Monday, January 21, 2019
Week Sixteen Newsletter
Two really big games in Week Sixteen propelled Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane to his 2nd Player of the Week award of the season, as he was far and away this week's best player, finishing with 10 points in three games. The playmaking forward sure enjoys the spotlight, as this is the 7th time he has taken the mention since the start of the 2010 season, but this is the only time he has done so with a double-digit number in points.
The week opened up with a pair of goals and a pair of assists against the Devils on Monday, which he followed up with a solitary assist against the Rangers on Thursday and then he scored a pair of goals and added a trio of assists against the Capitals on Sunday night. Kane finished with 4 goals and 6 assists and was all by himself atop the scoring standings this week.
This big week has now brought his season totals up to 29 goals and 70 points in 49 games, which is now good enough for 5th overall in pool scoring, still trailing top spot in the overall scoring race, which belongs to Nikita Kucherov of the Lightning, by 8 points.
This is now the 5th week where Stuart has finished the week in 1st place in the overall standings, but he had yet to get a Mover & Shaker this season, up until this very week. Stuart's team finished with 39 points and now holds the biggest lead of the season, at the end of the week, which now stands at 21 points.
I don't know where Stuart gets his horseshoes from, but he is now well on track for back-to-back years of wins in the hockey pool, thanks in large part to having the Player of the Week on his side, Patrick Kane, not to mention a pretty good week from Boston's Brad Marchand, who finished with 6 points as well. Dylan Strome of the Blackhawks had 5 points, while both Brayden Point of the Lightning and Thomas Greiss of the Islanders each had 4 points to round out the notable players on his team.
Only two players on Stuart's active roster were unable to pick up points in the week, one of which was due to injury and the other just didn't show up for this week, I suppose.
Stuart's team is absolutely propelled by his forwards, which he put the farm on at the draft, where his team has a clear advantage at 340 points this season, 35 points better than the next team on the list, which is also better than three teams in the pool for total points. His team ranks 1st in goals scored by all of his skaters, with 167, 10 better than the next team and that has led to some other leads in the mini-games, which might turn into a pretty good-sized pay day for Stuart in April.
The Basement Dweller race was remarkably close all week long and it finished with a tie-breaker with a season-high for points for the last place team in the weekly scoring. Both Wes and Neil saw their teams finish at 19 points and we need to narrow this down to one team, so we head to the first tie-breaker... goals scored! Neither team were last in the category this week, but by a 7-6 margin, Neil's team avoids the nod and Wes' team goes from 1st (for two weeks) to worst in the snap of his fingers.
Five of Wes' players were unable to post points in the week, making this quite the let down of offense after two very strong weeks. Sean Monahan of the Flames was his only bright spot, finishing with 4 points and it just looks like the schedule sort of evened everything out for Wes and the hockey pool, since it was certainly in his favour there for a while.
This is the first time that a team in the top 10 finished in the Basement Dweller nod this season and this is the highest total of points for a Basement Dweller since Cam's 21 points back in Week Nineteen of last season. By my unofficial count through the history books, this appears to be only the 9th time that a team has finished with 19 points (or better) as a Basement Dweller, the record being 25 points by Dale C. in 2010, back when there were only a couple handfuls of teams.
The top three teams didn't change and neither did their order, we're still looking at Stuart, Stacey M. and Grant as our top three, Stuart's team did open quite the lead, thanks to his Mover & Shaker nod this week, the lead now up at 21 points. Stacey and Grant are only 3 points apart, while Kristy & Don are still on the door step, 4 points out of 3rd place. Wes' Basement Dweller week saw his team drop back to 7 points out of 3rd place, which isn't too bad, but his team still has a 15-point buffer to 6th, so it's looking more and more like a 5-horse race now to the finish.
Derek B. saw his team post another big week in the rookie pool, as he picked up 7 points, thanks to Oscar Lindblom of the Flyers, who had 3 points on his own. Derek's team has now cut the overall lead down to 10 points, still chasing Clayton's team, who has seen the return of Elias Pettersson of the Canucks on Sunday, accounting for his only 2 points in the mini-game this week.
The shootout remains rather droll with a third straight week with only 2 goals scored, Troy and Stacey C. each posting the goals for their side this week. The skills competition has really dried up in the last month.
Jeremy, Mike, Grant and John P. all still have 6 goals this season, still tied for the lead, but none of them have seen a goal since Week Eleven.
Game-winners have still been pretty good for the pool, as we collected 33 of them this week in total. Brian and John P. led the way with 4 goals this week, but most notably, Dale C. had 3 goals and moved into 2nd place in the mini-game, trailing Stuart's team, which was shutout in Week Sixteen, by 10 goals.
Goon team of the week belonged to Scott's side, which led all teams with 29 minutes in penalties, moving up to 3rd place overall in the category this season.
Stuart's team still leads the overall standings for penalty minutes, but his lead has been falling away to both Ryan and Scott in recent weeks. I guess Stuart's team is now concentrating on scoring more, like it should.
There were some good streaks of positive weeks snapped in the Plus/Minus field this week, but only one number really sticks out and it was Benson's -20, which is among the season-lows for the season, which drops him to last place in the second segment of the season with a combined -31 rating and for the season, his team is 18th with a combined -24 rating.
Wes holds the overall lead in this game, with a +77 rating, followed by Neil at +59.
Scoring was up this week, which was a big plus for the pool, especially now that we're heading to the All-Star shortened Week Seventeen. The pool combined for 660 points, the same total we had last week, but in two less NHL games, which meant the average was back on its way up.
Goalie participation was only slightly better this week and we're only a couple of weeks away from activating some new goalies, which is really good news for the pool. We're really in need of some addition by subtraction (and more addition) in this pool.
NEWS AND NOTES
Cleaning up some of the weekend notes here in the Newsletter, starting with the Anaheim Ducks placing forward Ondrej Kase on the Injured Reserve on Saturday. Kase was hurt on Thursday night against the Wild, suffering an upper-body injury, believed to be to his arm and there is no current timetable for his return. Kase has 11 goals and 20 points in 30 games this season, but it has been a tough season, so far, already missing 18 games to a concussion.
Wilton picked up Kase at the Waiver Draft and was getting good returns before this injury, 13 points in 19 games, so it's going to be a tough blow to his pool team.
The Boston Bruins were quick to confirm that goaltender Tuukka Rask indeed suffered a concussion when he was on the wrong end of an on-ice collision with Rangers rookie Filip Chytil, shortly after giving up a goal to the Czech winger. Rask was forced from the game and the Bruins are hopeful that the symptoms are not too bad, but there likely won't be any updates until he's ready to go again.
Tough break for Jesse's team, which was already not getting the amount of starts that he expected out of Rask, since the Bruins were platooning their goalies this season. This may open up more questions, when the Waiver Draft kicks off here again soon.
On Sunday, the Chicago Blackhawks opted to scratch rookie defenseman Henri Jokiharju for their game against the Washington Capitals and it was quite the game to miss, as the Blackhawks beat up on the Capitals, 8-5. The young Finn hasn't quite got his feet back underneath him after the World Juniors experience and it was time to take him out of the lineup for a night.
I'm sure Brian was pretty disappointed to see his young defenseman take a seat during an offensive outburst like this, but those are the breaks, I guess. Brian's team still had a pretty strong week, despite missing out on this one.
A big injury concern for the Colorado Avalanche, as Mikko Rantanen went down with a lower-body injury on Saturday night against the Los Angeles Kings and his status for the All-Star shortened week, not to mention his potential All-Star appearance, is in doubt. Rantanen is ranked in the top five in pool scoring and has had a monster season offensively for the Avalanche, who hold a playoff spot, so fingers are crossed that he won't be out for very long.
Ryan's team is still situated in the top 10, thanks to Rantanen's season being so productive. If Ryan's team is going to make a push for the big money, he'll need his big Finn to be healthy and back in the Colorado lineup before too long.
Much of the same from the Detroit Red Wings, as they also decided to make a rookie defenseman into a healthy scratch, as Dennis Cholowski was sent upstairs to the press box for his team's visit to Vancouver on Sunday afternoon. The rookie had a rough outing against the Flames on Friday night, registering a -3 rating, which is usually a good indication of why he was a scratch. I would imagine he'll draw back in after the team's loss to the Canucks, Tuesday in Edmonton.
This scratch didn't help Clayton's numbers in the rookie pool on Sunday, but maybe the scratch was what the rookie needed to get his head back in the game. I don't think there is much cause for concern here.
The run of rookie defensemen as healthy scratches continues in this post with the Ottawa Senators, who played on Saturday night against the Blues, opted to sit Maxime Lajoie as a scratch. He has been held without a point in his last 12 appearances and had a healthy scratch in there as well, not picking up a point since December 17th. His minutes have been up and down in the last 12 games, so it will be interesting to see what the Sens do with him going forward.
John P.'s luck hasn't been too great this year and Lajoie hasn't been much help since being activated from the Waiver Draft, only picking up 1 point in 18 games. It will be interesting to see what John does with him for the second swap of the year, coming up soon.
San Jose All-Star defenseman Erik Karlsson was held out of Saturday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning with an undisclosed injury and there is a chance that he will sit out the next couple of games as well, putting his All-Star availability in doubt. Karlsson was reportedly hurt on Tuesday, played through the pain on Wednesday, but the team opted to shut him down for the weekend and possibly more. He's listed as day-to-day.
That's two skater games missed on the blueline for Clayton's pool team on this post and it could add up to some more time being missed. Karlsson has come around nicely after a slow start to the year, 43 points in 47 games isn't too shabby, so far.
It never really seemed like we had too many healthy scratches throughout the year, plenty of injuries, but the scratches were held down to a minimum. Not this week, obviously, as we can also add another trip to the press box for sophomore defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, who still hasn't been able to find his rhythm this season. The Tampa Bay Lightning continue to roll this season, so they can certainly afford to offer the young defenseman some time off to help figure out his game.
Stuart wasn't complaining too bitterly, I'm thinking, since his team had such a great week this week. His team is well on its way to defending his hockey pool title and taking the trophy for another summer.
Toronto defenseman Jake Gardiner has been having a rough go at it these days, drawing the ire of the home crowds and now he's suffering through some back spasms, which held him out of Sunday's contest against the Arizona Coyotes. Back spasms are not usually an overly serious issue, but they can go on for a couple of days in some cases, so Gardiner will be day-to-day and he might get an extra day or two off, as we draw closer to the All-Star break next weekend.
In the game against the Coyotes, forward Andreas Johnsson was forced from the game with a concussion, as per the team, not to return to the ice. It will be a day or two before the team gets a full picture of how long he will be out for, but with the Leafs only playing one game this week, there won't be any hurry to get him back up in the lineup.
Troy's team is trying to hang around, staying as close as possible to the money teams, so his side can still be in reach after the second player swap. Missing out on a Gardiner game, maybe more, probably won't hurt his chances too badly, in fact, it could help improve his pick status. The Johnsson concussion is more bad news for Wilton's team, which already has a player note above in the Newsletter and was only 4 points clear of the Basement Dweller this week.