Cue the haunting music! We're only a week away from the end of the regular season. This will be the last kick at the can for all of those trying to track down some money in both pools, some tracking down more money than others, but we do have some pretty good races here down the stretch.
We'll start at the Draft, were the lead is up to 22, but the race for second and third are in full flight. The race for second is only one point, as Peter and John B. have a race to the bitter end for some bigger money, while Benson sits 10 points out, still doable, and Marcus is only 13 points out, which may need a minor miracle down the stretch. Boy, oh boy, this is sure good stuff.
On the Sheet, it's the top six that pay out and even the lead isn't safe heading into the final week. The lead for Dale C. over Wes is only 10 points... definitely doable. Paul is chasing down Wes and needs 22 points to catch him, which is somewhat improbable, but not out of the question. 24 points separates Caterina from Paul, while 10 points separates Mike E. from Caterina. Jeremy sits in sixth, 2 points behind Mike and 2 points above Tim. There is plenty of potential for movement this week and I can't wait to see what the end looks like there.
This has certainly been one of the best seasons ever in both pools, as there hasn't been a lot of separation through the year and there has been plenty of competition. Don't forget... we've also got the Playoff Pool sheets ready and they have been circulating around. I am hoping to have the online sheet up this week, for easy entry into the pool.
The poll question was pretty straight-forward last week, which team in the tight Western Conference race would you prefer seeing in the playoffs and only the bottom teams were selected, just to make it interesting. I believe I said last week that I thought this was going to be a bit of a loaded question and the answer was much of what I expected. 50% of those who voted (12) wanted to see Edmonton make the playoffs. Unfortunately for those six voters, it does look rather unlikely that the Oilers are going to make the playoffs, as they need four points in their last three games and they need Nashville, St. Louis and Minnesota to all miss out on winning in their last games of the season. The likelihood isn't quite there.
With only a week to go in the season, who is going to take the pool scoring title this season? That will be this week's question and there are only a few answers to choose from. Evgeni Malkin, who comes into the week with the lead at 108 points, Alexander Ovechkin, who trails by two at 106 points, or the two players sitting at 99 points a piece in the pool, Sidney Crosby or Miikka Kiprusoff. Have your say...
Well, it's pretty easy to say, but now is a good time to be peaking, when you held a slight lead in the pool and you could open it up to a pretty big lead going into the last week of the season. That's what Clayton managed to do in Week Twenty-Seven, being one of only two teams in the pool to hit the 30-point mark in a somewhat below-average scoring week. Clayton topped the second place team in the week by 8 points and opened his lead up from 8 points to 22, which could very well be impossible to beat. I guess I can't say impossible, but it is very improbable, as his team has averaged 34 points a week since the last Waiver Draft, which is tops in the pool.
Clayton managed to get away with a couple zeroes on his weekly total in the week, but had great production from Alex Kovalev, who finished off the week with 9 points and is in the running for Player of the Week this week. Find out below to see if he won. Zach Parise and Joe Thornton each finished off the week with 4 points a piece, while four others each registered 3 points a piece in the week as well. As of right now, his team is healthy, which has been a huge contributing factor to some late season success.
For his team's efforts, Clayton comes away with a Matt Stajan jersey patch card, but the big prize is for the final week of the season. The Darryl Sittler jersey patch card is a gem in the Upper Deck Masterpieces set, as it's a real cool looking card. This card was a pretty good deal on eBay, getting it for under $10, but it should be a card that'll go for about $40, so it'll be a good card to come away with. Good luck, everyone!
A big turn of events on the Sheet, as our M&S of Week Twenty-Seven has put himself into striking distance of a money position after a big 74-point week. Chris M. moved up five spots from 13th to 8th spot, now only sitting 22 points out of 6th place, which is a distance achievable in one week in this competition. Chris didn't have the most points in the week, he fell short of that by about 3 points, but his movement was tops and it created a little bit of a buzz to start the final week of the season. Chris also has four trades left this year, which he could definitely use to his advantage, if he was paying any attention at all. Having a good week for Chris in Week Twenty-Seven was Nikolai Khabibulin (8 points), Sam Gagner (5) and numerous others with 4 and 3 points each. It really wasn't a big scoring week at all, but consistency throughout a line-up is what you want on a week like this. The tension mounts for those money spots down the stretch.
Injuries are the scourge to any team in the Draft and it really hasn't been Dale B.'s year or even last few weeks, for that matter. Now it has been back-to-back weeks in the basement and he only sits 22 points ahead of Grant for last spot in the Draft, where Grant actually managed to make up 11 points in Week Twenty-Seven. Dale was hit by injuries to Adrian Aucoin, Paul Statsny, Patrick Marleau and Tomas Kaberle of late, which is really hard to recover from, no matter which season you're talking about. This was the main cause of only getting 13 points in the week and taking this paragraph to himself again and the hockey pool.
It was a two-horse race down the stretch for the Player of the Week, between Alex Kovalev and Ryan Getzlaf and it was a photo finish to see who the winner was. Both players had 9 points to finish off the week, but with more goals and in less games, the PoW for Week Twenty-Seven is... Alex Kovalev.
Kovalev finished the week, playing in all three scheduled games for the Canadiens, helping to win them all. Tuesday, at home to Chicago, Kovalev had a goal and an assist in the 4-1 win. Thursday, on Long Island, Kovalev registered 3 assists in a 5-1 win over the Islanders. Finally, on Saturday, in Toronto, Kovalev had a goal and 3 assists in a 6-2 win over the Maple Leafs. That's some pretty solid production from a player that the Habs really needed to start firing, if they are to make the playoffs this week. It is about getting hot at the right time for the Canadiens.
Going cold at an inopportune time is never what a team wants out of their top players, especially in the middle of a tight playoff race. The Blue Jackets are fighting for their playoff lives, although, they are in an advantageous position at the moment. Week Twenty-Seven did see the disappearance of Kristian Huselius from the score sheet in the first part of the week and it didn't help that he suffered an upper body injury over the weekend and didn't play on Sunday. The Blue Jackets will need him to pick up his game in the last week, if he will dress for it, which John B. sure hopes he does, as he needs him as well to stay in a money spot.
Other News and Notes
The Bruins decided to sit Aaron Ward on Saturday, due to an undisclosed injury. The coaching staff hinted that it wasn't a major injury and that he's just day-to-day right now. The Box 29 defender has been off and on the list a few times this season, between injuries and scratches. There is also some suggestion that Dennis Wideman may miss a game or two to help what could be a lower body injury. Now that the Bruins have clinched the East, they may want to give Wideman some maintenance days to be ready for the playoffs.
Well, the recall of Nikita Filatov has become somewhat of a backhanded compliment. The Blue Jackets farm team is in the middle of a playoff race, thanks in part to Filatov, but the Blue Jackets decided to recall the talented Russian, despite not having any plans to actually dress him in a game. This has disappointed many of the farm team's staff and fan base and maybe it should. Filatov doesn't have any fantasy value in the last week of the season, if the Blue Jackets can help it. Also sitting out on Sunday night was Kristian Huselius, who took a puck to the chin on Saturday, which required 22 stitches. The team is saying that he suffered an upper body injury, which was the reason he missed Sunday's game. It would be sad to think it was only stitches that kept him out, but there could be a broken jaw somewhere in that story, that just isn't being reported about.
The Blackhawks are sighing some relieving breaths, as Patrick Sharp's lower body injury isn't too serious, but they are going to let him rest for a couple of games before the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs. Sharp was involved in a collision against Nashville, where he sustained his lower body injury. He sat out on Sunday against the Blue Jackets and will likely miss Tuesday's game as well. The team does expect him to play later in the week though.
The second chance for the Kostitsyn boys has not paid off for them at all, as both brothers were healthy scratches against the Leafs on Saturday. Andrei Kostitsyn joined his brother, Sergei, in the press box after some very poor performances through the week and now he had a chance to sit and think about it. It will be interesting to see how they pan out come playoff time, if they are even in the playoffs.
Well, there isn't much fantasy value here, but Niclas Havelid did not play on Saturday against the Sabres due to some lower body soreness. It sounds like it was more of a maintenance game before the playoffs are to start, which is rather helpful, since we're just over a week away. I would expect to see Havelid in one or two more games before the playoffs start.
A knee-on-knee collision with Milan Lucic was enough for Nik Antropov to leave the early game on Saturday afternoon. The collision looked to be a square hit on the knee cap, but Antropov was skating and walking off under his own power. The severity of the injury won't likely be disclosed until Monday afternoon. The Rangers don't play again until Tuesday, when they take on Montreal.
On Saturday night, the Leafs coaching staff decided to scratch Box 5 forward, Lee Stempniak, likely to make room for one of their younger kids against the Canadiens. Stempniak was acquired by the Leafs earlier in the year from the Blues and really hasn't made a huge impact with the team. The team did dress Christian Hanson for a second game on Saturday night.
Getting back to the rigors of everyday work in the NHL is seemingly a long process for some defensemen, including Brian Pothier of the Capitals. Pothier was scratched from the line-up for the team's game against the Thrashers on Sunday, likely to get a little extra rest before the long playoff stretch. Pothier had missed the bulk of the season with his post-concussion symptoms and has been working his way back to 100% of late.
Click here to see an updated injury page.
Hockey Night in Canada
Well, this is the beginning of the end for the regular season, as we're coming upon the final segment of Hockey Night in Canada for the 2008/'09 season and it's remarkably not going to be a tripleheader! What the hell, right? Nevertheless, we should be in for a good night of hockey, especially if the affected playoff races are still on the go for the certain teams being showcased on Saturday. There are two games in the split network, Ottawa visiting Toronto, where there is no playoff implications, while Pittsburgh visits Montreal, where there are two teams likely still jockeying for position. Which game does everyone want to see? Yeah, how about the playoff one? I thought so. In the late game, the Oilers have a still have a chance of making the playoffs after beating Vancouver on Saturday night, but they will have to go on and beat Los Angeles on Tuesday and Calgary on Friday, before they face Calgary, in Calgary on Saturday night. You never know, this game may only have a factor in who is going to win the Northwest Division title. Still, it's pretty exciting.