Saturday, March 31, 2018

Goalie Announcements (Mar 31)

Well, this post could be a bit rushed, one for the early starts and two, I'm out the door in a little bit for the afternoon, so bear with me.

Troy's team is still holding onto the Mover & Shaker spot and he's looking for his second all-time nod on the Newsletter for top spot in the weekly scoring... his last time came back in Week Seven of the 2015 season!

The lead is now 4 points between Troy and Benson, 32-28, so that will be my initial focus and we'll see how time progresses from there.

12 games on the schedule, so lots of opportunity, right?

Roberto Luongo (Stuart) versus Tuukka Rask (Clayton)
This would be Troy's only possible start today and it's about 70/30 that he doesn't get it.  Roberto Luongo has not been confirmed and neither has Tuukka Rask, so this one could go just about any which way.  If it is this goalie match-up, Stuart is at 20 points this week and Clayton is in the mix at 25 points this week.  Troy would much rather pad his lead, I think, but we'll see.

Thomas Greiss (Dale B.) versus Keith Kinkaid (Stuart)
Benson has a couple shots at starts today, the first coming in New Jersey, where the Islanders are facing the Devils, but it sounds like Thomas Greiss will get his first start after being activated from the IR yesterday, which is good news for Dale B. and his side.  Dale's team isn't really in the Mover & Shaker race, at 18 points this week, but defending a money spot is key.  While Stuart does have one confirmed start this morning, as Keith Kinkaid will go again for the Devils and we know his M&S situation and we've all lost him in the money race.

Carter Hutton (Benson) versus Antti Raanta (Ryan)
Now, the Blues are working on back-to-back nights, which should mean that Carter Hutton does indeed go for the Blues, giving Benson one start today.  The Blues are probably licking their chops, looking at the lesser Coyotes and thinking that this is 2 points, but the Coyotes have been dangerous of late and they shouldn't be overlooked.  Ryan could really use 2 points from Antti Raanta, if he indeed goes, since he's holding down the Basement Dweller spot now.

Martin Jones (Chris) versus Marc-Andre Fleury (Scott)
Chris' team is at 26 points and I am able to sneak his only possible start in here, as the Sharks are in Vegas to take on the Golden Knights.  I would imagine that Martin Jones will get the nod here, as this is a big Pacific Division game, giving Chris a shot at 2 points (or more), while Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to go for Vegas, as they are on back-to-back nights.

That will indeed do it for this post... we'll be back at it tomorrow!  We're winding this season down in a hurry!

Morning Player Notes in the Draft (Mar 31)

It was quite the set of events for the Avalanche on Friday night, in and around their game against the Blackhawks.  Both of their top two goalies, Semyon Varlamov and Jonathan Bernier were set to return, Varlamov starting, from injury and coming out was defenseman Erik Johnson, day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.  Then in game, Varlamov couldn't finish the game, after colliding with a Blackhawks player in the 3rd period, so Bernier had to come in to finish the game off.  So, Varlamov returned and left the game with another injury and worst of all, he was working on a shutout at the time.

With the shutout being preserved, it was split, so no extra points are handed out, thanks to the stats and how they play out.  That means Stacey C. doesn't get 4 points, just the 2 points for having the goalie of record.  Scott does see his goalie come back and with Stacey's injury, it could mean more starts.  Johnson's injury though, that'll be a concern for Grant's team, which still safely sits in 9th.

A cause for concern for the Washington Capitals, as T.J. Oshie wasn't able to complete last night's game against the Hurricanes, thanks to a lower-body injury.  The team wasn't going to go into specifics, but some research out there has suggested that the injury may have occurred late in the game, so it may have floated under the radar a bit.  With a little over a week to go in the regular season, the Capitals won't be taking any chances, as they desperately need some playoff success this year.

Steve's team was, at one point, running away with the plus/minus title, but that has since fallen away, but any hope of coming back would have been aided by Oshie and his plus rating.  His team is 18 points back of 24th and does appear doomed to finish last in the overall standings.

Friday night was also a really good night for player returns and not just Colorado goaltenders! 

Dale B. had a couple of returns on the list, Trevor Lewis of the Kings was back in the lineup (although he could have returned much sooner and it flew right past me) and Thomas Greiss of the Islanders was healthy enough to be backup on Friday.  Those will be two players to help with his money placement defense.

Justin Faulk of the Hurricanes came back for Eric, the Islanders also saw the return of their top two defenders, Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk, offering hope to Wilton and Brenda & Seward, while Henrik Lundqvist was able to backup for the Rangers last night, Brad Hunt drew back into the Vegas lineup and Philipp Grubauer was backing up again for Washington.  Brian, Derek B. and Grant all celebrating those last three.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Goalie Announcements (Mar 30)

It's a day off for Easter today, what a Good Friday!

Troy has maintained his Mover & Shaker lead through Thursday night, so his team highlights the post again today, as his team currently holds on to 28 points this week, having a 4-point lead over Benson, 5 points up on Chris, 7 points up on Kristy & Don and then it's a tie at 9 points back between Brenda & Seward and Stacey M.  It looks like we'll cover six teams today.

Coincidentally, it's a 6-game schedule on Friday night, no afternoon games for this holiday.  Now, I may have finished this post rather early in the day, I have other things I wanted to accomplish, so there could be some guessing involved here.  Let's see how many of the goalies from our six teams are going tonight!

Troy's team doesn't have any possible starts tonight, so that's two taken away.

Frederik Andersen (Mike) versus Christopher Gibson (N/A)
No Jaroslav Halak tonight for the Islanders, removing one of Benson's potential starters from the mix tonight.  Halak will actually be a full-on scratch, due to an undisclosed injury, as Thomas Greiss has been activated from the IR and he will back-up Christopher Gibson tonight, when the Islanders take on the Maple Leafs.  So, a non-pool goalie ahead of a returning goalie, replacing an injured goalie.  That's what we have there.  Halak is day-to-day, by the way.

The Maple Leafs are still up in the air, at the time of writing this post, but it sounds like Frederik Andersen could go tonight, as the Leafs start back-to-back games.  The Leafs have clinched their playoff spot and only have a small outside shot at moving past the Lightning in the Atlantic for home-ice in the opening round.  Might as well take a run for it, right?

Jake Allen (Cam) versus Malcolm Subban (Wilton)
No starts for Benson at all tonight, as Jake Allen has been tapped for the crease, instead of Carter Hutton, for the Blues in Vegas.  The Blues have certainly wanted to give their number one the benefit of being the number one and get his form back.  This means Cam gets a start tonight instead and his team could use a move back to the middle of the standings as well.  On the Golden Knights side, it has been confirmed that Malcolm Subban will get the start and he will give Wilton a shot to get out of the Basement Dweller spot this week, where he sits with only 5 points.  A win will get his team into a tie with Ryan's.

Jonathan Quick (Chris) versus John Gibson (Tony)
Finally!  An actual Mover & Shaker type start and it comes all the way down to Chris' team, which couldn't quite make it to the top with a shutout, but that won't make Chris stop Jonathan Quick from trying tonight.  The Kings are running on the second half of back-to-back games tonight, so it will be interesting to see how much jump they have against John Gibson and the Ducks.  Tony's team is one of five to have not yet found double-digits in the week, although a win will put it over.

Kristy & Don don't have any of their keepers in the six games tonight, neither do Brenda & Seward.  The duos will have to wait until Saturday, assuming that they're still close enough in the race, to see their keepers on the blog.

Cam Ward (Stacey M.) versus Braden Holtby (Grant)
Finally, there is one more shot for a Mover & Shaker team and Stacey M. appears to be taking it... or be given it, whichever!  Cam Ward should be getting the call again for the Hurricanes, when they travel to Washington to take on Braden Holtby and the Capitals.  This could be a double-whammy for Stacey, as her team wants to keep pace for the Mover & Shaker and they'll want to take down the gap to Grant's team, just ahead of her's in 9th.  The gap opens up the night at 17 points.

Noon Player Notes in the Draft (Mar 30)

Further to this morning's injury post from Chicago's crease, the Blackhawks coaching staff now believe that Anton Forsberg's season is now likely done with his lower-body injury, given there is less than a week and a half to go in the regular season and there is just no more push in the Blackhawks for a playoff spot.  Forsberg appeared in 35 games this season for the Blackhawks, only picking up 10 wins and 21 points, but he was thrown to the wolves with the Corey Crawford injury early in the season and the Blackhawks couldn't wrap their season around it.

Derek B. could be thankful that the pool's other Derek, Wilton, has not been having a productive week at all in Week Twenty-Six, and between the two team's projections for the end of the week, one could pass the other for 12th spot before the end of Sunday's action... in theory.

There's more goalie trouble to report, as the Buffalo Sabres released their daily injury report to show that Robin Lehner is now day-to-day with a lower-body injury today, after leaving last night's game against the Red Wings early.  There wasn't too much more to report from Sabres camp, but as it stands now, the Sabres are leading the way for the best lottery pick in the draft in the overall NHL standings and they might not be in such a big hurry to rush him back to the net.

The Mover & Shaker race isn't too far out of reach for Kristy & Don this week, but they'll open up Friday night 7 points back of the leader, with only three games to play and down a goalie.  It seems rather unlikely that they'll make that push for the end of the week, but it's still a decent week.

The pregame report from the New York Islanders coaching staff, as they prep for the Maple Leafs on Friday night, said that forward Josh Bailey will be a scratch tonight, as he is dealing with an upper-body issue.  There didn't appear to be much more in the way of details on the injury, but if it is something more significant, it would be a pretty poor way to finish a stellar season, 69 points in 73 games is a damn good year.

This would be a pretty huge blow to Benson's chase for 2nd place in the standings, if Bailey can't go anymore.  Benson's team sits in 3rd, 1 point back, and only 15 points up on 4th, which is a good week from below to make up.  Benson might not be white-knuckling it yet, but it could be close.

2018 Playoff Pool Sheet is Ready!

I did have a playoff pool sheet done for last year's playoffs, but I just wasn't feeling the work that had to go into it, so the hiatus was, in fact, on for last year and it was a much needed break, I'd say.  But how good would that year have been in the pool, since very few people had the Pittsburgh Penguins to go back-to-back?

Now, I'm coming back with a vengeance and this playoff pool sheet is looking pretty good, if I do say so myself.  A few people have been asking for it, I know a few people have been quietly waiting to see if it will happen again and indeed, it will.

With no further waiting, click this link to see this year's playoff pool entry sheet!

We already know that Nashville, Boston, Vegas, Washington, Tampa Bay, Winnipeg and Toronto have all punched their tickets to the dance, while Calgary, New York, Long Island, Chicago, Edmonton, Detroit, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Arizona and Buffalo have all been mathematically eliminated.  Those eliminated teams have been stricken from the sheet already, leaving three teams that still could yet be eliminated and they'll be the land mines for you to avoid.

The regular season officially ends on April 8th with one game between Florida and Boston, a game that may still have some bearing on who is in and who is out.  Who knows? 

The deadline for submission is the opening puck drop on April 11th, which will likely be 5pm MT.  It's $10 to enter again, because it's a quick sprint to the finish line and there's no sense in paying too much.  The same rules apply, you can only take a maximum of three players (including goalies) from any one NHL team and the scoring is pretty basic and included on the sheet. 

Most points in the pool wins, tie-breakers goes goals, wins and then the bonus points... game-winning goals!

Late 2018 Season Prospect Class

You know what? With how busy it has been at the office and other things going on, it has been a real shame that I haven't been able to sit down at the blog a little bit more and post a couple more things. I think, most importantly, this post on some of the young talent that is joining the league, in time for either the coast to the finish for non-playoff teams, the stretch run and possibly even a playoff run.  There are a number of young players, that have finally signed some deals, some drafted, some undrafted, but all might have some kind of an impact on the hockey pool, either in the playoffs this year or in the regular season next year.

Here are a few of the players that I'm really excited for and as I'm saying that, I'm wondering why I should even post this.  In all seriousness though, these are probably some of the players I will be highlighting at some point in the off-season or preseason, so even if you've missed this post (which you obviously haven't), there will be more chances for me to possibly spoil my picks in the draft.

Have you seen this Ryan Donato kid yet?  One might have begun to wonder what would have happened, if he had been with the Bruins all season long, because he has gotten off to a great start to his NHL career.  The 21-year old kid finished up at Harvard with a Hobey Baker nomination, played for Team USA at the Olympics and that's just scratching the surface this season. The kid already has 4 goals and 6 points in his first six games of his NHL career and he has really looked like a seasoned vet.  He has earned a spot on the playoff pool selection sheet, for sure.  Any takers?

The New York Rangers have been in rebuild mode since the trade deadline and in that, they have been able to show off a couple of their good young prospects.  Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil, both 2017 1st round draft picks, have entered the team's active roster for the stretch run and both have already registered points for the Rangers, since joining the lineup.  Both players featured in the World Junior Championships this past Christmas holiday season and both looked good in the tourney.  Now, if the Rangers can add some talent around them, they could be very intriguing at the draft next year.

Another one of those college grads and US Olympian, Jordan Greenway, has been highly-touted since his last World Junior tourney, back in 2017, as a big-bodied kid with all sorts of offensive talent.  Greenway finished up at Boston University this year and the Wild kindly made room for him for the playoff push.  The 2015 2nd round draft pick has yet to register his first points of his career in two games, but you know it's coming.  The Wild are almost locked into a playoff spot, but I think the Wild are pretty stacked, so they won't feature the big rookie this year on the playoff pool sheet.

2016 1st round draft pick, forward Henrik Borgstrom, had a couple of very good seasons at the University of Denver, scoring well over a point-per-game in both of his years there and that got the Florida Panthers pretty excited to get his name on the contract sheet.  I think that Hobey Baker nomination also helped with the excitement levels too.  Borgstrom finally made his debut last night against the Senators, playing 17 shifts and played 12 minutes, but didn't register anything.  His was a name that was floated around quite regularly, given his scoring standards in the NCAA ranks, so we'll see how that pans out down the stretch, while they play out the rest of the year.

The biggest college free agent in the late season push was Minnesota State defenseman Daniel Brickley, who finally decided upon the Los Angeles Kings, signing his entry-level deal on Wednesday.  These NCAA free agents are fun to watch, as they are rather hit-and-miss, but there is some excitement around this defender, who had some very good scoring numbers from the back end, including 10 goals and 35 points in 40 games in his third season in college.  He has some matured size already, but according to TSN, there is no rush to get him in the lineup in their playoff push, so he won't feature this year, but will be one to watch.

The third of the Hobey Baker nominees comes from the NCAA's leading scorer this season, Northeastern's Adam Gaudette, who finished with 60 points in 38 games, but his team failed to go anywhere in the year end tournament.  Fortunately for the Canucks, he signed his entry-level deal and made his debut on Thursday night against the Edmonton Oilers.  The kid has reasonable size, plays down the middle and his college scoring numbers are certainly worth going back to time and time again.  His debut might not have been flashy, but he's one to watch.

After blasting off onto the scene at this past year's World Junior Championships, 11 points in 7 games and a bronze medal, Casey Mittelstadt was likely being pushed hard by the Buffalo Sabres, to immediately bring his talents out of the college ranks, playing for the University of Minnesota, and get a leg up on his NHL career.  Mittlestadt made his debut this week, registering an assist against the Red Wings on Thursday night.  This kid has some decent size at only 19 years old and great vision as well.  The Sabres obviously want this 1st rounder to help compliment their stars with his play-making ability and it probably won't take too long before he does.

Finally, it was a KHL contract that the Nashville Predators were waiting to see expire and when Jokerit in Finland was eliminated from the KHL playoffs, Eeli Tolvanen was set to make the leap over to the NHL.  On Thursday, he officially signed his entry-level deal and he can start playing at any time now.  This would be just another one of a long list of stops for the 18-year old, who scored 19 goals and 36 points in 49 KHL games, played at the World Juniors and the Olympics, just to name a couple more and was a standout in each of those tournaments.  Tolvanen is a natural goal scorer and even without seeing him play at the NHL level, he's going on the playoff pool sheet.

Morning Player Notes in the Draft (Mar 30)

The injury bug has really hit the Flames hard, as they are now expecting to be without both forward Matthew Tkachuk and defenseman T.J. Brodie for the remainder of the regular season and then Travis Hamonic threw his name into the mix as well, suffering an upper-body injury against the Blue Jackets in a 5-1 loss on Thursday night.  Hamonic was hurt in the 1st period and after the game, the Flames coaching staff suggested that he would be out for a while too, which could mean the last week of the regular season as well.  If anything, the Flames will get to feature more of their youth for the last few games of the season.

So, the new loss means some lost man games down the stretch for Grant's team, which sits in 9th place, but still 17 points up on 10th place.  It seems unlikely that his team will fall down anymore in the last week, as it does still have some quality left playing.  For Chris and Ryan, they have now seen Tkachuk and Brodie's games scratched from their projected numbers.

It was a bit of a goaltender shit show for the Blackhawks last night, when they played host to the Winnipeg Jets. The top-billed goalie on the team, and pool taken, Anton Forsberg, suffered an injury in the pregame warm-up, which forced him from making the start against the division rivals, leaving Collin Delia to make his NHL debut for the team. Unfortunately, Delia was hurt too, which brought it down to emergency backup, Scott Foster, to take to the net.  The Blackhawks were remarkably able to pull out a 6-2 win and Foster stopped all seven shots he faced in the 3rd period.  There was no update on Forsberg after the game, but the team recalled J-F Berube to likely take his spot.

Derek B.'s team still likely has its eyes set on 10th place in the standings and it's not impossible right now.  His team only sits 9 points out after Thursday night, but losing a goalie is going to hurt.  Every other team seems to be suffering injuries too, so there is that to hang your hat on.

Depends on who you're reading, it sounds like Jake Muzzin could be out for a little while or he could be back as early as next week.  Muzzin suffered an upper-body injury against the Flames on Monday and missed out on last night's game against the Coyotes, which is only one of possibly two games he could miss, before returning.  The Kings are not entirely safe in the playoff race just yet, so they could really use Muzzin's 42 points in 74 games, in terms of his production.

I don't think Stuart is really bothered at this point in time.  He's too far ahead in 1st for us to even really care.

After such a rocket of a start to the season, New Jersey Devils rookie forward Jesper Bratt has really cooled off and the number of healthy scratches down the stretch is a very good indicator of that.  Bratt was a healthy scratch again on Thursday night against the Penguins, but it didn't really seem to spur on the team to victory, although they did register a point in the loss, losing in overtime, 4-3. 

Ryan's team has seen those numbers dry up the most, having only collected 18 points in his last 46 games of the season.  Ryan's team was hoping for a real offensive push to stay competitive in the pool, but it didn't come.  Ryan's team sits in 23rd, in danger of dropping to 24th today.