Sunday, April 10, 2016
Morning Player Notes in the Draft (Apr 10)
Welcome to the last edition of the player notes this season! Okay, probably the last notes in the regular season. Of course, we'll still be pumping out the news in the playoffs, but with only two games left today, we're closing out the regular season. Two games, the audit on Monday morning and then the year-end Newsletter, before the prizes go out.
Let's see what kind of notes we've got. We'll try and prioritize them accordingly.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, already hurting from injuries at this time of the year, wasn't going to risk a couple of their most injury-prone players in the last game of the year, so they sat both forward Sidney Crosby and defenseman Kristopher Letang for the game against the Flyers, a game that meant more to their rivals than themselves, a good game to sit their stars. The Penguins dropped that game, 3-1, allowing the Flyers to clinch a playoff spot, but they won't play each other in the opening round, much to their joy, I'm sure.
Letang is the big ticket player between the two, as he sat while Jeremy anxiously looked down from his perch in 1st place, but his team managed to survive that super Saturday and his team finished the night with a 9-point lead and the relative certainty that he'll win this year's 1st place prize. Crosby, on the other hand, has a little more value in the Playoff Pool than the draft, as Mike couldn't muster much success, despite making Crosby the 2nd overall pick. His team finished the day in 21st.
The Chicago Blackhawks were one of a few teams that got away with having some big rest days for their stars, as they added forward Jonathan Toews and defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to their list of players sitting out the last game against the Blue Jackets. There wasn't much left in their season, except for making it through with their legs healthy, so the Blackhawks attended to that and got some much needed rest to some players who deserved it the most.
Toews belonged to John R. this season, who has a chance of finishing in the top 20 this season, while Hjalmarsson belonged to Dale C., who moved up to 10th. The most important part of this byte is that they are both slated for the Playoff Pool and they will both be ready to go, when the schedule starts.
The official word from the Minnesota Wild camp is that forward Zach Parise is a little bit banged up, but with their position in the wild card wasn't going to change any, whatever the result on Saturday against the Flames, so he sat to save himself for the start of the playoffs. Whatever it is, it doesn't sound too serious, so if you have the inkling that the Wild are somehow going to be sleeper picks in the opening round of the playoffs, feel free to have a second look at Parise.
Of course, this injury news didn't help Benson on the last day of the year, who really didn't need another body down for the day, as his team suffered through the day, as the leader for the Basement Dweller nod this week. Nevertheless, Parise is situated in Box 2 this year of the Playoff Pool sheet, which could make him into an interesting pick this season.
The Nashville Predators are truly believing in themselves this season and their all-or-nothing approach to the last game was certainly apparent, as they dressed pretty much nothing to make sure they had it all for game one. Starting goalie, Pekka Rinne, top defenders Shea Weber and Roman Josi and pool forward Mike Ribeiro were among those in the press box for their game against the Stars and now they await the last games of the year to see who they will face in the opening round of the playoffs.
There was no real money disappointment in the draft in this byte, as Ryan, Stacey M., Scott and Tony were not in the mix for the big prizes this week, so there is no worry there. All four of these guys are primed and ready to go for the playoffs and they're all on the sheet, ready for your approval.
The Rangers were not 100% set on their playoff position at the start of the day on Saturday, but that wasn't going to stop the team from making a move or two, to help save their legs for the start of the playoffs. Forward Mats Zuccarello was held out of the game against the Red Wings, one they managed to pull a win out of, due to a lower-body injury. He is expected to be ready to go, when the playoffs kick off next week.
In the game against the Red Wings, the Rangers held their breath a little, when forward Eric Staal was forced from the game with an upper-body injury. Staal had an open-ice collision with a teammate and managed to get off the ice under his own power, but the team held him out for the rest of the game, for precautionary reasons, and said that he would be okay to start the playoffs.
These injuries had no impact in the draft, as Stacey M. has Zuccarello, finishing in 26th, while John R. had Staal this year, and his team managed to see 20th spot this year, after spending some time in last place.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are not doing very well, as they head for another playoff run this Spring. Injuries are mounting and the odds are stacking up against them. Going into their final game against the Canadiens, they knew they'd be without Nikita Kucherov, among others, for maintenance issues, so he'll be day-to-day heading into the playoffs. During their game against the Habs, they lost the services of Tyler Johnson, who left the game with an apparent upper-body injury after taking an ugly check from Greg Pateryn. Johnson's status will be evaluated in the days leading up to the playoffs, but the Lightning are quickly becoming less and less of a team to look towards this year, as they head into a playoff rematch against Detroit.
Kucherov's absence was not helping Ryan's long shot chances at making 3rd place in the standings, but his team is still in career-high territory, as his team finished the night in 5th place, with an outside shot at 4th place, tops. Neil is also in career-high territory, as his team finished the night in 8th place, despite the injury last night. Keep an eye out on the blog to check and see how these two stack up for the playoffs.
The Arizona Coyotes were without 24-year old keeper Louis Domingue for the last couple of games this season, due to some personal reasons, which likely caused him to drop a start in the last two games, since they were somewhat meaningless in the standings. Domingue made a name for himself and will be one to watch next season, as he won 15 games this year, finished with 35 points in total.
For Benson, I would assume there was a missed start in there, which left him holding the bag on potentially finishing as the season's last Basement Dweller of the year. His team has a couple of projected games left on Sunday and trails Dale B. by a point and Wes by 2 points.
The Boston Bruins needed a win on Saturday to have any sort of chance of making the playoffs, but the whole team was seemingly deflated when it was announced that their number one goalie, Tuukka Rask, was going to be a late scratch, due to illness, leaving the net to Jonas Gustavsson. The Bruins didn't play their hearts for the number two guy and they dropped a 6-1 loss to the Senators and their season ended.
For Dale C., this was a missed start and the result could have been a little bit different, if things went to plan for the Bruins on Saturday, but that's all just speculation now. Even without Rask, however, Dale's team did get up to 10th place, but isn't 100% safe there quite yet.
It looks like the Buffalo Sabres were not done with the audition process, even on the last day of the year, as they called up goalie Linus Ullmark to take their last start against the Islanders, which made Chad Johnson into a scratch for the last game of the year. The Sabres were not going very far in the standings, up or down, and they are a team thinking largely about moving forward, so they gave another guy one more look this year.
Unfortunately for Johnson, it wasn't a final start and unfortunately for John P., his pool team was left without that extra chance to make some noise in the race for 3rd place this year. John's team fell down to 7th on Saturday and only has one more projected game to play, which will only likely bring him up to 6th, if it moves at all.
The Calgary Flames did their best to rotate the goalie situation in the last few weeks of the season as well and on Saturday, against the Minnesota Wild, Niklas Backstrom got the call and Jonas Hiller was the odd-man out, moving up to the press box as the healthy scratch for the last game of the year. This, I wouldn't consider to be a lost start, but the end of a pretty disappointing season for the Swiss number one/two/three guy.
Also, in the last game of the year, Sean Monahan was forced from that game with an upper-body injury, ending his season, just slightly prematurely. Of course, there are no implications to their playoff run, but Monahan's availability for the World Championships is in the air.
For Grant, his season officially ended on Saturday and his season unofficially ends with 512 points, with the tiebreak in his favour for 22nd place, but Troy still has a few projected games to play to make that last move, if possible. Grant had both Hiller and Monahan this season.
San Jose defenseman Paul Martin should be good to go for the playoffs, after being a healthy scratch for the Sharks' last game against the Coyotes, saving himself for the start of their series against either the Ducks or Sharks. Martin had a decent year in San Jose, scoring 3 goals and 20 points in 78 games.
Martin wasn't taken in the draft, so this is a note for the playoffs, where Martin is in Box 11 of the sheet this year. The Sharks don't know who their opening round opponent is yet, but if you think they're strong enough, Martin could be a late box defenseman for your team.
The rotation on the blueline continued on to Game #81 for the Washington Capitals, as Nate Schmidt came out again, as a healthy scratch. Schmidt is currently day-to-day, with the possibility of drawing back in for Game #82 against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday evening. If the pattern stays true, it means that Schmidt should draw back in.
Fortunately for Brian, this didn't have much of an impact on his 3rd place standing, as his team kept a 14-point gap through Saturday's action and there is no chance that the teams below his will come up to bite him in the rear end. Schmidt isn't included on the playoff sheet, so he won't figure much on the blog this Spring.
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