Saturday, December 31, 2016

Centennial Classic Preview

2017 is only a calendar flip away now, as we'll celebrate the start of 2017 as of midnight tonight and with that will bring the continuation of the outdoor games pool and the commencement of the 100th year of the NHL.  In order to do that properly, the NHL has sent an outdoor game to Toronto, where the Maple Leafs will host the Detroit Red Wings at BMO Field, the home of Toronto FC and the Argonauts.

The Centennial Classic gets the January 1st spot, which is normally reserved for the Winter Classic, but this has been deemed the bigger of the two games, so they moved the Winter Classic to January 2nd (preview coming tomorrow!).

So, now to the outdoor games mini-game, where we actually have some money riding on this one.  Down below is the pool participation, which looks to be a busy one, regardless.

Detroit Toronto
Benson Jimmy Howard
Brenda & Seward Tyler Bozak
Brian Niklas Kronwall Frederik Andersen
Clayton Danny DeKeyser James Van Riemsdyk
Dale B. Frans Nielsen Mitch Marner
Grant Leo Komarov
John S. Dylan Larkin
Kristy & Don Thomas Vanek Nazem Kadri
Morgan Rielly
Marcie Jake Gardiner
Nikita Zaitsev
Marcin Henrik Zetterberg
Scott Auston Matthews
William Nylander
Stacey C. Petr Mrazek
Mike Green
Stacey M. Gustav Nyquist
Troy Tomas Tatar Matt Martin

** Players in red are injured

After the Heritage Classic, Marcie walked out with 4 points to lead the pool, thanks to a Cam Talbot shutout and her team will get some help in the Centennial Classic, thanks to a pair of Toronto defenders in Jake Gardiner and Nikita Zaitsev.

Stacey C. and Jeremy were the only two other teams to pick up points in Winnipeg and Stacey might have the starting goalie for the Red Wings, in Petr Mrazek, while Jeremy will hope that teams don't get too far away from his 1 point, as he doesn't have anyone going today.

Kristy & Don are hoping for a barn burner, as they have three players going in this game, two scoring forwards and a top end defender.

All indications are suggesting that it will be a Frederik Andersen start for the Maple Leafs, which is great for Brian in his run for top spot overall in the pool standings.

It seems like a tall order to ask for a high scoring game in these outdoor affairs, but we'll continue to do so.  It just seems right to ask.

Islanders Demote Halak

On Saturday morning (in the West), the news came down that goaltender Jaroslav Halak had cleared waivers, as expected, and immediately, the New York Islanders demoted him to Bridgeport of the AHL, where he will report right away.

The relationship between the Islanders and the goalie had really soured and having the 3-goalie system must have been somewhat aggravating, to say the least, for the veteran Slovak keeper and since there was no takers on the trade market, the next move was to see if there were any takers on the waiver wire, before demoting him, to which, there wasn't.

Halak made 21 appearances, through 20 starts, but could only muster up 6 wins and a shutout for 14 points, which has him ranked 280th overall in pool scoring, having splitting the duties with Thomas Greiss and J-F Berube.

Troy's team is taking a pretty good hit here, more so for the goalie survivor pool, than in the overall standings.  Troy's mini-game participation has way more value than his team, that sits 25th overall in the standings.  Troy will have to lean on Tuukka Rask in Boston for his wins on a weekly basis, unless Halak can somehow find his way back into the NHL, either through an injury to a teammate or an injury somewhere else, which could lead to a trade out of town.  We could be on Troy watch often in the goalie survivor pool, if the Bruins slide.

Goalie Announcements (Dec 31)

For those people looking forward to the end of the 2016 calendar year, it's almost here. We still have one more night of action to go, not to mention one more afternoon worth of action. With the countdown to puck drop on, it will be a quick post for the starting goalies, so it helps that there is no anxiety about the survivor pool. I don't have to drone on about the story lines. Ha!

We know that Robin Lehner is going to start this afternoon for the Buffalo Sabres and it should be fair to assume that Tuukka Rask gets the nod for the Bruins, which will make this a Jeremy versus Troy match-up in the standings.

Jeremy could have had two starts today, but the Capitals have opted for their back-up, Philipp Grubauer in the matinee start, a non-pool start here and we know that he's going to face Keith Kinkaid in the New Jersey Devils' net, making this game a non-pool wash from the crease.

No one was confirmed for this huge date today, but with two huge winnings streaks on the line, we should expect the best to try and keep them going.  Sergei Bobrovsky versus Devan Dubnyk, the two top players in pool scoring today, going for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild, respectively.  Mike and John S. are both surviving teams, hoping for the best in this one.

With Jaroslav Halak getting sent down to the minors today, the New York Islanders will likely be going to Thomas Greiss this evening and we know that the Winnipeg Jets will be going with Connor Hellebuyck tonight.  It will be Dale B. versus Tony in the pool standings at the MTS Centre tonight.

It should be 2nd place versus 3rd place in Pittsburgh tonight, as Benson's Carey Price should be going up against Cam's Marc-Andre Fleury in the game between the Canadiens and the Penguins.  Price has yet to be confirmed, but he is well rested, so he should be ready to go.

We know Ryan is going to get a start from Tampa's Andrei Vasilevskiy, but it is still unconfirmed, which way the Hurricanes will go tonight.  There is a good chance that Cam Ward will make back-to-back night starts, as they try to make up ground for the playoffs, but Eddie Lack is healthy again and could get the start.  It's either Brian's start or no one's start, as Lack was dropped earlier this season.

Calvin Pickard will get the start for the home side again tonight, as the Colorado Avalanche will play host to the New York Rangers.  The blueshirts have yet to confirm, but if Henrik Lundqvist is healthy, he should get the easy start tonight.  This means, Derek B. versus Grant, in theory.  I guess we can't discount the thought that Antti Raanta could start, given how well he's played lately.  Stacey M. should keep her fingers crossed.

Antti Niemi will get the nod for the Dallas Stars tonight, confirmed, which is good news for Wilton, but the other side has yet to be confirmed, but the Florida Panthers will likely give Cam his second start of the night, thanks to a Roberto Luongo start.

No one confirmed for this one so early in the day, but with the Canucks playing last night, there is a fine chance that Jacob Markstrom goes for them, while Cam Talbot should get the start for the Oilers in their barn, trying to close out the year with a big W.  Clayton versus Marcie is the projected pool teams in this start.

Marcie could get a second start from the Coyotes in Mike Smith and John S. is projected to have a second start from the Flames in Chad Johnson.  It's certainly a bonus game for both pool teams, as they continue to try and find their way into the money spots.

Finally, we're expecting a top end battle in Los Angeles, as it should be Martin Jones going for the Sharks and Peter Budaj going for the Kings in this, an all-Wes affair.  Wes' 24th place team is continuing to tread water in that spot, having lost some ground on 23rd this week.

Morning Player Notes in the Draft (Dec 31)

There were a couple of notes from the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night... first, the Flyers knew going into the game against the San Jose Sharks, they would be without defenseman Radko Gudas, as he is dealing with an upper-body injury and he is currently listed as day-to-day. There was no indication of when and where he suffered the injury, but he wasn't good to go.  And then secondly, the coach opted to scratch rookie forward Travis Konecny for this game, giving the kid a night off up in the press box.  The Flyers coaching staff has not been afraid to scratch some of their younger talent, if they feel they have been slipping, and that was likely the case here.  The Flyers will open the 2017 calendar year in Anaheim and Gudas' availability is still up in the air, but I would expect Konecny to be back.

Gudas belongs to Scott and Konecny was a Waiver Draft pick-up for Clayton, one of these teams is far more relevant than the other in the standings, but that team is missing the defenseman.  The loss of Gudas to Scott's team isn't a huge deal, but no one wants to miss games.  Scott will open Saturday's action in 5th place, 5 points out of the money.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Goalie Announcements (Dec 30)

It's a quiet night in the schedule tonight and the early afternoon forecast is for a few key games in the money race, as 1st, 4th and 5th will each play big roles tonight.  Frankly, the weekend can't come soon enough, those outdoor games are looming and it's getting exciting again.

Looks like it's 4th versus 1st in Carolina tonight! Scott Darling should get the nod for the Blackhawks, taking on Cam Ward for the Hurricanes, which makes for a Scott versus Brian match-up in the standings. Scott has fallen to 19 points behind Brian in the standings this week, but it is more about baby steps right now, with Scott's team only 4 points out of the money spots.

Mike's team of super-goalies has kept his team afloat and they might catch a break tonight, as Jake Allen and the Blues might get Juuse Saros, as the Predators are playing on back-to-back nights.  Nashville may still run Pekka Rinne a bit ragged, giving him both games, which I'm sure Stacey M. would be okay with, but it does seem rather likely that the back-up would get a start tonight.  Mike and Stacey's team are only separated by 10 points, but it could be more without her goalie playing.

The San Jose Sharks are playing the first half of back-to-back nights tonight with the Philadelphia Flyers in town and they will give Martin Jones the night off and turn to Aaron Dell for a start instead, taking the minutes out of the pool altogether.  The Flyers, on the other hand, have dropped their last two games, but they are going to stay the course, giving Steve Mason the net and Brenda & Seward the first of two starts tonight, both coming in the late games.

The Vancouver Canucks will get the traveling Anaheim Ducks on their second half of back-to-back nights, which likely means the Ducks will go with Jonathan Bernier tonight and since the Canucks didn't play last night, it will be Ryan Miller, looking to build on a win already this week.  The pool match-up here is Eric versus Brenda & Seward, an 18-point difference in teams.