Monday, December 10, 2018
It's a brand new week, the zeroes are all up on the board and now we see all of our teams battle for that coveted spot in the Mover & Shaker again this week.
Of course, that conversation begins and ends with the goaltending on this blog, for whatever reason. It has somewhat usurped that conversation, since the goalie survivor pool isn't paying out this year and is only a sidebar conversation.
Movers and shakers! That's where the pride is!
Casey DeSmith (Benson) versus Robin Lehner (Chelsea)
Benson has had one Mover & Shaker already this season, but Chelsea has not and now's as good a time to get one. Both teams can use some mid-season magic to put a little hop in their steps in the hockey pool. Benson's team is only 16 points up on Chelsea's in the bottom of the standings, maybe for bragging rights alone, this could be somewhat of a big game. DeSmith versus Lehner, both goalies confirmed nice and early this morning.
Jonathan Quick (Derek B.) versus Jimmy Howard (Tony)
The lowly Kings are into Detroit to take on the Red Wings tonight, who are not necessarily all that much better and that means that the 2 points for our goalies are anyone's to grab. Okay, they're either Derek or Tony's, according to tonight's starters. Quick goes for Derek, Howard for Tony and both are mired down in the bottom half of the standings, much like the two NHL teams being represented tonight. If either of these teams can get to the Mover & Shaker this week, they'd be the lowest team to do so this season.
Henrik Lundqvist (Scott) versus Louis Domingue (Eric)
This was actually the last game I put together and the Rangers were not confirmed, but either way, confirmed or not, all four games tonight feature hockey pool teams in the bottom half of the hockey pool standings, as Eric's team is confirmed to have Louis Domingue for the Lightning and if the Rangers have Henrik Lundqvist start, Scott will get a start too. If the Rangers go elsewhere, it's a non-pool start. Eric's team sits 21st, 23 points up on Scott's... so is there anything really to play for down at the bottom?
Keith Kinkaid (Neil) versus Martin Jones (Brenda & Seward)
Cory Schneider got the call for the Devils last night, losing in the shootout to the Anaheim Ducks, so Keith Kinkaid gets the nod for the Devils tonight, when they dive into the Shark tank tonight. Neil has already had a Mover & Shaker nod this season and I'm sure he's hungry for more, since his team got off to a pretty good start to the year, but has fallen off recently. A mover nod could be the spark his team needs to get back into it. Last week's dwelling duo get a chance to have their new week get off on the right foot with Martin Jones and the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks have been better of late and they might actually be worth the points that some of us have picked them for.
The Florida Panthers announced that forward Nick Bjugstad will not be on the team's current road trip, which starts tomorrow night in St. Louis, but it's only a 2-game trip, which sees them return on Saturday, when they host the Maple Leafs. Bjugstad is dealing with an upper-body injury, which he suffered last week. He managed to play a game in the middle of the week after the injury, but didn't play over the weekend and has now been ruled out for a couple more games. They'll likely reevaluate him on their return.
The bad news continues to roll in for Brian's team, which hasn't had much luck of late. His 10th place team is hoping that the healthy bodies that it does have can at least hold the fort for a little while and keep his team competitive. This could be a tough stretch.
The Los Angeles Kings are also hitting the road this week, starting tonight Detroit, tomorrow in Buffalo, Thursday in Columbus, Saturday in Pittsburgh and back home next week. It sounds like defenseman Alec Martinez will not be on this trip either, citing an upper-body injury, not concussion related, and the team has recalled Sean Walker to take his place, unsure if Martinez will be placed on the IR or not, but seems likely for the roster spot. The Kings are in a tough spot in the standings and a road trip without one of your minute-eating defenders will be tough.
Wilton has seen 11 points out of 30 games from Martinez this season, which is somewhat underwhelming, just like the rest of his blueline, which ranks tied for 20th in scoring in the pool with 41 points. Wilton's team has been climbing after an ice-cold five weeks, which saw his team drop down to 22nd, but now sits 13th. This isn't a catastrophic injury, but it doesn't help.
The news on Arizona Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta deteriorated last week and really hit rock bottom on Sunday, when the team announced that after undergoing a surgical procedure on his lower-body injury, they determined that the damage suffered down there was much worse than initially reported and now there is a real fear that he could miss the rest of the regular season.
Raanta appeared in 12 games for the Coyotes and posted 5 wins and 11 points in those games, really keeping his team competitive in most of those games. The injury situation in Arizona hasn't been great, as the team is now running with no pool goalies active on their roster and it has really shown in the standings, as they are 3-7-0 in their last 10 games.
This news is a week too late for Brian's hockey pool team and that's very unfortunate. Raanta, if he was to return, would be the number one guy for the Coyotes and would get the bulk of the starts, but now that there is an expectation that he won't be back this season, certainly not within the second segment of the season, Brian's team is now eight more weeks without him, before he can make the switch in the Week Eighteen Waiver Draft.
Brian's team still ranks 10th in the hockey pool in the overall standings and has made some gains over the last month, where his team finished Week Eight in 15th place and is now up to 10th. His team is 13th in forward points and tied for 13th in defense points and still has the reigning Player of the Week in Mike Smith in net. It's not all bad, but it's not ideal.
The Week Twenty-One Newsletter last season was the last time we had seen a goaltender occupy the Mover & Shaker position, which means there were 15 weeks between then and now, since Mike Smith of the Calgary Flames has earned this week's nod, as the only player to hit the 9-point mark in Week Ten, no tie-breakers necessary for this decision.
The 36-year old netminder took back the Flames' net and went 3-0-0 in the week, posting a shutout and also registering an assist in this week to give him the odd number of points. Smith came on in relief on Tuesday against the Blue Jackets and stood in there for the comeback and he also posted his assist in that offensive outburst; then he started Thursday night against Minnesota, making 31 saves for his shutout and then finally, a 25-save effort against Nashville on Saturday capped off his week and rounded out his weekly total.
This now brings Smith's totals up to 11 wins and 27 points in 19 appearances this season, having split the crease time with teammate David Rittich this year, and those numbers now have him ranked 61st in hockey pool scoring, a high 3rd round pick, if we were to do it all over again.
For Brian's pool team, Smith was a big difference between being safe in the weekly scoring standings or being in the conversation for the Basement Dweller, as the rest of his team only posted 16 points and that would have been awfully close, if he didn't have Smith rolling. Brian's team is still hanging tight though, holding down 10th place and he can thank his Calgary netminder for that help.
The first week after getting our new players activated from the Waiver Draft is usually pretty exciting, but this week was exceptional for its excitement, especially for the Mover & Shaker nod, since it came right down to the wire with points in the final few games of the night on Sunday. Nine teams hit 30+ points in the week and there was plenty of jockeying up at the top of the standings, but the last team standing, all alone up at the top, belonged to Stacey M. with 37 points.
Only one player failed to pick up points or Stacey's team and that was injury-related this week, so for the most part, it was a very well-rounded effort from her team in Week Ten. Carey Price of the Canadiens led the way with 6 points, followed by David Pastrnak of the Bruins with 5 points and Reilly Smith of the Golden Knights with 4 points. There were four players with 3 points each and quite a few 2-point players, almost to the point where I have to name her entire team, they did so well.
The big week also broke the threshold of 3rd place, where her team had finished the last four weeks, finishing this week in 2nd place, among a bigger group of teams, only separated by a few points and I will have more about that in the Trophy Talk below. There's no sense in repeating myself.
It's been a while since Stacey had herself a Mover & Shaker week, the last one coming in Week Twenty-Four of the 2014 season, almost a full four years ago, since she saw her cream rise to the top. In that season, her team finished in 4th place out of 24 teams, so it's definitely a good sign for her to be up in the conversation here. This is also only her 4th Mover & Shaker nod of all-time, but it looks like she has the team to get at least another one this year.
The Waiver Draft didn't do enough for Brenda & Seward's team in Week Nine, as they had too many players sitting for different reasons, other than injuries and their hands were tied for the most part. On the plus side, they did get William Nylander back from his contract dispute, nine weeks too late, and he still needs some time to get readjusted to the speed of the NHL and it didn't help that one of their picks was hurt in the early part of the week, so Jason Pominville wasn't much help this week either.
So, the duo finished with only 14 points in Week Ten and the gap between their side and 24th place, belonging to Scott, has now widened to 12 points and the hope of making that miraculous comeback is slowly fading away. Their team now sits 105 points back of 1st place and that is just going to be too many to overcome.
The luck was not with them at the participation level, between players injured, unsigned or sent back to their junior team, the duo have only seen 246 skater games this season, 41 back of Scott's team in 24th and 103 back of Wilton, who leads the pool after 10 weeks. Goaltending has been better for participation, ranking 10th in minutes, but their goalies have a combined save percentage of .897, 24th in the pool, which has only translated to 30 points, tied for 15th, so far.
Now, to the exciting bits! Stuart claimed top spot after Week Ten, but this is far from comfortable. 6 points is all that separates Stuart's top team from 5th place, meaning that there would be two very disappointed teams, if the season were to have ended today. So close, yet so far.
Stacey M. sits 2nd after her Mover & Shaker week, 1 point back, Troy drops down to 3rd place, 2 points back and then Kristy & Don and Grant are both 6 points back, all of these teams having huge weeks to start the new segment. If there is going to be a group of teams running away with the pool, that is exciting all on its own.
Let's not forget, there are still hot streaks to be had by a number of teams, so it's hard to count anyone in the top half out, even Jeremy and Wilton, both teams are 40 points out of 3rd place, standing on the equator of the table.
Having one amazing rookie is seemingly enough to run away with this pool, but there will be some challenges along the line, I'm sure. Clayton's main rookie, Elias Pettersson of the Canucks, picked up 8 points on his own last week and helped Clayton's team to extend his lead in this mini-game to 22 points. That's half of what his team has at the moment, 44 points.
John P. and Derek B. still hold a number of rookies that could climb the list, if the unforeseen were to happen and there's still the better part of two-thirds of the season left to play.
Week Ten tied the season-high in shootout goals in a week with 10 goals, but no team that picked up a goal, picked up more than a single tally, so there wasn't a lot of movement in the mini-game standings.
Mike leads the mini-game with 6 tallies, his team is 6-for-13 this season, also leading the pool in shot attempts, so his team could be tough to beat. Jeremy, Grant and Brian all have 5 tallies, chasing down Mike's team after ten weeks.
Mike's team was awfully hot in the mini-games this week, leading the game-winning goals pool with 4 clutch tallies in the week, but his team still ranks 7th in the mini-game with 14 tallies, so far this season.
Stuart's team continues to lead the overall standings here, standing with 19 clutch goals this season, 2 ahead of Clayton's team and 4 goals ahead of four more teams.
Derek B.'s team put up a top five week in the penalty minute department with 36 minutes in Week Ten, taking the goon team of the week nod. A couple of suspended players helped his cause this week, the sort of help that his team really didn't need, but his team is now concentrating on the rookie pool, so if the veterans want to sit in the box, I don't think he'll care so much.
Stuart's team also leads the PIM pool, which is crazy! If his team is sitting in the box so much, how could they be leading the pool in the overall standings and in the game-winners? It's nuts.
All four teams that are still alive in the goalie survivor game all qualified for Week Eleven on Tuesday night and there wasn't a whole lot to talk about here.
Troy and Stacey M. each posted 4 wins in the week, while Jeremy had 2 wins and Wes got only that win on Tuesday, which is enough, and there are your four teams looking for more. There's 51 games this coming week, so there will be plenty of opportunities for wins.
The Waiver Draft did some good in the crease for the hockey pool, as the numbers from this week showed, we hit a season-high on minutes played with 5,095 minutes in 48 NHL games, not the best average of the season, but the highest total. Injuries to skaters didn't help this week, as the count of games played and the average were only marginally better.
With all of that being said, we only collected 669 points, tied for 2nd for best collective weeks, but we should see these points ramp up with 51 NHL games next week.
NEWS AND NOTES
The St. Louis Blues are struggling. 3-6-1 in their last 10 and the coaching staff tried to address that ahead of their game against the Canucks by scratching David Perron, but that didn't really seem to help, as they dropped a 6-1 decision on Sunday. Perron was the odd-man out though, which his 16 points in 27 games may have warranted the scratch, since the expectations of him, not to mention the rest of his teammates, are much, much higher. It will be interesting to see how they adjust to get back into a winning form.
This didn't help Steve's week at all, which finished at only 20 points and his team dropped from 8th to 11th in the week. Steve should be hoping that this scratch gives Perron a kick in the butt and get his scoring ways, so he can climb back into the top 10 and into the money conversation again.
Sunday, December 09, 2018
The NHL's Department of Player Safety found another interference call to rule on this weekend, as Zach Hyman of the Toronto Maple Leafs made an ill-advised decision to hit Boston defenseman Charlie McAvoy both late and high and it has now cost him a couple of games. Hyman was ejected for the game after this hit and the league ruled that a couple more games was in order, so he'll sit for games against the Hurricanes on Tuesday and the Lightning on Thursday.
Hyman has been a productive member of the Leafs this season, posting 7 goals and 15 points in 30 games, ranking in the top 200 in scoring. After the game against the Bruins, he brought his penalty minute total up to 36 minutes this season, which is good enough to be tied for 17th in the league.
More tough luck for Derek B.'s team, which should come away with goon team of the week honours in tomorrow morning's Newsletter, but it will struggle to improve upon its 23rd place ranking next week without Hyman in the lineup. This is Derek's second suspension this week, already having Mark Giordano of the Flames missing a couple games this weekend. Could the number of games missed due to suspension become a mini-game in year upcoming?
It's Sunday, the last day of the week, Week Ten is coming to a close!
Grant's team had a big Saturday and took the lead in the Mover & Shaker race, up to 32 points and still keeping pace with the big teams in the money, but his team is not alone up at the top. Troy, Stacey M., Kristy & Don and Wilton are all sitting at 30 points, a win away from equaling Grant's team, while Ryan's team is up at 29 points and Benson's team is at 28 points. With seven games to play today, the races are on and they're going to be tight.
The duo down at the bottom, Brenda & Seward, they didn't have much of a good day on Saturday and they fell behind a bit further to the other teams they're chasing to get out of the basement, but they start 4 points back of Scott's team (15-11) and 5 points back of Derek B.'s team and they might not get much help from the crease today.
Jacob Markstrom (Chelsea) versus Jake Allen (Steve)
Both Chelsea and Steve are closer to the bottom of the weekly ranks, sitting at 18 and 17 points, respectively, but one of these teams should come away with 2 points and work their way out of trouble for this week. The early game between the Canucks and the Blues should be a good one, where those 2 points up for grabs are anyone's game.
Michal Neuvirth (Stuart) versus Connor Hellebuyck (Jeremy)
Stuart should likely get his first start from Michal Neuvirth after picking up the Flyers goalie in the Waiver Draft, but it will be a tough test against Connor Hellebuyck and the Jets today. Stuart's team needs a win to keep pace with Troy's team up at the top of the standings, while Jeremy's team also sits at 16 points this week and has an outside chance at landing in the Basement Dweller, if nothing goes right today.
Tuukka Rask (Jesse) versus Mike McKenna (N/A)
Nothing confirmed this early in the morning for the Boston/Ottawa game, but since both teams played last night, it seems very likely that the two goalies today will be the two goalies that didn't get starts last night. Both the Bruins and the Senators are banged up teams, so this game could go either way as well, which makes it an interesting one to watch tonight.
Carey Price (Stacey M.) versus Corey Crawford (Benson)
Nothing confirmed here either, but on the face of the match-up between the Canadiens and the Blackhawks, this game could be a good one for the Mover & Shaker race too. Both Stacey and Benson are in the race, both very close to earning the honour, but they will need help from their goalies, assuming they play tonight.
Keith Kinkaid (Neil) versus John Gibson (Kristy & Don)
Nothing in stone for the Devils and Ducks in Anaheim tonight. The duo of Kristy & Don are hoping for a start here to help guide their team to the top of the weekly standings, assuming the Ducks, 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, can put a W up against the last team int he Eastern Conference. They shouldn't be counting their chickens before they hatch, but...
Ben Bishop (Clayton) versus Malcolm Subban (N/A)
The Golden Knights coaching staff were very guarded as to who they would start this morning, saying we won't find out until warm-ups, as to who will go, but they have to give Marc-Andre Fleury a rest soon, right? A loss yesterday in Los Angeles, only to return home to the Stars, isn't an easy task, but they really need to keep their number one from burning out.
David Rittich (Ryan) versus Mikko Koskinen (Tony)
We know that the Edmonton Oilers are going to go with Mikko Koskinen tonight against the Calgary Flames in the Battle of Alberta, that's for sure. Tony will get his second start from the Finnish netminder this week after picking him up in the Waiver Draft and his team could use the points to hit the 20-point mark for the week, which will help it keep some pace up. The Flames played last night too, so there's a shot that they go with David Rittich, who likely hasn't lost any confidence with the coaching staff, so it seems reasonable that he would go again.