I would have to say that this past week was one of the more impressive weeks for individual efforts and there were even some good team efforts out there, which kind of makes up for some of the weak weeks we've seen this year. Thankfully, we have a flat-out winner of the Player of the Week, saving ourselves from the tedious task of doing the tie-breaks. Anaheim Ducks number one goalie, Frederik Andersen was the best player in Week Nine, finishing with 9 points, his second Player of the Week nod already this season.
Andersen started his own 4-game winning streak on Monday of Week Nine, which went through, all the way to Sunday night, beating the Bruins, Flyers, Wild and Jets, which accounted for 8 of his 9 points in the week. It was in the 5-4 shootout victory against the Flyers on Wednesday, where Andersen added an assist on the 1-1 goal by Cam Fowler, which earned him the odd point in the week. The 25-year old Dane stopped 111 of 126 shots that came his way in the week and the Ducks sit atop the league standings through the week.
Through Week Nine, Andersen now ranks 12th overall in pool scoring, now with 14 wins, 1 shutout and 1 assist for 31 points, which ranks him in the thick of the 1st round-type players.
Andersen is also a part of the best goaltending tandem in the pool this year, belonging to Kristy & Don, who also have Pekka Rinne, as they have collected 69 points through the first nine weeks of the season.
Speaking of Kristy & Don... they also managed to snag their 4th Mover & Shaker nod of the first segment of the season. Their 37 points in Week Nine pushed their team further into the lead, opening up an 11-point lead again, not quite their biggest lead of the year, but still a significant lead, enough to stay safe for at least another week or two.
So, besides having the Player of the Week on their side, they also had 5 points from Brad Marchand of the Bruins, 4 points from both Mike Ribeiro of the Predators and John Carlson of the Capitals and then they had four players with 3 points a piece as well.
The duo also had four players on their active roster with zeroes, which included one injury, but they decided to stand pat at the Waiver Draft, passing both rounds and keeping their roster as is. With an 11-point lead in the standings, there just doesn't seem to be much point in changing anything.
Right now, the team looks like they'll be difficult to pass, but we still have two-thirds of the season left to go and who knows what can happen between now and the end of Week Twenty-Seven. Kristy & Don do have a good shot at being the first team ever to be 1st after Week One and 1st at the end of the year, which would be an incredible feat.
Injuries had decimated Wyllie's team at the end of the first segment and most of them have some upside to come back shortly into the second segment, so the two moves at the Waiver Draft were a mix of getting healthier and just plain getting better. Unfortunately, that didn't save his team from being the Basement Dweller in the week, finishing with only 13 points and dropping down from 20th to 22nd in the standings.
It looked like things were going to be different for Wyllie at the beginning of the season, finishing in 2nd place at the end of Week One, but things took a turn for the worst, dropping to 11th the next week and then it was a fairly steady decline to where he is now.
Wyllie added help from Long Island's Brock Nelson and Calgary's Josh Jooris to try and pump up his forwards, who have struggled mightily this season. He'll get Patrick Sharp back from injury here soon, while Mikael Backlund shouldn't be too far away, but defenseman Johnny Boychuk may be on the shelf for much longer.
It will be interesting to see if Wyllie can recover enough to stay out of the running for the Olli. That's something we'll touch on below.
POINTS FROM DROPPED PLAYERS
Well, before we get into too much of the good stuff and give away our first trophy of the year, I just wanted to point out here that starting tonight, all the players we picked up in the Waiver Draft become active and the points begin to count.
With that being said, as a final hurrah to those who we dropped, I would like to have a look at the players that went out with a bang!
Ales Hemsky & Cody Hodgson - Brenda, 1 point each
Brian Gionta - Cam, 1 point
Patrik Elias - Clayton, 1 point
Alex Semin & Kevin Bieksa - Dale B., 1 point
Dustin Brown - Wilton, 3 points
Jason Chimera - Wyllie, 2 points
Cam Atkinson & Stephane Robidas - Grant K,, 3 & 1 point(s)
Mathieu Perreault - Mike, 4 points
John-Michael Liles - Stacey C., 2 points
Mika Zibanejad - Stacey M., 7 points
Eddie Lack - Stuart, 4 points
Milan Michalek - Tony, 1 point
R.J. Umberger - Troy, 1 point
In reviewing the list, you may get the feeling that a few teams may have been a bit hasty with their decisions to drop a player or two, but those players were in the crosshairs, mostly because of their inconsistent play leading up to Week Nine, so it will be interesting to see if those players are at the top of the list, when we go back to the well and stock up on healthy bodies again. I'm sure a kid like Mika Zibanejad may be a worthy prize though.
The first trophy of the year gets moved today, as the first segment has come to a close and our pool leaders, which in turn winning our first segment of the season is... surprise, surprise... Kristy & Don. It was a dominating performance in the first segment, including four Mover & Shaker nods, two Player of the Week nods and seven out of the nine weeks on top of the standings. The duo currently has the best set of defensemen and the best goaltending duo, while their forwards remain above average. It will be a tough feat to continue, but they've settled in with their squad, so we'll watch how they go.
Of course, the first segment really speaks to the year-end trophy, so we won't dwell on that much further. Grant S. still has a secure hold on 2nd place, the next money spot, while Dale C. starts the second segment in 3rd place, 5 points clear of 4th and 6 points up on 5th.
For the Olli, Wyllie is making a run at Benson's spot in the basement, now only 5 points up on last place, while Benson gained 8 points on his competitor in Week Nine. The last four or five teams are not necessarily safe, but they sandbagged their leaks at the Waiver Draft, so this will be the first big test going forward.
Benson and Wyllie are also in a dogfight for the Jordan, Benson still 12 skater games down on Wyllie for the last trophy of the year. Wyllie's injuries have given him a good run at this one too. This is the big one, where the Waiver Draft picks should help and a measure of what kind of luck each team has had in the second segment.
Who needs a Waiver Draft when the pool has a week like this past one? Well, I'm sure most of you said, 'I do,' but as a whole, we did quite well. The pool collected a season-high 573 points in 49 NHL games on the schedule, the best scoring rate since Week Three.
Probably the most remarkable stat of Week Nine was that we were nowhere near a record in skater games played or minutes played by our goaltending, which meant that we pretty well saw our players make the best use of their time on the ice. Here's hoping that the addition of some healthy bodies, both skating and in the crease, increase the number of point overall.
WINNING EVERY WEEK
Week Eight concluded with 10 teams still in the race for the weekly winning streak survivor nod and Week Nine saw a couple more eliminations from contention.
Dale C. and Mike each got knocked off competition, as Corey Crawford was hurt and Ray Emery didn't win for Dale and neither Jake Allen or Chad Johnson picked up a win for Mike.
This leaves us with eight teams left in the race... Allan, Brenda & Seward, Clayton, Dale B., Grant S., Kristy & Don, Leo and Scott are all still in the mix. None of the eight teams did anything to help their cause at the Waiver Draft, as there could have been one move or two done to aid the chances of survival.
NEWS AND NOTES
It has to be pointed out that Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jakub Kindl has found his way into a healthy scratch rotation, missing out on a couple games in Week Nine, including Sunday's afternoon contest against the Carolina Hurricanes. It's hard to say what has drawn Kindl to the press box, but the coaching staff has seen something in his game that they don't like, so it is worth mentioning at this point of the season.
Kindl was the last pick made in the Week Nine Waiver Draft by Dale C., who is already dealing with a defender in a healthy scratch rotation in Ottawa in Patrick Wiercioch. Of course, Dale dropped suspended defenseman Slava Voynov, who was getting him nothing and picking up a Red Wings player shouldn't hurt his chances for points, but if he is in a scratch rotation, it won't be nearly as good as what he may have expected.
The Chicago Blackhawks have been getting some cap relief while Patrick Sharp was on the shelf with his lower-body injury, having placed him on the Long Term Injury Reserve, but now that he is eligible to come off, he appears to be ready to go and is now listed as probable to play on Tuesday, away to New Jersey. Sharp has 9 points in 13 games for the Blackhawks this season and has missed 14 games with the injury, so he should be fresh and ready to go.
This is great news for Wyllie, who is in need of some bodies back in his lineup, including the bodies he picked up in the Waiver Draft. Getting a guy like Sharp back in his game will help him immensely, especially if the Blackhawks can turn on the offense with the revitalized weapon in their arsenal.
The New York Rangers suffered an injury setback in their lineup at practice on Sunday, as forwards Chris Kreider and Carl Hagelin collided on the ice and Kreider was left to take the worst of it. Kreider is now listed as doubtful for Monday night's contest against the Penguins with neck spasms. If Kreider indeed misses the game, he will be listed as out day-to-day.
That's about all the details we can provide, as Dale B.'s team could use Kreider to start the second segment, starting 7 points out of the top 10 and 27 points out of the money.
Somewhat in the same boat as Kreider above, but in a bit better shape, is Eric Staal, who is now listed as a game-time decision for the Hurricanes, as they take on the Devils at home on Monday night. Staal took a teammate's shot in the foot in their game against the Red Wings on Sunday and didn't take part in the morning skate on Monday, so he is questionable going forward. I would think that Staal would be the kind of guy to play through the injury, but it really is hard to say in the end.
Also not a good start to the second segment for Troy, who starts in 11th, in a tie for 9th place, and is only 20 points back of the money. Again, I can't see Staal missing too much time after blocking a shot with his foot, if the team isn't saying that a bone is broken or anything. There hasn't been any confirmation either way, but I would 75% say that he'd play, if it is only a bruise.
Just when I thought I was going to have an easy finish to the Newsletter, the injuries kept rolling in... the Pittsburgh Penguins sent defenseman Olli Maatta back home to deal with an undisclosed injury, no details have been provided, but he will be listed as day-to-day until further notice. Maatta has already come back once from a cancerous tumour this season, but we'll wait and see what he's dealing with this time.
Maatta is one of Cam's defenders this season and his team is right in the thick of it all, 18 points out of the money in 8th place. His defense is in a tie for 3rd in points this season and Maatta is a big part of that offense from the back end. Cam is definitely hoping that this isn't a major injury.
Link to the Injury/News Page