Monday, March 17, 2008

Week Twenty-Five Newsletter

It looks as though the bulk of you are waiting on pins and needles for the Playoff Pool to get started. 5 of 7 votes were looking forward to it getting started, so I am happy to comply by Saturday, that the pool will go live then! The last minor details will be looked at during the week and by Saturday morning the sheets will be printed and access to the online playoff pool sheet will be made available to everyone. It should be yet another $500 first prize for the playoff pool and it'll only cost a cool $10 to select your team. It's pretty reasonable.

There's another poll running until Friday, asking which goalie should occupy the Red Wings box. This is more of a poll for your opinion, rather than what's actually going to happen. I am curious to see what everyone thinks about this one.

There was only one position swap in the middle of the standings, where the difference is only two points between three teams, so the moving & shaking was very minimal. So, we'll go back to the maximum amount of points, because there is a little bit better of a story there. The leader of the Draft, Stuart, padded his lead, which had been shaved away in past weeks, back up to 11 points. His 33-point week was tops in a mildly low-scoring week altogether. So, going into Week Twenty-Six, he'll have a little bit more of a cushion than the one point he started with at the beginning of Week Twenty-Five.

His big players in the week were Pavel Datsyuk (6 points), Cam Ward (6), Jochen Hecht (5), Derek Roy (5) and Vincent Lecavalier (4).

The real secret of Stuart's success this season is how healthy his team has been throughout the year. His team is in the Top 5 in both Games Played by his skaters (3rd - 815 GP) and Minutes Played by his goalies (5th -6,004). When you have a healthy team, the liklihood for points is that much greater... it's pretty simple. But his team is the only one that finishes in the Top 5 of both categories, which is mighty impressive.

On the Sheet, we had ourselves a pretty good mover with Ryan making a jump of three spots and back into the Top 10. Ryan moved from 11th to 8th in the week after a pretty good 60-point outing. Ryan has spent a good portion of the season in the Top 10 already, but he did fall down below a couple weeks ago, but now he's taken his spot back. He benefitted from the likes of Jarome Iginla (8 points), Kristian Huselius (5), Jason Spezza (5) and Derek Roy (5).

There were three teams in the Draft that finished with the week-low of 18 points. For two of these teams, it's their first week-low in points since the Week in London, where neither team had players playing in the opening set. The other had a Week Six low in points. Well, the only tie-breaker I can come up with is the team with the most zeros in this week's column of points. And the honour now goes to Don, with seven active zeros and 18 points this week. He had one player with 4 points and three others with 3, so if everyone else contributed a point, he would have been in pretty good shape for the week.

On the Basement side of the Sheet, it's become a bit of a mirror world for Stuart, who is falling out on a rapid pace at the moment. He was happily in the Top 10 on the Sheet, in striking distance of the money there as well, but he has now fallen down to 11th spot after a 44-point showing.

It was a clear-cut winner of the honour this week and it was done in the same quiet fashion that accumulation of points has been throughout the year.

It's been a very good year for Jarome Iginla (Aaron) when it comes to his own personal totals. He should be able to hit 50 goals this season, which never looks bad on a guy's resume. But in Week Twenty-Five, he was able to put together 8 points and earn himself his first PotW honour of the season.

On Monday, the Flames hosted the Blues and shelled them for seven goals in a 7-3 win and Iggy managed a goal and 2 assists in that contest. Then the Flames started a road trip in Washington on Wednesday, where they had lost 3-2, but Iginla still managed a goal and an assist. Next stop on the road trip was Atlanta. That was where they blew an early 3-0 lead to lose 6-4, but still Iginla managed to pot a couple of goals. Finally, on Sunday, they were in Chicago for a 4-2 win and the captain tallied one of the goals in that game. So, in a week where the team was .500, Iginla still managed 5 goals and 3 assists in the week.

Iginla now stands 3rd in league scoring with 87 points and sits 5th in pool scoring, with a couple of goalies in between. A very productive season and a great pick-up in the 8th spot in the original draft.

There really doesn't seem to be anyone any colder than Henrik (Chris) and Daniel Sedin (Don) at the moment. As painful as it is to say, they really haven't done very well over the past few weeks. Henrik has gone four games without a point, while Daniel has gone five. Daniel hasn't scored a goal in 12 games, while Henrik has an empty netter in that same time frame. It's a pretty hard time for the twins at the moment and the Canucks will need them to find their stride again before it gets too close to the playoffs.

Other News and Notes

It's becoming a common occurance now that Peter Schaefer (Benson) had to pack his pillow and blanket and sleep in the doghouse, and it rang true this past week. Schaefer didn't dress over the weekend for the Bruins, because of his lack of production. Before being scratched for the weekend, Schaefer had only registered one goal in his last six games.

The Hurricanes are playing a whole bunch of regular AHL players due to their injuries and on Sunday, Matt Cullen (Don) was scratched for yet another one. Cullen had been battling injuries since his waiver draft pick-up, which has hurt Don and his push for a reasonable finish.

The Avalanche sat Adam Foote (Box 10) to rest his ailing hip injury that has been bothering him over the last couple weeks on Saturday night. The Avalanche defense is incredibly deep, even without Foote in the line-up, so there is a good chance that Foote may see some extra time in the press box to make sure he is 100% for the playoff run.

Defenseman Brett Lebda (Box 11) was the man on the outside looking in on the game against Columbus on Sunday. Now that the Red Wings defenders are healthy, there looks to be a solid rotation between players to save them for the playoffs.

The Panthers missed defenseman Bryan Allen (Box 23) on Sunday because of a hand injury. Allen injured his hand on Friday when the Panthers took on the Rangers and may have a few more games to wait before he can re-join the line-up.

The Devils are having their share of problems with consistency on the blueline this season. Colin White (Box 23) missed a good portion of the beginning of the season already due to injury and now he's out on a day-to-day basis with what is called an upper-body injury. He wasn't very popular on the Sheet because of his injury, so it won't be a big loss to the pools right now.

The Islander will debut one of their hot young players on Tuesday night when Kyle Okposo (non-pool) takes to the ice. Okposo skipped the second half of his NCAA season to join the Islanders organization and played for their minor league affiliate in Bridgeport for the last couple months. The Islanders will host the Leafs on Tuesday, which won't be covered out here in the West, but is available through satellite or digital stations.

Finally, the second game in a Penguin uniform for Marian Hossa (Dale C.) was played on Sunday. He returned to the line-up for a big 7-1 rout of the Flyers and played along with Pascal Dupuis (non-pool) and Jordan Staal (Box 20). Hossa also had his first goal with the team in the game.

Already without their captain, the Leafs lost their second-highest scoring player on Saturday night in Nikloai Antropov (Ryan). Antropov suffered a knee injury against the Sabres and didn't return to the game after only 3 minutes of ice-time.

An epic Northwest Division battle will be the focus out here in the West when it comes time for the late game of the HNIC tripleheader. The Wild will be in Calgary to face off against the Flames, in what could be a battle for the division lead. How very exciting!

In the early game at 1pm, the Avalanche will take on the surging Oilers in another Northwest Division battle. The Oilers have almost worked themselves up to a playoff spot when they were all but out of it due to injuries. The Avalanche have most of their injuries all healed up, so they should be ready to come and play on Saturday afternoon. This has the makings of a pretty wide open hockey game.

On the 5pm game, it will be the Battle of Ontario, as the Leafs head to Ottawa to take on the Senators. The Leafs are still on the cusp of elimination, so in all likelihood, they should be out of it by the time they head to Scotiabank Place, but you never know. The Sens are still in it for the Eastern Conference lead, so that's what they'll be fighting towards in that game.

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