Monday, January 27, 2014

Week Seventeen Newsletter

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Welcome to the Third Segment

Here we are!  We embark on the last portion of the season with Week Seventeen and all of our new Waiver Draft prizes have been active for the week, so now we race to the finish.  Of course, we'll take a break with the Olympians for a couple of weeks (or we play in my Olympic Pool, message me for details) and then we'll head into the stretch run after our Sochi rest.

The third segment started with all kinds of dancing at the top of the standings, as teams shifted up and down throughout the prizes all week, but there was one steady team, as Chris remained at the top, opening up a 10-point lead (for whatever these leads are worth this year).

Derek Wilton moved up, yet again, to 2nd place, while Allan moved into the money, from 5th to 3rd and Brenda jumped from 8th to 4th for the jersey prize.  Falling out of the prizes were Stacey M., who actually had 1st place, dropped down to 6th, while Grant fell from 4th to 7th in the week.

No one is safe, while nothing is certain.  I think we're in for a wild ride.

More Outdoor Games

I was really looking forward to seeing how well the ice would stand up against the California air, even though it was the middle of January.  The reports were saying that at game time, the temperature was +16 degrees Celsius and the game itself was unbelievably quick and the game was pretty darn good, even if the hosts, the Los Angeles Kings, were not.

The Anaheim Ducks took the body, drove the net and played a solid game from start to finish for the win in the first Stadium Series game of the season.

This game was a success and now the NHL will definitely be looking towards the sun belt.  Get used to it, it worked and I thought it was great!

In a more "traditional" market on Sunday afternoon, Yankee Stadium played host to the second outdoor game of the weekend and the first of two in this outdoor series in New York.  The colder temperatures of New York City were certainly making the conditions on the ice, something a little more traditional, as there were plenty of stops for fixing patches in the New Jersey end.

Despite what Martin Brodeur might say about how poor the ice was, it certainly turned into a pretty entertaining game, as the Rangers caught fire for six unanswered goals after going down 3-1 in the 1st period.

It wasn't the prettiest of games, but for more people to get the experience of the outdoor festivities, it was certainly worth while.

Scoring Up, As It Should Be

The whole point of having the Waiver Draft is to make sure we are all collecting points from most of our players.  That's why this whole game is so much fun.

Week Seventeen saw a new pool-high for points in a week, as 626 points were collected in 50 NHL games on the schedule.  That worked out to a very good 12.5 points per game, which ranks 3rd this season.  We saw some healthy line-ups, yet we're still not collecting all the minutes from the crease.  Nevertheless, it was a great week for scoring and here's hoping it will continue.  The more scoring we see, I think, will make the race to the finish more fun.

PhotobucketIt was an off-the-charts week for Dallas Stars goalie, Kari Lehtonen, who dabbled in a bit of everything in Week Seventeen and it all paid off for him in the end.  The 30-year old Finn finished the week with 12 points to his credit, raising his 2014 totals to 50 points, which is good enough for 24th in overall scoring, sliding him into 1st round conversations this year.

Lehtonen and the Stars played in four games in the week and our honouree finished with a 3-1-0 record, with 2 shutouts and 2 assists.

On Monday, he took one on the chin, suffering a 4-1 loss to the Nashville Predators, but that just ended up fueling his fire for the rest of the week.  He bounced back with a 4-0 shutout win over the Wild on Tuesday, then watched his team clobber the Leafs, 7-1, on Thursday, where he registered the first of his 2 assists, and then on Saturday, made 24 saves (and added an assist) in 3-0 win over the Penguins.  Yeah, it was quite the week.

Unfortunately for Dale B., he wasn't able to run up the standings with the big week from his keeper, moving up one spot, from 17th to 16th, but his goaltenders have been his bright spot, making up for more than 25% of his total points this year.

PhotobucketIt was a bit of a slow start for Mike in the pool this year, but his team has sure come on, with his third Mover & Shaker nod of the year, since Week Eight, he has moved into the top 10 and he now has his eye on some prizes before the end of the year.  Heck, he's put himself in a good position to start for the third segment jersey prize, with the outright lead.

Mike also finished with a record-high for the season, as he hit the 40-point plateau with an even finish.

Out of the 24 teams in the pool, only two decided against making any changes in the second Waiver Draft and Mike was one of those.  Good thing, too, as his team was scoring, from top to bottom.  All 14 of his active players were able to pick up points in the week, with Victor Hedman of the Lightning leading the way with 6 points.  Mike also cashed in on 5 points from Mike Ribiero of the Coyotes, 4 points from both Taylor Hall of the Oilers, Alex Pietrangelo of the Blues and Alex Stalock of the Sharks.

In the week, Mike moved up from 11th place to 8th and he now sits only 2 points out of the top four, right in striking distance.

PhotobucketIt has been a while since we last saw Leo as the Basement Dweller, but he's back again and his team might find his way back here a few more times down the stretch, as he didn't make all of his changes at the Waiver Draft.

On the plus side, with the record amount of points taken in by the whole pool, Leo did set a record-high for a Basement Dweller with 16 points.

To be fair, there are a couple of high-profile injuries on Leo's team, which caused a few zeroes, but he is starting to get healthy again, so it will be interesting to see if his team can dig its way out of the basement.


Probably one of the more disappointing feelings in the NHL, having to be a healthy scratch for an outdoor hockey game. This was the case for both Mathieu Perreault and Jakob Silfverberg of the Anaheim Ducks, as the coaching staff decided to go with a bigger, tougher line-up.  The decision paid off, as the Ducks were able to bang and crash their way to a 3-0 win over the Kings at Dodger Stadium.

On Saturday night, the Buffalo Sabres lost the services of forward Drew Stafford again, as the scoring winger left the game with an upper-body injury.  There was no word on Stafford's status for the coming week on Monday afternoon, which is somewhat strange, since the Sabres have game against the Penguins on Monday night.  He'll be listed as out day-to-day, if he indeed misses any time.

The Detroit Red Wings were without their captain, Henrik Zetterberg again, thanks to his recurring back problem.  Zetterberg has already missed some time with the injury this season, so he is sitting in injury limbo, possibly working his way onto the injury prone list.  Currently, he is listed as out day-to-day, no solid timetable at the moment.

Link to the Injury/News Page

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Player Notes in the Draft (Jan 25)

The Ducks continued to roll through some healthy scratches on Thursday night and in their preparation game (for the Stadium Series game on Saturday) against the Los Angeles Kings, forward Daniel Winnik appeared to be the odd-forward out.  Winnik has been pretty decent this year for the Ducks, scoring 1 goal and 19 assists in 50 games, but has found the press box from time to time this year.  There is a good chance he'll be good to go for the outdoor game tonight.

This is his first mention on the blog this season, because this is his first active week in the pool, as a second Waiver Draft pick-up for Dale C..  Winnik has only played in one game thus far for Dale, failing to register a point, but his second should be coming up right away.

Even some of the best players in the pool will come down with a bout of the flu and Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks is no exception. Keith missed out of Thursday's game against the Minnesota Wild. It was his first game off this season, which is pretty good, and since the Blackhawks don't play again until tomorrow (Sunday), it would seem likely that he should have shaken the bug by then.

Keith has been one of the main reasons why Grant has been in the prize conversation all year long, leading his team with 46 points in 52 games this season.  Grant has fallen out of the money now, but with Keith coming back, he'll stay close to the chase.

A lower-body injury forced St. Louis Blues sniper Alexander Steen from the game on Thursday against the New York Rangers. All of the reports since are saying that Steen is doubtful for today's (Saturday) game against the Islanders, since he hasn't been practicing since the injury. There has been no indication of the type of injury that Steen had suffered. Steen had already missed some time with a concussion this year, which took him off his torrid goal-scoring pace.

This is another injury to Grant's team, which has been somewhat unlucky and could partially be blamed for his drop out of the prize positions.  Grant goes into Saturday's action only 5 points out of 4th place, but he did have an 18-point lead in the pool at one point, just for perspective purposes.

After being a healthy scratch more often than not for the last few weeks, Carolina Hurricanes rookie defenseman Ryan Murphy was sent down to Charlotte of the AHL on Friday, ahead of Saturday morning's tilt against the Ottawa Senators. It would seem very likely that Murphy was demoted to gain some more ice-time and possibly get his early-season confidence levels back.  In 39 games played, Murphy has 2 goals and 9 assists, but has rarely seen any ice-time in the last few weeks to help improve those totals.

Allan, once a pool leader, dropped out of the prizes for a little, now sits in 3rd place, going into Saturday, has now lost a rookie defenseman from his line-up, but that shouldn't really hinder his side too much, as they've been climbing without much input from the young blueliner.

A pair of hockey pool healthy scratches from the Detroit Red Wings, which seems like a hockey pool rarity, but it happened on Friday night. Forward Todd Bertuzzi and defenseman Jakub Kindl were both watching the game against the visiting Montreal Canadiens from the press box, which seemed to do the team some good, as they came away with a 4-1 win.  Tough to say if the Red Wings coaching staff will run with the winning line-up, when they host the Florida Panthers on Sunday or give a couple other veterans a rest for the game.  Stay tuned.

Bertuzzi belongs to Leo this season, who's team is working their way into the basement of the pool, while Kindl belongs to Benson, who is watching his team claw some points back to climb back into the top half of the pool.

On Wednesday night, Alexsey Emelin was a healthy scratch against the Pittsburgh Penguins, as the Habs continue to struggle finding some consistency on their blueline.  Emelin did return to the line-up on Friday night against the Red Wings, as Rafael Diaz came out again as a healthy scratch.  These two do seem to be trading places more often than not in the last few weeks of the season.

These two defenders switching places hasn't seemed to have detracted from the seasons of Stacey M. and Chris, respectively, as they have both managed to stay in the top four for the better part of the season or the last few weeks, any way.

Reports surfaced on Saturday morning that the Washington Capitals lost the services of forward Mikhail Grabovski on Friday night against the New Jersey Devils, due to a knee injury.  Grabovski left the game in the 2nd period and was unable to return, but there was no indication of the severity of the injury on Saturday morning.

Just added woes to the pool's duo, Kristy & Don, who had spent some time atop the standings this year, now sit in 16th place, with very little optimism that they'll even climb back into the top half.  A rough year, indeed.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Player Notes in the Draft (Jan 23)

On Tuesday night, the Florida Panthers lost the services of forward Alexander Barkov to an upper-body injury. The coaching staff are saying that the injury is not believed to be too serious, as he may have been able to return to the game against the Buffalo Sabres, but they held him out for precautionary measures.  The Florida Panthers don't play again until Friday, home to the Colorado Avalanche, so it will be interesting to see if he is good to go by then or not.

Barkov was dropped in the first Waiver Draft by Kristy & Don and then was picked up again by Wes in the second Waiver Draft.

Also on Tuesday night, New Jersey Devils forward Adam Henrique left the game against the St. Louis Blues after blocking a shot with his hand.  The Devils did not update his status, due to the whole team taking the day off.  The Devils do not play again until Friday against the Washington Capitals and all of the roster moves they have done between then and now have been minor, more about the players who are eligible to play in the AHL over the Olympic Break than anything else.

Henrique belongs to one of the prize leaders in the pool at the moment, Derek Wilton.  Derek dropped down to 2nd this week and has fallen behind by 7 points after Wednesday night.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Player Notes in the Draft (Jan 21)

Not exactly the best way to make a first impression on your new pool team, as Valeri Nichushkin, fresh off being a healthy scratch on the weekend, was a scratch again on Monday, as the Stars played in Nashville. The coaching staff did voice some concerns about his energy levels and did say that he would return to the line-up on Tuesday night, the second-half of a back-to-back situation, in Minnesota. If there is so much concern about energy now, what will it be like when he gets back from Sochi?

I had Nichushkin pegged as a steal in the 2nd round of the Waiver Draft last week, where Benson picked him up.  The healthy scratch was a bit of a surprise, but maybe it is something that can boost the rookie's game a little.

Sounds like there is some more concern for Jimmy Howard's knee after Monday night's game against the St. Louis Blues.  The Red Wings number one keeper left the game last night against their division rivals with the knee injury and he is getting it looked at this week by the team doctors.  Howard has already missed some time this year with a knee injury and I haven't seen any confirmation as to whether or not it is the same knee that got hurt.

This isn't the news that Ryan V. was hoping for, but at the same time, the best he was likely going to hope for in the last third of the season was an outside shot at a jersey prize.  It was a rough season for Ryan and injuries and Howard just continues the bad spell.

An abdominal muscle issue, which stems from last season, has been nagging at Minnesota Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom this season and just as we enter the third segment of the regular season, it becomes a big deal again and he is now being held off the ice.  Backstrom was not out for practice on Monday and is not scheduled to return to the ice for a few days, which means the goaltending duties for the team are now left up to Darcy Kuemper and Johan Gustafsson, as Josh Harding continues to be on the shelf, dealing with his new MS medication and symptoms.  Backstrom is considered day-to-day, but with the way Kuemper has been playing of late, they won't rush him back.

Bad news for Grant, who thought it would be clever to pick up Backstrom, now that Harding is having some troubles of his own.  This health problem might be for the short-term, but it sounds like the Wild may be auditioning the role of starter, as of right now.

An injury to one of his fingers is what knocked Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek out of Monday afternoon's game against the New York Islanders.  Voracek suffered the injury when he was slashed in the hands.  There was no immediate update on Tuesday, as to Voracek's condition, but he will be on the list as out day-to-day, until there is a proper update from the team.

Another hit to the roster for Grant, who currently teeters in 4th place after Monday night.  Now without a goalie and a top end forward, it might not be long before he drops out of the prizes altogether.

A lower-body injury was the reason why Phoenix Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal was held out against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night.  All that is being said at the moment is that Hanzal is being held out day-to-day for right now, no details or timetables at this point.

Mike didn't seem to miss Hanzal on Monday night, as he finished the evening with 9 points, leading the pool in scoring for the night.  Mike moved into 10th spot with the big night and will look to continue that progress on Tuesday night, hoping that Hanzal is back soon.

Sounds like the flu claimed another victim this week, as Vladimir Tarasenko was not able to go on Monday against the Detroit Red Wings.  Tarasenko was listed as day-to-day and may still be questionable for Tuesday night's game in New Jersey.  I haven't seen any updates that would suggest anything either way, so don't be surprised if he sits another game.

This isn't a major bump in the road, but it certainly doesn't help Scott, who has seen his share of injuries and bugs over the years.  Scott currently sits in 9th and likely wants to see Tarasenko suck it up and get back in the line-up.

The Washington Capitals goaltending situation was a muddled mess during the Week Sixteen Waiver Draft and Philipp Grubauer was getting some starts, putting some doubt into Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth going forward.  After being pulled a couple of times in the week, Grubauer lost the goaltending battle and was sent down to the AHL on Monday, making room for the regular tandem.  If Holtby and Neuvirth falter at all, there may be another call for the German keeper to give it another try before the end of the year.

Clayton's goaltending has been suspect all year long and a change was deemed needed at the Waiver Draft, but it looks like one gamble has now failed, for the time being.  The push for the money has been made more difficult now.

Despite looking good in some recent outings for the Anaheim Ducks, young defenseman Sami Vatanen has been demoted to AHL as well, as Luca Sbisa has been deemed fit to return to active duty in the Ducks' line-up.  Sbisa won't go on Tuesday night, likely exercising some cap space or something along those lines, but Vatanen was likely going to be a scratch, so the demotion was to keep him playing right away.  His play should warrant a call-up, when the Ducks need another blueliner right away.

Bad luck for Derek Wilton, who looked to make an improvement on his blueline at the Waiver Draft, but instead, ended up with a bit of a short-term (to long-term?) dud.  His team has been hot any way, so we'll keep an eye on it.

The flu bug continues to make its rounds in the NHL and on Tuesday night, it sounds like it will cost Henrik Lundqvist a start, giving one to his understudy, Cam Talbot, against the Islanders.  Lundqvist is listed as out day-to-day with the bug and should be back to practicing before too long.  The Rangers are expected to make a call-up, so Lundqvist won't have to get dressed to back-up tonight.

Lundqvist has started to turn it on for Dale B. as of late, but the argument as to whether or not Dale can do anything with a re-surging Lundqvist, among some other under-performing players, is still pending.

Finally, the Washington Capitals are saying that Alex Ovechkin will be a game-time decision on Tuesday night, as the Senators come to town to face off in a battle of national capitals.  Ovechkin is reportedly dealing with a lower-body injury and may be rested to make sure that the injury doesn't get too serious.  We shall see.

Ovechkin is the top pick for Brenda, who sits in the middle of the race for the prizes, going into Tuesday's action.  She'll want her top gun to be in the line-up, so she can chase down some glory this year.