Monday, October 31, 2016

Week Three Newsletter

It's a very spoooooooky edition of the Newsletter this week... and that's about as scary as it gets.  Frankly, it was far scarier last week, when we had two Greenleys at the top of the standings and there was nothing that we could do about it... but just wait.  The Hockey Gods fixed that problem for us and now we just have one to worry about still.  Scary, but not worst-case scenario scary.

It has been two and a half years since we had a 12-point player in the hockey pool, as the last time we saw one was Week Seventeen of the 2014 season, when Kari Lehtonen had his second week of that nature in his hockey pool career, but that was when Dale B. cashed in big.  Before this week, since the 2007 season, there was only nine times that we have had a 12-point player and now Devan Dubnyk is the 10th.

Dubnyk went 3-0-0 in the week for the Minnesota Wild, all three games were shutouts, hence the 12-point total in the week.  The Wild keeper blanked the Bruins, Sabres and Stars in the week, not relinquishing the net to his counterpart in the process.

The 12 points now gives Dubnyk 16 on the season, which now has him ranked 2nd in pool scoring, so far this season, which is big news for John and you will be able to see why in the next section.

Yeah, you can't have a Player of the Week that good without having a team around him to earn the Mover & Shaker nod in the week as well.  John finished the week with 36 points and his team moved up to 3rd place in the process.  That's not too bad for a guy who was "too busy" with Thanksgiving festivities to actually show up to the bar for the draft... but I digress!

Also contributing to the big week for our Mover & Shaker were Claude Giroux of the Flyers, who finished with 6 points, Ryan Suter of the Wild with 5 points and Taylor Hall of the Devils with 4 points.  Remarkably, John finished as the Mover & Shaker with five players on his roster that didn't pick up any points.

You have to love the early part of the season, especially when the Mover & Shaker can move up the standings so easily.  John started off Week Three in 19th place, after a slow start to the season, but a huge week from all but five of his players really gave him a big boost to 3rd place.  Now, his team has to stay hot to stay up near the top.

John's team also led the pool in the week in the goals department, finishing with 13 and that moved him into a 3-way tie for 4th place in the standings with 24.  His team trails Scott's by a hat-trick after this week.  His team is also tied for 6th in wins with 6, thanks to Dubnyk, 3 wins back of Cam for the lead in that department as well.

This is John's second time in his pool career, where he finished a week as the Mover & Shaker, the first time coming last season, back in Week Two, where he also finished in 3rd in the standings.  It didn't do his team much good last season, finishing 17th overall, but this year will be different, right?  Right?

Three teams finished at the bottom of the weekly standing, all vying for the Basement Dweller position, down with 16 points.  The first tie-breaker is goals scored and there were far more goals scored by the three teams than I expected, as Eric finished with 8 markers, Troy had 7 goals and Clayton, our Basement Dweller for Week Three, had 6 tallies.

Clayton's team was led by Eric Staal of the Wild and James Van Riemsdyk in Toronto, each picking up 3 points, but there were far too many zeroes, to the tune of six, which didn't help his cause at all.

His team was a combined -9 in the plus/minus rating in Week Three, which was ranked 24th in the pool, which says that they were pulling more pucks out of their own nets than putting them in.  But with the pool's best skater games total and shots for total, it shouldn't be long before Clayton's team gets a little bit of traction and has a huge gain like John's team.  Starting from 17th place now isn't nearly as bad, but it is a increasingly large hill to climb.

The final numbers are almost ready to be announced, but I can confirm, we will be paying the first three in the standings, plus the mini-games and that announcement will either come later on Monday or on Tuesday.  That's just how close we are.

Benson continues to lead after three weeks and his team was able to open a 10-point lead, Scott and his band of rookies are currently sitting in 2nd place and then there are three teams tied at 72 points, but John gets the nod, due to tie-breakers, followed by Dale B. and Marcie.  It's a 10-point difference between 1st and 2nd, but 2nd down to 13th is also 10 points, so a hot week can do teams a lot of good right away.

Our goon team of the week belongs to Cam, one of our favourites for the overall title after the draft had occurred.  Cam's team finished atop the PIM totals in Week Three, thanks to a 30-minute week, his most prolific week in the penalty box.

His big week moved him into 2nd overall in the mini-game, but Marcie's team didn't really let up, finishing with 28 minutes of their own and they now have 98 PIM and a 32-minute lead after Week Three.  If her team wasn't also in the mix for the big money at this point, I'd say she would have a team that could go all the way, but the Waiver Draft will likely see to that.

Three teams fell in the survivor pool in Week Three, as Clayton, Kristy & Don and Scott all couldn't muster up any wins and that drops are participation down to 13 teams already, just about halfway through the standings already.  Coincidentally, after Week Three in last year's survivor pool, we were also down to 13 of 27 teams in it, so we're just about on pace.  Last season, we lost three more teams in Week Four, so are there three teams ready to take the plunge this week?


Well, the honeymoon is starting to end for the hockey pool, as it normally does.  Injuries and scratches start to happen, the number of games collected marginally shrink and the points and penalty minutes go with it.  Week Three saw a decrease in scoring by a point-per-game on the NHL schedule, down from 12.3 to 11.3, which doesn't seem like much, but the more points we get, the more competitive it would be.

The penalty minutes really took a kicking though, down from 11.1 minutes in Week Two to 7.5 minutes in Week Three... where did all the goons go?

It's a 49-game week this week and here's hoping we have a few more of those rivalry games to get the blood boiling.  There was a little too much fraternizing between the players this week... we need that hate!


The Detroit Red Wings offered up an update on forward Thomas Vanek before their game against the Florida Panthers on Sunday and it wasn't pleasant. Vanek and his groin injury has been downgraded from day-to-day to week-to-week and with the Wings' cap issues this year, they would need some LTIR help to make any recalls.

Vanek has been one of the better players for Kristy & Don this year and not having him for the next week is certainly going to hurt.  They open Week Four in 15th place, now 21 off the pace of 1st place.

On Sunday, the Jets decided to scratch defenseman Tyler Myers for a lower-body injury, which was suffered earlier in the week.  Myers has 2 goals in his first eight games this season, plus 6 PIM to start, which isn't exactly great numbers, but he's still an asset in the lineup.  His departure was felt, as they dropped the game against the Sabres on Sunday, 3-1, defense being a big hole again for them.

Ryan still had a decent Week Three, despite not having the towering defender in the last game of the week, as his team finished with 26 points in the week, moving up to 12th from 15th the week before.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Goalie Announcements (Oct 30)

We're surely to have a good number of eliminations this week and most of those will be touched upon in tomorrow's Newsletter, so I won't harp on it too much here in this afternoon's blog post.  Nevertheless, we should still have some opportunities for teams that need to qualify, to do so.  Let's see what we've got to finish the week.

The Buffalo Sabres are finally ready to give Robin Lehner the crease again, as the Swede is finally over an ugly illness this week and he will suit up against the Winnipeg Jets, if all goes well, giving Jeremy his first of two shots at moving on in the survivor pool on Sunday.  The Jets won't roll over today and they send Connor Hellebuyck out for the game, giving Tony a late start in the week, as his team tries to improve on a slow start to the season.

Scott is one of those teams desperate for a win in this week's survivor pool, come Sunday, but his remaining possibility, Chicago's Scott Darling, won't be getting the start for the Blackhawks, rather it will be Marcin's Corey Crawford getting the nod against the Kings, who have a decision to make... will it be Peter Budaj on back-to-back nights or summer pick-up Jack Campbell? Either way, no pool starts from the visitors again tonight.

Stacey M. does indeed get a start from her back-up goalie on Sunday, as Antti Raanta has been given the nod for the blueshirts tonight, as the New York Rangers will play host to the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight.  At the other end of the rink, it is expected that Ben Bishop will get the call for the Bolts, Bishop will give one more start to Dale C. this week, who is trying to stay out of the basement, early on this season.

The Washington Capitals, on back-to-back nights, opted not to play Braden Holtby in Vancouver last night, rather they saved him for Calgary on Sunday night and he'll certainly get the start against the Flames. Jeremy will get one last kick at the can with this start, but Holtby will be running into a hot Brian Elliott, who belongs to Derek B. in the pool this year.  The Flames didn't play on Saturday, so they'll be nice and rested for the reigning President's Trophy holder.

We're expecting Michal Neuvirth against Cam Ward in Carolina this afternoon in one of the early games.  Neuvirth is the 4th round pick of Tony's this season, facing Ward, a 5th round pick of Brian's... this could be a very good game, as both teams are putting goals in the net, but wins aren't always the case.

Two teams working on back-to-back days sees the Panthers and Red Wings go on Sunday and that should mean a couple of goalies that didn't play last night in James Reimer against Petr Mrazek.  In the pool, this is Eric versus Stacey C., an 8th round pick versus a 2nd round pick today, if that helps give you an idea of a possible advantage.

We know the Toronto Maple Leafs will be going with Jhonas Enroth tonight on back-to-back nights, but the goaltending situation in Brooklyn has gotten muddy with the news that Jaroslav Halak is now on the trade market, thanks in part to his agent publicly criticizing the 3-goalie system they have in place.  I wonder who else said that... hmmmmm!  No one has Enroth, but there is plenty of interest in the Islanders net, we'll see who they go with.

The Ottawa Senators are also in a pickle of a goaltending situation, but they should have Craig Anderson back with the boys, but whether or not he is ready to go will be another story, given the tough week he has had, personally.  On the Oilers' side, Cam Talbot has been given the nod, which Marcie will approve of, as her team is in the thick of the mix at the top of the table.

Wild Without Parise

The Minnesota Wild have opted to shut down forward Zach Parise for an extended period of time, as they have listed the pivotal forward as week-to-week with a lower-body injury, believed to be a foot injury after blocking a shot earlier on in the week.

There hasn't been anything official from the Wild to say that he has been placed on the Injured Reserve, but one would imagine that they will want that roster spot for flexibility over the next week or two, maybe more.  A broken foot, if that's what it is, could be upwards of four weeks, but Parise will undoubtedly try to be back sooner.

After Saturday night's action, Parise is ranked 103rd in pool scoring, having 2 goals and 6 points in eight games worth of action.  The Wild have been able to find scoring elsewhere, early on this season, so they haven't struggled quite yet and a 4-0 win against Dallas last night was a good sign of that.

For Stuart though, he has been getting good value from Parise in the pool, as he took him with the 131st pick in the 6th round and his ranking is a round better than that.  Parise is also tied for 4th in scoring in the 6th round, showing that there were some pretty good picks in that round.

It has been a tough week for Stuart's team, dropping down to 7th, but is still within striking distance of 2nd place, only 2 points out.  He'd need 3 points for the spot, however, he doesn't have the tie-breaker in the goals department and only 2 goals wouldn't help his cause either.

Morning Player Notes in the Draft (Oct 30)

The Dallas Stars haven't exactly been dominating, like they had been to start the 2016 season, and one of the players in need of a boost was defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who was given the night off as a scratch on Saturday night against the Minnesota Wild.  It didn't really help, however, with the Stars losing the game, 4-0, and have now dropped down to 3-4-1 in the Central, out of even a wild card spot at the moment.

The loss of Hamhuis on Saturday night didn't hurt John's team at all, as his team is still atop the Mover & Shaker standings for the week and his team finished Saturday night in 5th place, 1 point out of 2nd place.  John's team is definitely having himself a week.

Rookie defenseman Michael Matheson was reportedly given the night off from a busy schedule, as he gets his legs underneath him.  The Panthers are in pretty much the same boat as the Stars above, expected to be a bit better, but they're seeming on waiting on everyone to get on the same page.  Matheson has been decent to start the year, 2 goals and 4 points in his first seven games, ranking 204th overall in scoring.

Matheson was Brian's 13th round pick this season and he has been paying off pretty well early on, tied for 5th in the scoring for that round at 4 points.  He's already looking like a good bargain pick and he'll need to keep it up, if Brian's 15th place team is to improve right away.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Goalie Announcements (Oct 29)

An 11am MT start to a hockey game today has really pressed up the starting goalie nod post, most of which will likely be unconfirmed, just educated, yet often questionable, guesses.

Let's not forget about last night as well, as Mike's team was the 9th to qualify for Week Four, still leaving up seven teams looking for wins, either today or tomorrow.  It already appears that Kristy & Don have been eliminated, barring a miracle of injury proportions in Colorado, as their last possible start will go to the back-up tonight.  We'll have to check on the other six teams and that's what we'll hopefully do before the clock ticks over to game time.

The early game, which is forcing the hand of this post, does have some value in the survivor pool, as the Sabres will send Anders Nilsson to the crease today, giving Ryan his first chance of the day for a win and a move onto next week. He will get the tough task of playing Roberto Luongo and the Florida Panthers, who have been winning plenty of games for Cam to start the season.  It won't be easy, but it isn't impossible either.

Ryan's second chance will be one of the early evening games, a 5pm MT start, with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the swamp to take on the New Jersey Devils. Ryan's other goalie, Andrei Vasilevskiy, has been given the green light for the Bolts to play tonight, taking on Stuart's number one goalie, Cory Schneider. Another very difficult game, so a win in either one, should be very satisfying.

In the first late game, it could very well be a head-to-head battle for a spot in Week Four, although it is still unconfirmed this early in the day, but it could be Braden Holtby versus Jacob Markstrom tonight, when the Washington Capitals take on the Vancouver Canucks in the 8pm MT Hockey Night In Canada broadcast. This will be a fight between Jeremy and Clayton for the spot, with the visitors taking the favourite designation, as they are rocking the best goalie in the hockey pool over the last couple of years.

In the late, late game, the last game of the night, the Nashville Predators are in San Jose to take on the Sharks and Stacey M. will likely, yet unconfirmed, have Pekka Rinne in for the visitors, taking on the confirmed starter for the Sharks, Martin Jones.  This is likely Stacey's last chance at a win this week, as the Rangers will play tomorrow, but they are not on back-to-back nights, which means her back-up will be doing his regular job.  Jones will go for Wes tonight, who is still looking to get some traction in the standings.

Looks like there is a chance that Tuukka Rask can play tonight, as the Bruins visit the Red Wings. Rask would be a great help to Troy, if he could play and play well, but Jimmy Howard has played well for the Wings and he's the confirmed starter at home, giving our pool leader, Benson, a good shot at another win.

It will be Frederik Andersen against Carey Price in Montreal tonight, the headlining game on Hockey Night in Canada at 5pm MT. Brian hasn't had much luck with Andersen yet, while Benson gets a second start tonight, thanks to Price, as his team's stock continues to climb.

Cam's team versus Brenda & Seward's team in the Battle of Pennsylvania tonight... Marc-Andre Fleury is scheduled to go again for the Penguins, riding a hot streak, and he'll likely face Steve Mason at the other side, as the state rivals renew acquaintances.  Brenda & Seward really need a win or it's to the basement with them this week.

An unconfirmed match-up, from both sides, but very likely we'd assume, as Kari Lehtonen should get the call for the Dallas Stars, taking on Devan Dubnyk of the Minnesota Wild tonight.  Lehtonen won his last start, which is usually good for the call in the next game, giving Dale C. a start, while Dubnyk will continue to roll on John's team, which is vying for Mover & Shaker this week.

Considering how early it is, this is the last of the fully unconfirmed games for tonight and it is between the Kings and the Blues in St. Louis.  Peter Budaj has been rolling for the Kings, which is a shock to most, as he started the year as the number three guy and unaccounted for in the pool, while Jake Allen should get the nod tonight, helping to pad Mike's numbers for the week.

We know that Calvin Pickard will be given the nod tonight for the Colorado Avalanche, giving Derek B. a rare start from the Avalanche tonight and keeping the start away from Kristy & Don. At the other side, it should Louis Domingue, who will offer Wes up a second start on the night, trying to fight his way out from below.