Are we all All-Star'd out at this point? I didn't think so. Okay, maybe some of you could be, but I'm certainly not. The All-Star Game is so much fun, a great escape from the grind of the regular season. Plus, it's a little bit of a mid-season vacation from doing all the statistics and blogging, cutting it down by a lot.
We don't kick off the resumption of the regular season until Tuesday, but I thought I would give you the recap of the short week as a bit of a primer. I can tell you one thing, the short week didn't come up short in stories, except maybe injuries and scratches.
Here ya go...
Yes, even in these short weeks, we might as well have ourselves a little bit of fun with the weekly honours, including Player of the Week. Amazingly, there was one standout player in the three days that there were games in the week, as a few teams did play a couple of games this week, giving ample time to those who really wanted a mention this year.
In Los Angeles, there were a couple of games played, to which the home team, the Kings, plucked out a couple of wins before the All-Star break, thanks in large part to Jonathan Quick, the goalie of record for both games. Well, not only did he win both games, he managed to pick up a shutout as well, earning him a pool-best 6 points in the week.
On Monday night, Quick made 34 stops against the visiting Bruins in his shutout win, while on Wednesday night, he concluded his weekly efforts with a 22-save performance over the Kings' division rival, the Sharks. Just like that, it was a 6-point week and he gets his name and picture published on the blog and everyone is happy.
The big week has now lifted the Los Angeles backstop into 11th place in pool scoring rankings with 55 points thus far, 5th among all goalies on the list at the moment. If you didn't think Quick was the real deal, finishing in 16th in 2010, his better ranking this year will likely get you really thinking about him for the playoff pool or the draft next year.
There may have only been three days of active games on the schedule, but there was definitely one team that really took advantage of the remaining games before the break. Dale B. picked up his Mover and Shaker nod of the season in Week Seventeen, thanks to 20 points in the short week. Granted, with the waiver draft order being decided after Week Seventeen's action, it may have not been the greatest of scenarios to move up the ladder three spots, like Dale did, going from 11th to 8th in a flash.
Dale was able to capitalize on Brad Boyes and Cam Ward each having a couple good games each, picking up 4 points, while Brendan Morrison, Thomas Vanek and Jimmy Howard each picked up a pair of points each as well. That's what you would call the right combination of players, scoring enough points at just the right time.
It's been a bit of a bumpy year for Dale B., but he's managed to keep himself in the middle of the standings for the bulk of the season. His current position of 8th place is his peak position this season, starting Week One in 8th, reaching that point again after Week Ten and then again now. With any luck, he can finally get some traction out of a good waiver draft pick or two and maybe start a climb into the money conversation in the last segment of the year.
Speaking of segment races, we only have one more week to go in the second segment, with action concluding at the end of Week Eighteen and the lead has since been increased to 7 points, between Kristy and Don over Don D.. The lead was 5 points at the end of last week, but 7 points is still very manageable for one week's worth of work. Kristy and Don currently have 236 points through eight weeks of the second segment, while Don D. has 229. Allan S. and Stuart G. are now long shots at 217 points, a 19-point difference, but it isn't out of the question, with a bad week and a great week meeting at the same time.
The waiver draft just can't come soon enough for Dale C.. A 3rd consecutive Basement Dweller nod, falling deeper into the depths of the basement, thanks to only 2 points from his already ice-cold team. Only Tomas Kaberle and Derek Morris were able to pick up points for Dale, as it continues to just 'not be his season, at all.' His first order of business is to move out the big injury to Derek Roy, which he did when this article was being written, taking Mikhail Grabovski in his stead. Even a Maple Leafs player will be enough to help his team, just a little.
I don't really think there is too much to be said here. It would be an utter miracle if Dale's team found its way into the third segment race with a couple of replacements, but normally cold players, like Alex Kovalev and Zach Bogosian, would have to revive some sort of spirit of a past season or two to make that at all possible.
Even with 32 players on your roster in the selection sheet pool, having only three days to play was not going to really cause a big stir... but it didn't stop our team on a mission, as Burc B.'s team finished its long climb and took top spot in the standings, taking the tie-break over Wes M., as both teams finished the week with 1,045 points a piece.
Burc really started his climb out of Week Eight, where he sat in 11th place, going up one position every week, except for Week Sixteen (where he went up two) and concluded in Week Seventeen at the top of the heap. In Week Eight, he was 50 points back of Wes, who led at the time, and clawed all the way up after making some trades and just found a way. Truly a great story for this pool, I must say.
The best three days in the pool didn't belong to Burc points-wise though, as Cheryl D. made another trip back up to the top of the heap, but only managed to stay in 11th place in the standings. Cheryl found 4 points from Roberto Luongo and Chris Pronger, while Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Shawn Horcoff and Erik Cole all had 3 points in the week. That's a solid return of points on some pretty good players in the pool. Cheryl still has four trades to use up and ten weeks left to make a difference. If Burc's story is any indication of what can happen, it might not be a bad time to use them.
Only two more teams joined the 1,000-point club in Week Seventeen, so now we have seven members in the club. I would imagine five more should be able to join after Week Eighteen, with a good chance that a few more might land the leap by the skin of their teeth.
Only a couple of trades were made on Monday and people have all of the All-Star weekend to make their decisions, plus an extra day on Monday, since puck drop next week isn't until Tuesday. Don't delay or procrastinate... you might forget altogether!
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
In what will act as a precursor to the always-popular Hockey Day in Canada, CBC will be broadcasting an early triple-header on the first Saturday of February. How very exciting! If there was ever any reason not to leave your television on a Saturday, or back-to-back Saturdays for that matter, it would be a tripleheader on CBC.
In the early game, the New York Rangers take their act to the Bell Centre, where the Montreal Canadiens will play host. Both teams have some serious playoff aspirations, more like aspirations of just making it to the playoffs, then figuring out the long run when they get there. After Week Seventeen in the regular season, the Rangers sit in 6th in the East, while the Habs are in 7th. This will be clawing over one team to get to the promised land. Leading this game in pool scoring going into Week Eighteen is Henrik Lundqvist, who has 60 points already this year.
In the regular 5pm MT game, it isn't quite the same story. Two teams who are currently sitting on the outside looking in on the Eastern Conference playoff picture will meet at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo. The Maple Leafs will travel down across the border to meet up with the Sabres, two teams also going in opposite directions at the end of Week Seventeen. The Leafs, losers of three straight games, will go up against a Sabres team that has won there last two... not counting the games that will be played leading up to this match. I don't think either team has a real shot at the playoffs, but that doesn't mean it won't be an entertaining game to watch. It should come as no surprise that Ryan Miller leads all players in this game in pool points going into the week, he has 48 points this season, well down from what we usually expect from him.
Finally, in the late game, the Western Conference gets a crack at the television, as two teams, surprising in where they stand in the standings face off for a chance to climb into the playoff picture. The Los Angeles Kings, who were touted as one of the favourites to win the Pacific Division, head into Calgary to take on the Flames, who are climbing their way out of the basement in the West to have a shot at the final playoff spot in the West. Going into Week Eighteen, they sit 11th (Kings) and 12th (Flames) and no less than two points out of 8th (Sharks). It is now super-crazy down at the bottom of the table in the West and this game should have a lot of meaning to it, which could lift the spirits of everyone on the ice. Leading all players going into this game in points is our current Player of the Week, so the picture of the 2nd place player in the race will go up... Anze Kopitar, who has 49 points this season.