As we begin Week Eighteen, we take a look at the All-Star Weekend, maybe we saw a few players that are available for this week's Waiver Draft and there is a good chance their stock rose a little bit. Especially in the YoungStars Game.
The YoungStars Game had 11 players that are available for the second Waiver Draft and it was Blake Wheeler who led the all players with 5 points in the game, which made him MVP of the event. Wheeler currently ranks 11th amongst available forwards with 14 goals and 16 assists in 47 games with the Bruins and he should be considered one of the more valuable commodities on a high scoring Bruins team.
The best player actually taken in the Draft already was Steven Stamkos, who finished the game with 2 goals and an assist, which gave Chris the lead in points heading into Sunday's action.
Not having a real effect on the points system of the whole weekend, we did see the Skill Competition, which was quite entertaining, if I do say so myself. I was quite pleased to see some of the YoungStars compete, which opened up the field for some broader competition. Andrew Cogliano, one of those YoungStars, won the Fastest Skater Competition. Winning the Breakaway Challenge, by receiving the most text votes, was Alexander Ovechkin, who successfully defended his title. The accuracy shooting competition came down to Evgeni Malkin and Dany Heatley, who both went 4-for-4 in the preliminary round, but it was Malkin who won the competition after going 3-for-4 in the tie-breaker. Zdeno Chara finally got around to beating Al Iafrate's record in the Hardest Shot Competition, by hitting a puck 105.4 mph, winning the competition quite handily. Finally, the Elimination Shootout saw every player shoot on four of the goalies and lasting seven rounds to win the competition was Shane Doan of the Coyotes. He came down to the end with Marc Savard for a couple rounds, which made for some exciting competition. All in all, it was an entertaining evening.
As for the All-Star Game itself, Chris opened up an early lead in the YoungStars game, but he didn't have any players taking part in the big game itself. Since it was a 12-11 romp in the end, there was no way Chris was going to make it through to the end. In the end, it was Alexei Kovalev stealing the show in Montreal, scoring 2 goals and an assist in regulation time and scoring the game-winning goal in the shootout to put the East on top. That helped pave the way for Clayton to win his second straight All-Star Game (for fun) pool, as he did carry five players into the game.
Clayton - 9 points (4G, 5A)
Derek - 8 points (5G, 3A)
Benson - 7 points (3G, 4A)
Dale B. - 7 points (2G, 5A)
Ryan - 6 points (2G, 4A)
Well, there we have it. Another All-Star Game in the books. Now we can concentrate on the next Waiver Draft, which has already begun. The next big non-game NHL event will be the trade deadline, which ends on March 4, 2009. The trade deadline will be a gooder this year, if all the rumours have any indication.
I was actually quite pleased to see it was a dead-heat in the voting for this past week's poll of what you like the most about All-Star Weekend. I suppose I like the whole weekend, especially since they deprive me of hockey for a number of days before the festivities start. Then any hockey is just about good hockey. My favourite part is the Skills Competition, just because it does feature argument-solving results, like who has the hardest shot or who is the fastest skater. Out of the 13 votes, however, 4 said the game itself, 4 said the Skills, 2 prefer the YoungStars game and 3 just like the idea that their favourite team gets rested. I suppose that can't go for the entire team, as they do try to have representation from every team. Nevertheless, action starts again on Tuesday and I'm sure we're all happy about that.
For this week's poll, I thought I'd ask if you, 'what would you say to Peter Forsberg, in regards to returning to the NHL?'
It was a pretty minimal week with only 24 games in total over the first three days of the week, but that was all before the All-Star Break. Amazingly, with 24 skater games and a pair of goaltending starts, Peter managed to pick up 24 points in the week, giving him the Mover & Shaker designation. The good news for Peter doesn't stop there either, as he moved himself up into second place in the Draft with his monster week, eclipsing three teams to reach that plateau. This is the highest ranking that Peter has hit this season, as his previous high was third place, closer to mid-season. Now, that he's in second, he can look at closing the 30-point gap between himself and first place.
Peter earned his 24 points by getting good weeks from Marek Zidlicky (5 points), Ales Hemsky (4), Patrik Elias (3) and Drew Doughty (3). There were a few zeros on his team, but a couple of the were due to injury and may be looked at when we commence with the second Waiver Draft this week. It's hard to believe that he could improve on the team that has jumped him into second place this season.
For his second weekly win this season, Peter has earned himself a Mikko Koivu OPC retro card, which begins our retro card giveaway as weekly prizes. They are pretty neat cards and next week, we'll have a Jarome Iginla retro card to give away with yet another short week, commencing on Wednesday next week. Week Eighteen, the last week of having poor players, has 44 games to be played, which is still 20 more than Week Seventeen, but still not a lot. Leading the pack with the most number of skater games next week is Derek, with 38.
Topping out the week on the Sheet saw three different teams with 36 points and this week's tie-breaker is an arbitrary decision... so our Mover & Shaker for Week Seventeen on the Sheet is Murray. Murray joined the top ten in Week Seventeen, thanks to his great week in the pool and he is in great shape to finish in the money this season. So far this season, Murray has only made 4 trades on his team, which has helped him maximize his performance, but he could still make three more to help him get into the money in the back half of the season. Having a great week for Murray was Mikko Koivu (5 points), Mike Smith (4) and Drew Doughty (3). Seeing as though it was a pretty quiet week on the schedule, it should come as no surprise that there were 14 players on his team with no points, but we'll have to see how bad it is for our Basement Dweller.
Of course, with the short week, it's at least a reasonable excuse for not picking up a lot of points in the week. From first to worst in a matter of a week was Derek, as he only managed 5 points in Week Seventeen. With that poor week, Derek couldn't make up any ground on 9th place, keeping himself in 10, actually losing 6 points in the process, while 11th place gained 6 points on him, closing the gap to only 3 points. Thankfully, as it was pointed out in the M&S, Derek does lead the pool with 38 skater games to be played next week, so he can make up some ground there. Only four players managed to get him points in the week, Dwayne Roloson (2 points), Jussi Jokinen (1), Evgeni Malkin (1) and Devin Setoguchi (1). Derek does have some quality dropping to do this week, as he can get rid of Pascal Leclaire, who is not going to return this season and likely Mike Fisher, who hasn't been effective at all in Ottawa.
The Basement Dweller for the Sheet in the All-Star shortened week was Derek B., who finished with a week-low, 14 points, and moved down two spots in the standings to 37th position. Derek has yet to make any trades this season, which is likely leading to his Basement Dwelling position. His team saw 23 players without a point in the week, some of which are due to some of the long-term injuries. With only eleven weeks to go in the season, it doesn't seem very likely that'll make any deals to help his team out.
I thought that the race for Player of the Week would have been closer among all players with the lack of games in the week, but there were three players that did pull away from the pack, but one was just one point better than the other two and yes, it is a goaltender again. One of these days, I sure would like to add a defenseman to this list, but it's a little more difficult. This week, it is Cam Ward who earns the honour, as he finished with 6 points through Week Seventeen.
Ward, a Draft pick of Wes', helped the Hurricanes to two wins, including a shutout, and got them into the eighth and final playoff spot in the East before the break. Ward only allowed one goal in two games, as he shutout the Leafs on Monday in Toronto and beat the Penguins, 2-1, on Tuesday, both games being on the road. He has brought his overall record to 18-14-3, including 2 shutouts, which brings his pool points total to 40.
Well, I'll tell you who is cold lately... Dan Girardi of the Rangers. This guy went off to such a torrid start to the season, having 14 points in the first seven weeks of the season. Since then, he's had 2 points in the last ten weeks, 1 point in his last 5 weeks. How rubbish is that? With so much potential thought to be realized in the first part of the season, it's rather disappointing to see his numbers dwindle to next to nothing. That's the art of being a cold player, I guess. There is a certain possibility that Clayton will drop him this week in the Waiver Draft.
Other News and Notes
The Anaheim Ducks updated the status of a few of their injured players, but it isn't necessarily good news, just before the All-Star Break. Teemu Selanne and Todd Marchant, both players active pool members, are both expected to remain inactive for an undefined period of time after the break. Selanne, out with a leg injury and Marchant is out with a broken finger. Selanne is the only one who is an active Draft player, sitting and waiting on Chris' team, may be a good candidate for a drop this week.
If you were selected to go to the All-Star Game, you probably should go, unless you physically can't. That's the intention that the NHL has enforced against Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom, as they are both going to miss Tuesday's game against Columbus, due to a 1-game suspension imposed by the league. Both players didn't even show up for the media blitz, which apparently will save Sidney Crosby from his 1-game suspension after being told to skip the on-ice festivities, due to soreness in his knee.
We've got an injury update for the Canadiens here today. Alex Tanguay, a Grant Draft pick, is supposedly on schedule for a mid-February return from his should injury, as is Mathieu Dandenault from his broken arm. Christopher Higgins is supposedly close to returning for the Canadiens as well, as his shoulder injury has been healing well.
It looks like Doug Weight will likely return to the Islanders' line-up next week, after he's been out since the beginning of Week Fifteen. Weight was a Waiver Draft pick-up for Dennis, who only managed to see 13 games and 10 points from him since being picked up. A rather disappointing injury to have occurred when Dennis has been down so low. He may not want to drop him when his turn comes around though this week.
It looks like the timetable for Andy McDonald's return is on-track, as his eight weeks are pretty much up and he's out skating, making his return from a broken ankle. He was dropped in the first Waiver Draft and is available in the second, so he might have to be on your watch list for next week.
Click here to see an updated injury page.
Hockey Night in Canada
Now that the All-Star festivities are over with, we have a regular Hockey Night In Canada to look forward. Well, it's not quite a regular one, as we have another triple header on our hands. Hooray! In the early game (Noon MT), the Kings travel to Montreal to take on the Habs. The Kings haven't exactly improved greatly this season, while the Canadiens are enjoying a promising 100th anniversary season. At 5pm MT, we see the beginning of the regular telecast with another match-up between the Penguins and Leafs in Toronto. It's one of the more favourite match-ups that CBC likes to bring us and we can all be sure they'll draw up the return of Sidney Crosby, yet again. Finally, in the late game, we have a Northwest Division battle as the Minnesota Wild are in Vancouver to take on the Canucks. This has the billing of a solid defensive battle between two above-average goaltenders, including All-Star, Roberto Luongo.