Monday, March 25, 2019

Week Twenty-Five Newsletter





We kick off the Newsletter with a tie-breaking situation, where we had four players finish the week with 8 points, but two were goalies and it only really came down to two forwards, where Kyle Connor of the Jets took the title home, defeating Steven Stamkos of the Lightning by a 5-4 margin in the weekly goal total.  The two goalies in question, Connor Hellebuyck of the Jets and Carey Price of the Canadiens, but they certainly were not going to get any more than a single goal, if they were lucky.

The Jets forward played in four games and was very good in three of them, picking up a goal and an assist on Monday against the Kings, another goal and an assist against the Ducks on Wednesday, shutout against the Golden knights on Thursday, but had a hat-trick and an assist to swipe the title against the Predators on Saturday.

This brings the young forward's totals up to 32 goals and 61 points in 75 games this season in Winnipeg, which is now good enough for 69th in hockey pool scoring this season, well within a 3rd round, if we were to redo the draft at this point of the season.  It has been a very productive year for the sophomore.  Not too bad for Jeremy's team, which picked him in the 4th round, 98th overall, making him a very good bargain pick that high.

Well, what do you know?  Another tie-breaking situation in the Mover & Shaker race, as the top two teams were really doing a bit of both... moving and shaking in Week Twenty-Five.  It came down to Jeremy's team and Jesse's team in the week, both teams were jockeying back-and-forth, Monday to Sunday, but in the end, by a 13-9 margin in the goal scoring race, it was Jeremy's team which took the title, with 37 points.  It was nearly a 3 or 4-team tie-breaker, as there were a couple of teams within 2 points of the Mover & Shaker by the end of the weekend.

Nevertheless, Jeremy gets the sweep of the top spots in the Newsletter this week with a pretty big week.  It didn't do his team all that much good, as it was only 14 points better than the team ahead of him in 18th and is still 12 points back of Jon P.'s team.  It may be hogging on the headlines for nothing, especially since Jesse's team is really making a run at things of late, but that'll be more for the trophy race, I guess.

Jeremy did have two out of the four Player of the Week candidates, also rocking Connor Hellebuyck of the Jets, who finished with 8 points, helping to guide the way for his team to its 2nd Mover & Shaker of the season.  Alexander Edler of the Canucks also had a really good week for him, finishing with 6 points and this was all done with four players unable to register a point on his team, only one of which was due to injury.  That's a pretty incredible run, really.

Where did it all really go wrong for Jeremy's team this season?  Well, his forwards as a whole haven't been great, ranking 20th in the pool this season with 321 points, while his defensemen and goalies have been good, it has just been a let down up front and I think we've all concluded this year and after last season as well, that forwards are back to the way we should be picking in this pool.

At the start of play on Sunday, it was looking like the Basement Dweller was also going to be in need of a tie-breaker, but of the three, it didn't.  Brian's team took another week on the chin, finishing by itself with 12 points, unable to pick up anything on Sunday, where Steve's team, which was vying for the title as well, picked up that much-needed point to avoid the basement.

This is Brian's 2nd mention of the season in the Basement Dweller spot, taking the Week Fourteen mention as well.  His team has only dropped one spot in between those weeks, going from 16th to 17th, so it has been a pretty steady couple of months for his side, which just couldn't gain much for traction this year.

Mike Smith of the Flames was his top player in the week with 4 points, but only five players were unable to register a point in the week, so there were a lot of singles on his roster, which would be his eventual downfall this week.

Brian's forwards have been just okay this season, up with 423 points this season, but his team couldn't find the balance, with defense in 25th and goaltending tied for 18th.

We already know that Stuart has walked away with the top spot, but I think we can pretty well say that Stacey M. has now secured her spot in 2nd place after a very good week of 35 points, now opening the gap between 2nd and 3rd place to now 13 points.  It's not an impossible gap to overcome, but her team has been running fairly hot of late and Grant's team has just been okay.

Grant's position in 3rd, however, is still up for debate for some.  Kristy & Don made gains and now sit only 5 points back, while Jesse's team, tied for a Mover & Shaker this week, is only 14 points back and has been steadily gaining.  With only two weeks to go, neither the duo or Jesse can afford a down week, if this race is to continue.  Week Twenty-Six will be pivotal in how this all plays out.

Derek B.'s lead got shaved a little bit, only by 1 point, by Clayton's team in the week, but that's really a moot point with only two weeks to go.  The lead is 25 points and there's just no chance in hell that will come down.  It's Derek's money back, for sure!

It was another boring week in the shootout department, as there were only 4 goals scored in total, as these games are surprisingly not heading all the way to the skills competition.  Dale C. was the top team in the standings to get a goal, as his team moved into a tie for 4th with 8 goals on the season, while Grant's team, now 13-for-33 on the season, is tops by 3 goals and by the way this season has gone, that could be more than enough.

On the bright side, Eric's team finally got on the board in Week Twenty-Five, his team was the only one without a goal until this week, all thanks to Sidney Crosby of the Penguins.

Dale C. had the top team in the game-winning goals side as well, finishing the week with 5 clutch tallies, bringing his team's total up to 34 on the season, good enough for a tie for 8th in the standings.

Stuart's lead was shaved again by a goal and now leads Clayton's team by 6 goals with two weeks to go and that could easily be enough now too.  It would need a monster week for Clayton's team to nail this down and his team has been anything but special of late.

Scott's team has finally overcome Stuart's team for the goon team of the season, now leading 480-478 in the penalty minutes game, so there's one plus on the season for Scott's side.

John P.'s team, however, took goon team of the week honours, up with 35 minutes on the week and bringing his team up to a total of 413 minutes, good enough for 7th on the list this season.

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING

Despite four teams vying for the Mover & Shaker with really good weeks, it wasn't a great week for the hockey pool, as a whole.  The scoring rate across the board was down by almost three-quarters of a point per NHL game on the schedule, as we all combined for 580 points in the pool in the week.  Not clipping over the 600-point mark is pretty disappointing, especially when there are over 50 games on the schedule.  It's near the end of the year, so that does play a big part in it all.

NEWS AND NOTES

An upper-body injury for Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf made him a late scratch for the club ahead of their Saturday game against the Kings.  Getzlaf has been dealing with something over the last couple of weeks and has already missed some time in the past couple of weeks to the injury and now with the season winding down, you begin to wonder how much more he'll play.  The Ducks are well out of the playoff race now, so it might be a good time to rest up the captain.

Stuart's team can afford to see Getzlaf take some time off, but I'm sure that this couldn't come soon enough for the teams that were chasing him all season long.  I don't think this is any cause for concern now.

It was a home-and-home series for the Avalanche and the Blackhawks this weekend and Colorado played it out, taking 3 of 4 points, without Mikko Rantanen in their lineup for either game, as he is dealing with an undisclosed injury.  He was reportedly hurt on Thursday night against the Stars, but there hasn't been any detail published on his ailment, as the Avs are still in a playoff spot, even after their overtime loss on Sunday.  The Avalanche are now down two big guns in their lineup and will have to hold on for dear life now.

Ryan's team has some space to give, before having to drop down any more spots in the standings, as his team is 11 points clear of 15th in the standings.  However, he is now without one of his top forwards for an unknown timetable, so there is a chance his team could drop without suitable offense.

The Minnesota Wild are chasing the Avalanche for that last wild card spot in the west, but had to do so on Saturday without Zach Parise, who is dealing with a lower-body injury of his own.  The forward was reportedly hurt the night before, but played through the injury and it got the best of him overnight and into the next day, as he was unable to go against the Hurricanes.  He's considered to be day-to-day and if the Wild are going to make that last ditch push for the playoffs, they'll certainly need him.

Dale C.'s team is in a dogfight for a top 10 spot this season, finishing the week in 10th, 4 points back of 8th and only 1 point clear of 11th, 5 points clear of 14th.  If Parise is gone for any long stretch of time, that could be a harsh finish for his team, which is already down one key Wild player. 

New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider might be getting some late season rest on a lower-body injury, since the Rangers are long since out of the playoff picture in the east.  Kreider didn't play on Saturday against the the Maple Leafs and he has already been ruled out of Monday night's game against the Penguins.  With only eight games to play this season and no hope of spring hockey, the Rangers may just give Kreider whatever time he needs to feel 100% and he might draw back in to finish the season on a high note, if healthy enough.

Mike's team is in danger of dropping below 20th place now, as all of these injuries have been adding up for him this season.  His team finished the week only 4 points clear of 21st place and he has five players on the news page, all missing time.  What a horribly unlucky season for Mike's team, which on the plus side, still isn't in last place.

After starting (and losing) on Saturday, Carter Hart got the afternoon off on Sunday afternoon, when the Flyers took on the Capitals in Washington, allowing Cam Talbot to draw back in as the backup. As one of a few teams rocking a few goalies on the roster, there has just been no need for these clubs to overwork their goalies, if they don't have to, especially since they would have to put these extra goalies on waivers to send them down to the minors.

It was Jeremy's goalie that took to the press box on Sunday, which isn't considered a missed start at all, while Mike's goalie didn't exactly get a start and there were no points for getting dressed.  I don't expect we'll see Talbot much for the rest of this season.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Goalie Announcements (Mar 23)



This week really didn't work in my favour for getting goalie posts up on the blog or even the notes posts, for that matter.  It's just been one of those weeks and if things are picking up in the office, like they have been, then I probably won't be getting as much up there in the last couple weeks of the season either, so don't come expecting too much.

Are there any races worth writing about?  The 2nd-3rd-4th and now 5th place race?  Stacey M. has opened her gap down to 3rd place to 5 points, as Grant has lost a bit of ground, but pulled 2 points away from Kristy & Don in 4th, but Jesse's team is making a late charge and sits in 5th, 8 points back of 4th and 18 points back of 3rd.  It's a long shot, but still there.

14 points separates 7th to 14th in the standings, as Wes holds down the 7th place spot and is only 4 points up on Neil's 8th place team.  This is a good race, which holds four top 10 spots in its grasp and a top 10 spot this year is a pretty good accomplishment.  That's not a bad race to watch.

Otherwise, it's the weekly scoring races, where Jesse's team is charging at 27 points at the start of play today, with three teams only 3 points back to start.  Mike's team currently holds the Basement Dweller spot, but 4 points has him within five teams, so that race is long from over.

And of course, it's my first goalie post since Tuesday and I get a day with 14 games on the schedule, with a couple of early morning/afternoon starts, so it's time to put on my best guess helmet and get to work.

Darcy Kuemper (Neil) versus Mackenzie Blackwood (N/A)
One of the early starts is confirmed this morning and Neil gets the only pool start between the Coyotes and the Devils in the swamp.  Darcy Kuemper looks to lift the Coyotes back into a wild card spot with 2 points this afternoon, starting play only 1 point out.  Neil wants to jump up to 7th place, if he can and Kuemper will help guide the way here with a clutch win.  The Devils are getting a bunch of injured bodies back today, so the test will be tough.

Robin Lehner (Chelsea) versus Carter Hart (Jeremy)
Only Carter Hart has been confirmed for the other early afternoon game today, when the Islanders take on the Flyers, so it was a best guess to say that Robin Lehner would be on the other side.  Jeremy's team has been in the hunt for the Mover & Shaker all week and he gets the first of two starts with this afternoon game, as his team tries to salvage something out of this season, as meaningless to his wallet as it could be.

Corey Crawford (N/A) versus Semyon Varlamov (Wilton)
There was no news about goalies in the Chicago/Colorado game, which is another afternoon start today, but not quite as early as the first two.  The Avalanche still have designs on the playoffs this year, 1 point back, and the Blackhawks are only 5 points back, but they have to climb over three teams to get in, including the Avs, so that will be tough on them, but it does make for a huge game for both teams.  I would imagine that this goalie match-up would be what we're looking for.

Craig Anderson (Mike) versus Mikko Koskinen (Tony)
Nothing 100% confirmed for the Senators and the Oilers this afternoon in Edmonton, but it did sound like Ottawa was leaning towards Craig Anderson, which is as close as we're going to get without confirmation.  That's good enough for me!  Mike needs the points and he's hoping for a huge spoiler game in Edmonton tonight for those 2 points, while the Oilers are clinging to the narrowest of hopes, 6 points out of playoff spot and they will have to run with Mikko Koskinen, you'd think... right?

Pekka Rinne (John P.) versus Connor Hellebuyck (Jeremy)
Nothing 100% confirmed, but look at these two teams... Nashville and Winnipeg?  Top two teams in the Central, playing for home-ice in the 2nd round of the playoffs, assuming that they get past their opening round opponents, so they should be going with their number ones tonight in Winnipeg.  I'm sure John and Jeremy are thinking the exact same thing.

Alexandar Georgiev (N/A) versus Frederik Andersen (Wilton)
Only one hockey pool start in Toronto, when the New York Rangers take on the Maple Leafs.  Wilton's team gets another start from Frederik Andersen, as his team looks to make up some of those gains he's had since acquiring Andersen at the Waiver Draft.  His team was up to 8th place at one point, but has dropped down to 12th this week and starts the day 8 points back of 8th place and only 3 points clear of the basement.  Big game for him tonight.

Carter Hutton (Wes) versus Carey Price (Stacey M.)
The Montreal Canadiens are looking to hold onto their playoff spot tonight with a win over the Buffalo Sabres and/or some help elsewhere.  The goalie match-up is two pool teams getting the first of two starts tonight, as Wes' 7th place team will get a start from Carter Hutton, while Stacey M.'s 2nd place team gets a start from Carey Price.  Wes' team is only 6 points clear of the basement, while Stacey's team is 6 points back of the Mover & Shaker, not a bad coincidence, I guess.

Jaroslav Halak (Stacey M.) versus Sam Montembeault (N/A)
Stacey's second start of the night comes immediately in this post, as her Boston goalie has been tapped for the start tonight in Florida, when the Bruins take on the Panthers.  The Bruins are on the verge of punching their ticket into the playoffs and I think Jaroslav Halak and company are ready to get that job done tonight against a lesser team in the Panthers, who are running with their rookie keeper once again.

Devan Dubnyk (Wes) versus Petr Mrazek (Stacey C.)
This game is completely confirmed in the morning, as the Wild will travel to Carolina to take on the Hurricanes.  Devan Dubnyk has been tapped to go on back-to-back nights, coming off a win against the Capitals and lifting the Wild into that last wild card spot before the start of play today.  Wes looks to build on his gap from 7th to 8th with this start, while Stacey C. gets a start from Petr Mrazek and the home side, as the Hurricanes look to solidify their spot in the playoffs and Stacey's team starts 7 points back of the Mover & Shaker, looking to close that gap.

Andrei Vasilevskiy (Dale C.) versus Jordan Binnington (N/A)
The Blues have confirmed their rookie wonder goalie as the starter already today, but the Lightning, who don't have a whole lot to play for are likely to keep their number one guy sharp with a start for Andrei Vasilevskiy.  The Russian hasn't had the biggest workload this season, thanks to injuries earlier in the year, so they're not too worried about burning him out just yet.

Matt Murray (Scott) versus Anton Khudobin (Grant)
The Dallas Stars have confirmed that they will be going with Anton Khudobin tonight with the Pittsburgh Penguins in town, which is good news for Grant, as his team is chasing a team with two starts already on this post and his team is getting the short end of the stick, it would seem.  Dallas has a little bit of breathing room with their wild card spot, but they're in tough against a Penguins team that has been running pretty hot and will likely go with their number one, although that hasn't been confirmed.

David Rittich (Ryan) versus Jacob Markstrom (Chelsea)
If the Canucks were to make the playoffs, which is a long shot, at best, their likely opening round opponent would be the Flames.  In order to get there, they'll have to go through the Flames, which has been a favourable match-up for them this season, but 5 points and four teams to climb over, that's very improbable.  No confirmed goalies at the time of the publish button being hit, so we're going with the top dogs in this one.  There will definitely be some fight in this game, from both sides.

Jimmy Howard (Tony) versus Malcolm Subban (N/A)
I missed Jimmy Howard's new contract extension, giving him a 1-year deal with some incentives (35+ contract) this week and he'll get back to the net for the Detroit Red Wings, as they head into Vegas for a match-up against the Golden Knights.  Tony's team is in the running for the Mover & Shaker yet again, only 2 points back of the lead and I don't think he'll be leaning on Howard for those 2 points in Vegas, but it would be a nice surprise.  Assuming, not confirmed, that Marc-Andre Fleury still isn't ready to go from his injury, we'll see Malcolm Subban in net tonight.

Ryan Miller (N/A) versus Jack Campbell (N/A)
The Ducks played last night and the Kings are cycling their goalies, so this is my best guess for the late, late game, which is somewhat of a moot guess.  The Ducks seem rather likely to go this way, but the Kings could start Jonathan Quick instead, but there really is no value in it.  Brenda & Seward may disagree though... there's value!