Steven Stamkos, which makes up the large part of the injury concern.
More goaltending concerns in Vancouver, as Roberto Luongo was reportedly injured in Saturday's game against the Kings and the possible Olympic selection is to have an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the injury. Early quotes from Canucks management did not seem very optimistic, but Luongo was able to finish the game, despite getting injured, if that acts as any silver lining here.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
Saturday will see another doubleheader on Hockey Night In Canada and in Alberta, it looks like we'll get the Montreal Canadiens host the Chicago Blackhawks (from the cross-country feed) and then the late game will see the Pittsburgh Penguins invade the Saddledome to take on the Calgary Flames. No Maple Leafs this week... this should change the pick numbers a bit, eh?
Between these four teams, we have 53 players taken in the pool. As of Monday, we have four injuries, one is down for the year, one could be back in the week and the other two can go either way for Saturday. We also have a couple players in the minors, with no signs of return in the near future. Let's not forget those two back-up goalies as well!
These four teams also have 17 of the top 100 hockey pool scorers, picked in the pool this year, including the top three hockey pool scorers: Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane and Marc-Andre Fleury.
20 of the 24 teams in the pool have active players (today) in these match-ups, while two more teams have one player each and both those guys are injured at the moment, so it could go as high as 22 out of 24, if things go well.