The end of December brings us very close to the mid-point of the hockey season. The 16.5 point lead The Comish had enjoyed has now shrunk to only 11.5 points. Third and fourth place have both closed the gap and now sit 19 and 28.5 points back of the lead. In December, The Comish lost 4.5 points overall, while the very active Notch gained 8.5 points during the month. The biggest point gain this month was JP (JaspersRink.com) with a whopping 19.5 points, while moving from 6th to 4th place. The biggest mover was McKeen’s Magic jumping from second last to 6th place, while gaining a solid ten points overall.
As of December 31, The Comish held the lead in five of the ten categories and was tied for first in another. The wacky plus/minus category saw Angus gain an incredible plus-57 in December. Duke added plus-46 to his total, while The Ultimate SC had the worst month with a minus-17. The Comish had a cold month with a big drop of minus-11.
Many teams are still over their projected games at centre. JP was an incredible plus-43 projected games over the maximum, while The Comish (+22), Angus (+23) and Third Degree Burns (+30) were all well above their projected limits. Notch smartly dropped from 18 over to only five games over at centre.
At RW, Third Degree Burns is an incredible 40 games under. On defence, only two teams are over their projected maximum games played. Duke has the most defence games at hand, sitting at an absurd minus-54.
In goaltending, only three teams are above their projected maximums, while Duke is 23 games under.
Mired deep in the basement, the fate of prospects guru Mr Bugg seems all but sealed. The second last position and relegation to the Pro League looks like it will be hotly contested. At the end of December, three teams were in contention for the last relegation spot (11th); The Ultimate SC, Sticks&Stones and the Legion of Dobber.
Dobber has explained in the forum that his goaltending is a large part of the reason why he is so far down in the standings. Just for fun, I took away the points for goaltending and sure enough, Dobber would be in 6th place. You simply can’t afford to have both of your goaltenders do poorly in a pool where they account for forty percent of your points. Dobber has by no means given up this season, his 17 free agent transactions since the end of November attest to that. Notch was again the most active, racking up 19 moves for a total of 51 on the season.
Key players that were plucked from the waiver wire/free agent pool in late November and December:
The Comish snagged both Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Scott Niedermayer off waivers. Bouchard has scored 13 points while on The Comish’s roster. Niedermayer was dropped 25 November by JP, only 11 days before he would announce his return. In JP’s defence, the player he picked up has done very well. Rob Blake has recorded ten points, was a plus-3, had 52 penalty minutes and recorded 51 shots on goal for JP. Compare that to the four points, four penalty minutes and 18 shots on goal that Niedermayer has since he came back. The same day, JP added Adrian Aucoin, who has notched 12 points and has added plus-6 to JP’s bottom line.
The additions of “defenseman” Dustin Byfuglien (nine points) and Jiri Hudler (11 points) have been nice additions for the Legion of Dobber. Centre Nicklas Backstrom and Maxim Afinogenov have given Dobber a boost of nine and five points respectively.
Third Degree Burns has received 11 points since picking up Todd White 23 November. Aaron Voros has given Burnsy seven points and 38 penalty minutes.
Lanky’s pick up of Ty Conklin on New Year’s Eve has paid off with three wins, 0.97 goals against average, 0.972 save percentage and one shutout.