Monday, October 27, 2008

Week Four Newsletter

It was a short week, thanks to the Super Saturday, all 30 teams playing in 15 games, it didn't give Sunday any matches. It also managed to take down scoring a little bit in the Draft (and probably the Sheet as well). If Week Three would be considered the first "full week" of end-to-end hockey, the Draft scoring was up to 491 points for all 17 teams. The way the schedule worked in Week Four, saw a pretty dramatic drop down to 399 points through the six days of the schedule. A very interesting decline.

For Week Five, we'll see 48 games and it's likely that scoring will be up from Week Four. You can only really hope that the upswing of games effects your players more positively than others. If your Draft team has overloaded with Devils, Coyotes, Blues or Capitals, you may be in for a long week, as they will only play in two games each this week. Ten teams will manage to get four games in this week, which means double the chances of points for those teams. Hoorah!

Hopefully this week, we'll get to see an elusive 40+ point week in the Draft. That would sure be something! Five teams in the Draft will have more than 40 skater games this week, not including their goaltending starts. That's ample opportunity to pick up some much needed points.

Poll Question
This past week's poll question gauged your surprise on a certain number of players that hadn't registered a point going into Week Four. Steven Stamkos was going to be the unanimous surprise with having no points and still not having any points, but there was some surprise later on in the week for Sam Gagner, who eventually broke through the zero point barrier, with two points against the Canucks. Stamkos and Jovanovski are both still sitting with no points, which is still surprising after a month into the season. I'm getting the feeling that Stamkos will be on his way back to juniors at this pace. Why would the Lightning want to waste a year of his entry-level contract on this sort of production? That's an expensive goose egg.

Onwards to this week's question... who has been the fantasy pool suprise player thus far? Alexander Semin of the Capitals, Brandon Dubinsky of the Rangers, Filip Kuba of the Senators, Paul Kariya of the Blues or Mike Modano of the Stars? Just for argument's sake... Modano wasn't taken in the Draft... at all. He has 10 points and will likely be the most highly sought after during the first waiver period.

It's pretty tough to argue with the most points in the Draft for the Mover & Shaker award, especially when it moves you into first place in the whole thing. Clayton had himself a pretty good short week, racking up 32 points and opening up a 7-point lead on second place.

Three players finished the week with six points for Clayton, which helped propel him forward. Zach Parise, Mike Richards and Peter Budaj were very beneficial to his cause in Week Four. He also managed to get top billing with five players not scoring for him in the week, which is quite the feat. Usually a team needs all of their players to be on.

This week's prize card for the Mover & Shaker is a Carey Price Game Breakers card from this season's Victory set. There is also a Patrick Kane and Jarome Iginla singles in the Game Breakers set up for grabs this season.

On the Sheet, it was a pretty big week for Don D., who finished the week with 75 points (tied for the Week lead) and he moved up 16 positions in the Standings. Having a big week for Don in Week Four were Jarome Iginla (7 points), Marian Hossa (6), Scott Hartnell (6), Mike Modano (5), Tomas Zajac (5) and five other players with 4 points. Don could be back up in the top ten with a couple more weeks like that.

In the basement of the Draft in Week Four was Grant, who has found himself in a pretty comfy spot down at the bottom of the Standings. His 12-point week was the Draft's lowest and now he has a 8-point gap to make up to 16th spot. Both goaltenders were problematic for Grant in the week, as Carey Price was ill for his scheduled start on Saturday and Martin Gerber has lost his starting spot (for now) in Ottawa. Injuries to Chuck Kobasew, Brian Rolston and Ryan Whitney are also big reasons as sto why Grant has had some trouble gaining any ground on his Draft opponents.

Falling down on the Sheet was Dave D., who fell down to last place (44th spot) with a very weak 34-point effort. Despite having a few good performances for his team, there were way too many zeros for comfort in the pool. 18 of his 32 selections were guilty of not registering a point in the pool, which is just way too many. He'll have to pick up the pace or make some trades before it gets to be too late.

In a week where the number of games is a little lower, it does open up the opportunity for a skater to launch themselves into the Player of the Week honour, as they are just as likely to finish up with plenty of points, where as goalies need more games for wins and therefore, shutouts. This week was definitely one of those weeks, as goalies were finishing up with only 6 points.

Jarome Iginla was the top player in the pool scoring this past week, as he finished off with 7 points. Iginla and the Flames played three games in the week, winning all three. In a 2-1 win over Washington, Iginla registered a goal. A hat-trick highlighted a third period comeback against the Predators on Thursday night. Finally, a goal and two assists was the icing on the cake against Phoenix in the week. Seven points to lead the league.

In the Draft, Iginla was taken by Jeremy, who finished the week with 30 points.

Other News and Notes

The injury bug hit Matthew Lombardi this week, as he was lost to the Flames for Saturday night's game against Phoenix with an upper-body injury, which looked to be a shoulder injury when the replays were broadcast on TV. Currently, he's listed as out on a day-to-day basis, but if the injury is reviewed a little further, I would expect to see him out a little bit longer. Lombardi is a pick of Ryan in the Draft.

The Hurricanes have now been riddled with injuries. Brandon Sutter, a Box 25 forward, was clocked by Doug Weight in the team's game against Long Island on the weekend. Sutter was just released from hospital on Monday and will likely be out indefinitely with a concussion. Joni Pitkanen was also bitten by the injury bug, as he'll be out for a month with a knee injury. Pitkanen, a John P. pick in the Draft, will undergo knee surgery this week and his return will be about 4 weeks away.

The Blue Jackets are not in a big hurry to give their young players a lot of ice-time and experience right away in their career. Both Nikita Filatov and Kris Russell were scratched this weekend and their pool value decreased a little bit. Filatov, picked in Draft by Chris, had been brought up from the minors when Mike Peca was suspended, but now he has returned and since Filatov only has one goal, he may get sent back down again.

Of course, as soon as the scratches came, Kris Russell was sent down to the minors on Sunday, where he'll likely get a little more seasoning before any sort of return. Surprisingly, it was Filatov that was sent down, as it was somewhat expected, but Russell shouldn't come as a big surprise either.

The Red Wings got some bad news on Sunday morning, as it looks like Johan Franzen will now be on the shelf for the next four weeks with a sprained knee. Franzen was in a knee-on-knee collision with Blackhawks' defenseman, Brent Sopel, and took the worst of the blow. Franzen was starting the season well, having 7 points in the first 8 games for Detroit, but will now likely miss upwards of 11 games. Franzen was picked by Benson in the Draft and was a fairly popular pick on the Sheet.

The Panthers have had some terrible luck with injuries already this season and Saturday against the Blues, they were without forward Stephen Weiss (groin) and defenseman Cory Murphy (shoulder). Both players are considered to be out on a day-to-day basis and neither were very popular on the Sheet or taken in the Draft.

The Kings have been surprisingly scratching veteran defenseman Tom Preissing over the last couple games. There haven't been any reports of injuries to the defender, but as soon as news comes down the pipe, I should be able to report it.

The Habs continue to be without forward Andrei Kostitsyn, who suffered that big hit last weekend against Phoenix. He is still groggy with concussion-like symptoms and likely won't be available right away, despite being listed as out day-to-day. It's still fairly early in the season and the Habs will likely not rush him back, much to the chagrin of Ryan, who has him in the Draft.

The Habs ghave also been sitting Mathieu Dandenault for their games of late. Dandenault was becoming a pretty regular scratch last season and it looks like he has moved back into the doghouse of the coaching staff.

The Devils couldn't manage a win against Philly this past weekend, thanks in part to a lack of offense, since both Brian Rolston (ankle) and Jamie Langenbrunner (lower body) were both out of the line-up. Both are listed as out day-to-day and only Rolston has an effect on the Draft, as he was taken by Grant. It's somewhat surprising that Langenbrunner was not taken in the Draft, but an injury will likely hurt his chances at being a pick up at waiver time.

The Islanders may be without their star goalie, Rick DiPietro, with another injury, yet to be disclosed by the Islanders. As of today (Monday), DiPietro will be going to see a doctor about this undisclosed injury and is listed as questionable for starting tonight. DiPietro has had a slow start to the season, both getting going and playing well in his few starts. His health has to be a big concern for the management and coaching staff of the team. The team does need him to be 100% down the stretch and resting him will be a good idea.

The Ottawa goaltening situation was already cloudy enough with Martin Gerber having problems with consistent play, but a leg injury didn't let him dress on Saturday. With Alex Auld taking on minutes for the Senators, Gerber might have found an easy out of the line-up for the time being. Bad news for Grant in the Draft, who is in dire need of getting some goaltender minutes and wins.

The Flyers have scratched defenseman Lasse Kukkonen on a somewhat-regular basis, as he's only seen a couple games this season. Kukkonen hasn't been a popular choice on the Sheet, so his scraches are not going to be of much impact.

Thanks to the red carpet treatment that the Blues gave Sarah Palin, Manny Legace got caught up in the carpet, thus straining his hip flexor. This could be a bad turn of events, as the team is already without new acquistion, Chris Mason, to an emergency appendectomy, which should keep him out another weeek. Legace is a pick of John B., who will eagerly await his return, so he can get himself back in the money.

Radim Vrbata has had some injury problems already this season, this time sitting out with a groin injury. Vrbata is a Draft pick of Chris, who has already missed out on some games this season. The Lightning will need him in the line-up to help their anemic offense to start the year.

The Capitals will have a long week by the losses of Tom Poti to a groin injury and Alexander Ovechkin to some personal business. Poti has been an injury prone player over the past couple years and he's already missed a couple games this season. His groin injuries are quite troublesome.

Ovechkin will be away to Russia, taking care of some personal family business. There was no indication of when he'll likely be back in North America to resume his season.

Also during the week, the Capitals sat forward Eric Fehr, as he has been a part of the musical chairs game there in the Washington line-up. With Ovechkin away, however, he should be able to fit in the line-up a little more often.

Click here to see an updated injury page.

Hockey Night in Canada

Finally, we'll finish the newsletter off with the HNIC schedule. In the first game, the Rangers will visit Toronto to take on the Leafs. The Rangers and their offensive potency will be put to the test against the Leafs and their new hard-working regime. It could definitely be a good, hard fought game. In the second half of the doubleheader, the road trippin' Flames will be in California, Los Angeles specifically, to take on the Kings. Los Angeles has had their problems already this season, so it isn't out of the question to expect a big game from the Flames offensively. It could be another good week to have Jarome Iginla.

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