Thursday, February 28, 2019
The last day of February, eh? With how cold it has been this year, not that Brian would know about that, you would have thought that this would have lasted forever, but I'm sure you're as glad as I am, but where did this hockey season go, right?
We're three nights into the week, leaving the back half of the week to go and some teams have points and others certainly do not this week. Neil leads all teams in the weekly scoring with 20 points, but his lead is slim, only 2 points down to Wilton's team. At the bottom, four teams are at 5 points to start play tonight and it's a broad stroke of teams too, from 6th down to 23rd.
A relatively quiet Thursday with only seven games on the schedule, but there's still plenty of chances for points tonight.
Garret Sparks (Grant) versus Robin Lehner (Chelsea)
Somehow the goalie match-up tonight is being overshadowed by a forward going back to Long Island tonight... go figure! Grant and Chelsea's goalies are playing second fiddle to the return of John Tavares to the Nassau Coliseum and it's almost like this is the biggest news in hockey today.
Nevertheless, we'll give Garret Sparks and Robin Lehner their dues, since they are the most important players to this post, as Grant's team has stormed back up to 3rd place with 17 points, so far this week, while Chelsea's team isn't too far behind at 13 points. The Leafs are on back-to-back nights, so if the Islanders stand up to their former captain, Chelsea could go level with Grant this week. Interesting.
Brian Elliott (Troy) versus Sergei Bobrovsky (Kristy & Don)
A good Metro Division match-up in Columbus, where the Flyers are in to take on the Blue Jackets, as Troy continues to cash in on his recent pick-up of Brian Elliott in the Waiver Draft, already picking up his 5th start. The Jackets are not taking this game lightly, going back to their number one, Sergei Bobrovsky, which is good news for Kristy & Don, as they are the team chasing Grant down for 3rd place, starting the night only 4 points back.
Louis Domingue (Eric) versus Tuukka Rask (Jesse)
The Lightning are on back-to-back nights, so it seems very likely we'll see Louis Domingue tonight, he's got the streak, so why not throw him against the Bruins? The Bruins, on the other hand, have confirmed that Tuukka Rask will get the nod tonight and Jesse's team is trying to climb into that top five and he's closing up the gap, which now stands at 34 points right now and time to go in this season. This could be a very good game, indeed.
Mikko Koskinen (Tony) versus Craig Anderson (Mike)
The Oilers, 3-5-2 in their last 10, pay a visit to the Senators, who are 3-7-0 in their last 10, but only one of these teams has illusions of the playoffs heading into this one. Mikko Koskinen, who was pulled last night in Toronto, gets the start again tonight, while Craig Anderson plays out the season with yet another start at the other end. Either way, 2 points to either Tony or Mike will be a pleasant surprise from their goalies here, as it could be a long finish to the year. They'll get the minutes, but the points will be far and few between.
Thatcher Demko (Clayton) versus Darcy Kuemper (Neil)
Neil has been very pleased with his Week Eighteen pick-up, Darcy Kuemper, because of 10 starts, 7 wins and 16 points. Clayton also picked a goalie in that swap, Thatcher Demko of the Canucks, who is in to face the Coyotes tonight, in theory (not confirmed), has all zeroes, since getting hurt just after the players went live. Timing is everything. Clayton's team is only 8 points ahead of Neil's in the overall standings and if Clayton gets a goalie back, this could turn around... again, in theory.
Roberto Luongo (John P.) versus Malcolm Subban (N/A)
The Panthers are into Vegas for their annual stop on the NHL schedule to take on the Golden Knights and you know that John P. is betting on red (but mostly white) tonight, as his goalie, Roberto Luongo takes to the crease as the only pool goalie in this game. John's team has gotten off to a decent start this week, posting 10 points through Wednesday, but of course, it could be better. Tough task tonight, but the Panthers can be known to surprise.
Anton Khudobin (Grant) versus Jonathan Quick (Brenda & Seward)
The Stars and Kings will tangle in Los Angeles tonight and both goalies have been confirmed for this one, Anton Khudobin giving Grant another crease appearance tonight, while Jonathan Quick has been given the nod for the Kings, giving the pool's second duo a start. We know how well Grant's team is doing this week, but the duo is not doing quite as well, one of those teams down with 5 points through three nights. They could really use this 2 points to stay clear of the basement.
The Devils may be very interested to see what some of their youth in the system will do down the stretch of these last five or six weeks and it looks like Kyle Palmieri's injury will help that cause, as he is now listed as out week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
The injury news came with very little fanfare, as the Devils were sellers at the deadline, although they didn't sell too much, but with only 18 games left this season and 16 points out of a playoff spot, there is now only thoughts towards the future.
Palmieri has had a decent season, before getting hurt on Monday night and not dressing on Wednesday against the Flames. In 63 games this season, he has 26 goals and 48 points and was New Jersey's representation at the All-Star Game, more so due to the injury to Taylor Hall, but his honour didn't look too out of place.
The duo of Brenda & Seward have been looking to gain some ground on some of the other teams at the bottom of the standings and they were doing okay, as they have been jockeying for position with Chelsea's team, but have lost ground again this week, tied for the Basement Dweller spot with three other teams at 5 points this week. They are well clear of 24th place, but still 38 points back of 20th and this injury might put that goal out of reach for the season.
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
The Toronto Maple Leafs have shut down defenseman Jake Gardiner for a little while, saying week-to-week for right now, as he is dealing with a back injury. Some reports out there have been referencing his back spasms that he had been dealing with around the All-Star break, trying to put two and two together, but there is no confirmation about that from the team, other than it is a back problem.
Gardiner has been having a decent season with the Maple Leafs, picking up 29 points in 60 games this season, good enough for 232nd overall in pool scoring, 37th among all defensemen. The injury will certainly hamper his overall rating at the end of the year, but it will be a good rest for him, as the team goes down the stretch.
Troy doesn't want his guys to have any more rest, they've been rested enough. His team ranks 19th in skater games this season, 61 games off the pace of the top team in the pool. Troy's team has been making a bit of a push already this week, joining the big conglomerate in the middle of the pack in 14th, 11 points out of 7th place. This injury certainly won't help.
The injury concerns in Pittsburgh appear to be mounting at a horrifying rate, as we can now add Bryan Rust's name to the list of injured players and it doesn't sound very good. Rust was hurt on Tuesday night in the game against the Blue Jackets, playing less than five minutes in the game before leaving with a lower-body injury. The coaching staff gave an update today, but a vague one, at best, saying that this will be a longer-term issue. Nothing exact, but nothing really positive either.
Rust has been scoring at a reasonable rate this season, half a point per game, to be exact. He has 17 goals and 31 points in 62 games this year with the Penguins, which is good enough for 199th overall, in the middle of play tonight. That's 140th among all forwards, well within range of being pool worthy by the end of the season, but it's just a shame he won't be able to maintain those kind of rankings on the injured list.
Stacey C. certainly feels that pain, as his 17th place team is having a decent week already, but a huge loss to his forward group for an indefinite period of time is a big dark cloud looming over. His team is only 16 points out of the equator and that's a pretty good group, which won't need many points to really start moving up. Here's hoping that this injury doesn't last too long.
The Winnipeg Jets are going to have to adjust to life without defenseman Josh Morrissey for an extended stretch, as he was hurt over the weekend against Arizona, suffering an upper-body injury. The Jets coaching staff have already indicated that they don't expect him to be ready to go until April, missing the entire month of March, which looks like it will be about five weeks or so. With only six weeks left to go in the regular season, that doesn't mean he'll get much time to shake off the rust before the playoffs.
Morrissey has appeared in 59 games for the Jets this season, posting 6 goals and 31 points, ranking well among defensemen this season, 28th among them, already amidst play on Wednesday night. Yes, that makes him a pretty good player to pick up, if you can, if he can stay healthy.
Unfortunately for Wes, that isn't quite the case and it couldn't come at a worse time for his team. His team has been suffering again this week, sitting with only 5 points, at the time of this post, already losing ground to Grant and Kristy & Don, while teams just behind him aren't faring much better, so his 5th place spot is still in his grasp... for now.
The Carolina Hurricanes blueline has suffered in the health department over the last couple of days and included in that mess is pool defender Justin Faulk, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, missing Tuesday night's game against the Kings. It sounds like he will be expected to miss some more time, as the Hurricanes made a couple of call-ups on Wednesday, so that kind of news doesn't exactly bode well for Faulk and company.
Arguably, this is another chink in Stuart's armour, but his lead hasn't faded any more in the early part of the week, but there's some shakiness in there somewhere. He's already been down a forward for nearly a week and now a defenseman on the mend. We shouldn't get too ahead of ourselves, but the unraveling has to start somewhere.
Tuesday night's starting goalie for the Florida Panthers, James Reimer, was forced from the game against the Arizona Coyotes, due to a lower-body injury, believed to be a muscle tweak of some sort. There hasn't been any sort of timetable for his return and the Panthers have made an emergency recall of Sam Montembeault to backup Roberto Luongo for the time being, so there's that too.
Bad news for Dale C., who had made some gains early on in this third segment of the season, but they have all slipped away in the last couple of weeks. His peak finish in a week was 9th place, at the end of Week Twenty, but since then, has fallen back down to 12th and is now down a goalie too.
The New York Islanders welcomed back some key injured bodies on Tuesday night for their game against the Flames, which meant that some bodies had to come out and one of those guys was pool defenseman Scott Mayfield, who was made into a healthy scratch for the return of Thomas Hickey. The Islanders did not fare so well against Calgary on Tuesday night, so that usually means that a lineup shuffle will be in order, so Mayfield may still figure back in before too long.
When Tony picked up Mayfield in the Week Nine Waiver Draft, he wasn't doing too badly, but since, it's been a bit of a different story. Since being activated, he's posted 4 assists in 36 games, hardly what Tony was looking for at the time. Tony's defense has been mediocre this season, ranking 14th in the pool, heading into Wednesday's action.
The Vegas Golden Knights inserted Mark Stone into their lineup on Tuesday night against the Dallas Stars, which also meant that someone had to come out of the lineup and that would have been Brandon Pirri, coming out as a healthy scratch once again. Pirri hasn't been the scorer that he was in the second segment and his trips to the press box have been a solid sign of that. It's now time to wonder if he'll be up in the NHL for very much longer.
Clayton took a big gamble on Pirri, thinking he was one of the better scoring forwards available at the Week Eighteen Waiver Draft, but since, he has only picked up 2 goals in seven games. Not a very good return at all. All of his depth gambles have not paid off this year.
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Sort of lost in all the excitement of yesterday's trade deadline action, there was a further update to Mats Zuccarello's upper-body injury, which he suffered on Sunday night and it wasn't great news, as the team figures he'll miss at least the next four weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a broken arm. The Norwegian forward was displaying some of his hard-nosed style of play, blocking a shot and it caught him up high, breaking his arm. A tough way to go in your first game with your new team, especially already posting a goal and an assist in that game.
You would have to think the Stars were thinking they hit the jackpot with this sort of return early, but the injury quickly squashed those hopes and they did try and get into the market again on Monday to try and replace his injured spot, but they were unable to in the end.
For John P., he doesn't get the chance to replace him either and he'll miss out on four of the last six weeks of the season without one of his most promising forwards down the stretch. Zuccarello has been a decent forward for him this season, 39 points in 47 games, but he has had his issues this season, causing him to miss time, which includes a few times missing times to a sore groin.
John's team finished Monday night in 14th position, 2nd in the weekly scoring with 6 points and moving up a spot in the process. It will be tough to have high expectations over the next month with this new injury news, but they'll give it a try, by the look of things.
Well, you can paint me surprised, as Corey Crawford was activated from the Injured Reserve by the Blackhawks on Monday, adding a veteran presence to their crease. This means that one of their goalies had to go and it is Collin Delia getting the call to head back to the AHL, as he is the lesser-paid keeper, still developing his game. Delia won 6 games in his stay up with the big club, making 15 appearances to get there and picking up 12 points in total. Of course, he'll be the first guy up, if the Blackhawks run into any more injury trouble.
Out of those 12 points, Derek B. was able to capture a win out of it, 2 points in three appearances, which is a small help to his rookie total this season. Derek's team still holds a 15-point lead in the rookie mini-game, so there shouldn't be too much concern there.
The Devils were sellers on Monday's deadline and when they took to the ice, it was almost like the team sold off most of their training staff, as the lower-body injuries piled up on them. Both forward Jesper Bratt and defenseman Will Butcher were already sidelined ahead of the game against the Canadiens and in that game, another pool player, forward Miles Wood, left the game with a lower-body injury of his own. All three will be considered day-to-day until otherwise noted.
The Devils don't expect much out of this season, but there are still hockey pool teams that are depending on them to stay healthy. Jeremy's 17th place team has Bratt, Benson's 21st place team has Butcher and Ryan's 12th place team has Wood.
The rotation of defensemen continues in Tampa Bay and it was Mikhail Sergachev's turn to sit again, as he had a seat for the game against the Los Angeles Kings. This rotation has been nothing new to the team, as they have already been working it for about a month and it just adds to the workload of the blog, when I take these players off and re-add them later on.
Stuart's defenseman sits again, but his lead remains very safe. His team added 2 more points to it last night and that was without one of his prized defenders. Stuart's defense is tied for 9th in the pool this season with 104 points, one of the big compliments to his pool-leading forwards.
Monday, February 25, 2019
Well, the trade deadline has come and gone and I've got some blog posts to fill in with the takes and pool teams that are affected by such deals, but I thought I would offer up the goalies first, since they will be playing tonight... that much, I know for sure.
It's a new week, so new expectations of movers and shakers out there, fingers are crossed for some teams, hoping they don't dwell down below, so here we go!
Carter Hutton (Wes) versus Frederik Andersen (Wilton)
Hutton and Andersen, confirmed. Wes starts the week in 5th, 28 points out of the money, while Wilton starts in 9th, 52 points out of the money. Obviously one team will have a larger chance at 3rd place than the other, but even for Wes, it's not going to be an easy go at it.
Carey Price (Stacey M.) versus Cory Schneider (N/A)
Stacey M. gets the only pool start in New Jersey tonight, now that New Jersey doesn't have a pool goalie left after the trade deadline. Stacey's team opens up in 2nd place, 38 points out of 1st, 11 points clear of 3rd and 12 points clear of 4th. Her team has been keeping the pace and a Montreal win tonight should aid that in a big hurry.
Jack Campbell (N/A) versus Andrei Vasilevskiy (Dale C.)
Only one pool start in Tampa Bay tonight, as Dale C. picks up the nod from the Lightning, who were not very busy on today's deadline, not that they necessarily had to be. Andrei Vasilevskiy is getting the call for Dale's 11th place team, 3 points out of 8th and more importantly, 53 points out of the money. The Kings are ripe for the picking, so this could be 2 or more points.
Mikko Koskinen (Tony) versus Pekka Rinne (John P.)
It's a battle of Finnish keepers tonight in Nashville, when the Oilers will take on a Predators team that was busy today in making deals. I don't think all of those traded players will be available for tonight's game, which might give the Oilers an advantage on a team in flux. Tony's team starts the week in the 8th position, 7 points back of 7th, 50 points back of 3rd, while John's team starts 15 points behind Tony's in 15th, which is only a good Mover & Shaker week away and there's no better way to start that than with a win here tonight.
Roberto Luongo (John P.) versus Semyon Varlamov (Wilton)
It looks like John and Wilton each get their second start of the night, while most teams in the pool have yet to get one start, so how is that possibly fair, right? This season, John's goalies have had the overall advantage between the two teams, 79-68 through 21 weeks, but Wilton did improve his goaltending immensely at the Waiver Draft, so that could be much closer, if not flipped, by the end of the year.
Ryan Miller (N/A) versus Jacob Markstrom (Chelsea)
Finally, Chelsea gets a start tonight from the Vancouver Canucks, with Jacob Markstrom heading back to the net again, while the Ducks hadn't confirmed their goalie at the time of the post, but they are another team without an active pool goalie today. They have one on the roster, which is one better than New Jersey, but he's hurt. Nevertheless, Chelsea starts the week in 23rd, 44 points clear of last place.