Oh boy, oh boy! We're now down to the final two weeks of the season and things couldn't be more exciting. The Sheet pool's top six isn't quite set, there is still some movement left there to do before it's all said and done. That's exactly what we want when we come down to the nitty gritty, eh? In the Draft, we have six (maybe seven) teams still in the running for the money, which has made for the tightest race I think I've seen in my pools to date. I'm very excited about that, since it is much more exciting to get a crack at money when you're in fourth or fifth down the stretch. Nobody has to settle quite yet.
I am really hoping that the Playoff Pool will be somewhat similar of a race, but that one is less likely, as the intricacies of that pool is very dependant on how well you pick who is going to the finals. Will it be the favourites down the stretch or will it be a Cinderella story for a team in one conference. Well, good news, the Playoff Pool should be available some time this week, as teams start to filter their way in or out, it should become a lot easier to settle those questions. Stay tuned!
This past week, I had asked you who you would like to take if you had the first overall pick in next season's Draft and it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Alexander Ovechkin was the clear choice, taking 8 of the 13 votes cast. Ovechkin finishes the week with 100 points, but he isn't the best player this year, as Evgeni Malkin finished the week with 107 points and only one vote in the poll. Getting two votes a piece, Jarome Iginla and Pavel Datsyuk got some consideration in the poll. Iginla has 84 points in 75 games this season and Datsyuk has 92 in 75.
With two weeks to go and races looking very tight, the questions are out there as to who is going to make it into the playoffs. So, let's do a playoff race question. Which of the following Western Conference teams do you want to see in the playoffs? It might be a bit of a loaded question, but I'm looking for votes, people! Nashville, St. Louis, Edmonton, Anaheim or Minnesota are your choices.
We had two teams really in the running for the Mover & Shaker this past week, each of them cracked the 40-point barrier and they were really pacing themselves well to even break the weekly record, but only one managed to do it, thanks to a big effort in Chicago by the Canucks. John P. took our weekly award, thanks to a record week of 47 points. Thanks to that record week, John can now see light at the end of the tunnel and now has a slight possibility for a money spot, now that he is only one point behind Jeremy in 7th spot. This may have earned John a spot on the daily preview, especially if his team can do this same sort of production for another two weeks.
John saw a lot of good production from a number of players, the most notable being, Henrik Sedin (9 points), Daniel Sedin (8), Patrik Berglund (7) and Roberto Luongo (6). Two of his active players did finish with zero points, but that really didn't seem to matter at the end of the week
This is John's third M&S award of the season and his second one in the last seven weeks. For his team's win this week, he has earned himself a Zach Bogosian rookie card from this year's Upper Deck set. Congratulations on the win, but as a Leafs fan, I'm sure he would be disappointed to know that this week's prize is a Matt Stajan jersey patch card. Also, for the last week of the season, we have a Darryl Sittler jersey patch card, which is the most expensive card of the bunch this year, so hope that your team finishes off with a bang.
On the Sheet this week, Roopi was our M&S, scoring a week-high, 74 points and moved up three positions, from 39th to 36th. At this point in the season, it's cool to get yourself a M&S award, especially when you're not really in the running for the money. It's the small victories that make the season a little more fun, don't you think? In Week Twenty-Six, Roopi had good contributions from Alex Tanguay (8 points), Corey Perry (6), Alex Ovechkin (6), Marc-Andre Fleury (6) and Martin Havlat (5). Other than Ovechkin, it really wasn't a big production week for the most popular players in the pool, likely one of the biggest reasons why a bottom team picked up the honour this week.
It was another tough week for Dale B. and his team, which hasn't at all found any luck this season. This week, he only managed to find 17 points out of the weekly work and that just won't do. You know it's been a tough year when your top player only has 70 points this season. Through injuries and extended cold spells, Dale has not had the best of luck anywhere this season. That is the way it goes some years, that's for sure. There really isn't much more that needs to be said here.
Taking our M&S of the Sheet's spot in the Standings was our Basement Dweller, Mitch, who finished the week in 39th spot, thanks to a 38-point week, the pool-low. Mitch moved down one spot to get to 39th, an average spot of where he's been hovering for the bulk of the season. Mitch has seen a high of 35th spot and a low of 41st in the past number of weeks and that's likely where he'll end up with only two weeks left.
Well, if you couldn't tell from the M&S award this week, it was a great week for the Sedin twins, who combined for 17 points in the week. Henrik Sedin was the one leading the way, however, with 9 points and earns himself the Player of the Week award, although with both of them doing so well, they could have shared the award, but that's not how we'll roll around here.
The Canucks were right in the middle of a six game road trip in Week Twenty-Six, so managing 9 points while traveling is also quite impressive. On Tuesday night in Dallas, the Canucks beat the Stars 5-2, Henrik scoring a pair and adding an assist. Thursday, the Canucks lost to St. Louis 4-2, but Henrik managed to tally an assist in the game. The Canucks then moved over to Colorado for a 4-1 win, there was a goal and an assist for Henrik. Finally, in Chicago on Wednesday, Henrik notched 3 assists in a 4-0 win. The Sedins have been quite hot of late, ever since Alex Burrows moved onto their line a few weeks ago.
Word on the street is that Brian Campbell is in the doghouse in Chicago and if you were to have a quick look at his numbers, you can see why. Campbell hasn't been the offensive force that he was signed on to be, only tallying 46 points this season, not even in the top ten of defensemen scoring. He also owns a -3 rating this season, on a pretty good offensive team. The Blackhawks will be in desperate need of him getting his act together before the playoffs start.
Other News and Notes
Well, it should come as no surprise that now that Ryan Miller is back in the net for the Sabres, that Mikael Tellqvist is now the odd-man out in the crease, as Patrick Lalime has earned his back-up spot. Maxim Afinogenov was also a healthy scratch on Saturday night as well, as he hasn't been getting along with the coaching staff of late. I am beginning to wonder if we'll see either player in the line-up here in the last couple weeks.
Rostislav Klesla left Saturday's game against the Blues in the third period with an undisclosed injury and he wasn't able to play in the second half of the home-and-home series, which the Blue Jackets fail to win a game in. Figuring back in the line-up on Sunday was Christian Backman, who was a healthy scratch in a number of previous games.
The Avalanche had a lot of movement in their line-up on Sunday night against the Ducks in Anaheim and it didn't look like much of it helped, as they lost 4-1. Ruslan Salei was out of the line-up due to a knee injury, while Wojtek Wolski was out of the line-up for the Avalanche with a flu bug. Inserted to the line-up was Marek Svatos and Darcy Tucker, who both returned from injury.
The Red Wings have had some troubles over the past couple weeks and a groin injury to Brian Rafalski wasn't helping as the Nashville Predators took it to them on Sunday. Rafalski did not practice with the team on Saturday and didn't dress on Sunday, so there is some wonder if the injury is a little more serious than not. If the injury is more severe, then a post should follow up the newsletter.
The Minnesota Wild are clinging on to some playoff hope and players are coming in and out of the line-up on a regular basis. The weekend saw Pierre-Marc Bouchard out of the line-up in Alberta because of the flu, while Kurtis Foster didn't dress in the second game, likely due to rest, but they did see the return of Mikko Koivu to the line-up, which is good news for Jeremy in the Draft, who is pinning his hopes with the Wild.
The Predators may have lost the services of Martin Erat for a period of time after the Czech forward took a Shea Weber slapshot in a leg and had to be helped off the ice. The extent of the injury was not divulged after the game and we may have a important update to Peter's last two weeks, as Erat has been one of his hottest players over the past week.
The Coyotes continued to rest some of their young players down the stretch, as they have played themselves out of the playoff race. Mikael Boedker was the man out of the line-up for the Coyotes on Saturday night against the Sharks. The Box 9 forward will likely be back in the line-up for the Coyotes next game against Dallas on Monday night.
The Sharks are now experiencing some injury concerns as they head down the stretch and into the playoffs. On Saturday night against Phoenix, the team was already without Jonathan Cheechoo, thanks to a lower body injury, which is considered day-to-day. During the game, the Sharks lost the services of Patrick Marleau to another lower body injury and he isn't on the plane as the Sharks leave on their new road trip. The Sharks open up their trip in Calgary on Monday night.
Well, Jannik Hansen did finally make a return to the Canucks' line-up this week, but he found himself back in the press box when the team took on the Blackhawks on Sunday night. The Box 9 forward may not figure back into the line-up much down the stretch, as chemistry is really coming together without him.
Click here to see an updated injury page.
Hockey Night in Canada
It's the second to last Hockey Night in Canada in the regular season and we are in for a good one. We've got two games that have spoiler implications as a possibility in the early game, as the Maple Leafs are looking to give the Canadiens a hard time in Toronto, while the Senators are going to try and provide a speed bump in the Flyers run for the Atlantic Division title. The Habs and Leafs could have a bigger implication, as the Habs are trying to remain in the race for the post-season. In the second half of the doubleheader, the Canucks are in Edmonton to take on the Oilers, who are also trying to work their way into the playoffs. The Canucks have their eyes on the Northwest Division title, so the Oilers could play spoilers with a win too. Three good games available, three spoilers on the ice. Love it.