This season is just flying by isn't it? We are now through 15 of 27 weeks in the year, coming up quickly on the All-Star Break and the Heritage Classic, then into the real stretch run of the season. How very exciting. Week Sixteen will be the last full week of action before the All-Star Break, which will take us through to the beginning of Week Seventeen and we have ourselves some great races in the season.
At about the same time last year, we were finishing up the second segment of the season, since the Olympics were upon us and the schedule really was skewed for the most part. The second Waiver Draft had already concluded and we were counting down to the epic Winter event in Vancouver for the most part. This year, we still have a couple more weeks of action before we even decide the order for the second Waiver Draft, trying to decide on who will take Mikhail Grabovski, Toni Lydman or Pekka Rinne.
I thought I would maybe highlight another race or two this week in the Newsletter, but I have now decided against it. I think an All-Star version of the Newsletter will likely have a good chunk of scoring races and some kind of breakdown of other statistics. If you have any idea of what you would like to see in the blog next week, leave a comment on this post and I'll see what I can do.
Now, on to the highlights of Week Fifteen...
We start off the week with a four-way tie for the Player of the Week honour, three forwards and a goaltender have all finished with 7 points in the week, so we'll need to start breaking up some ties. The first tie-breaker will be goals, so that will eliminate our goalie from contention, which leaves us with three Eastern Conference forwards. The first competitor finished with 3 goals in 4 games, our second had 4 goals in 4 games, while our final player had 4 goals in 3 games, which will make him our Player of the Week for Week Fifteen.
So, with 4 goals and 3 assists in 3 games with the Carolina Hurricanes, our Player of the Week was Jussi Jokinen, his first time earning the honour.
Jokinen has been having a very respectable season thus far in 2011, helping keep the Hurricanes in the playoff conversation in the Eastern Conference with 33 points (10 goals and 23 assists) in 38 games. Jokinen has dealt with an upper-body injury that cost him six games this year, which has kept his overall tally a little lower than most seasons, but he is currently keeping a better scoring pace than what he had in 2010, so he should be able to finish off the season strong.
Jokinen finished the week in 85th spot in pool scoring, but if he is to keep up this pace of scoring, which is a little bit of a long shot, the race is so tight at the moment, only a few points will shoot him right up the rankings.
Looking at the week's numbers, it was almost way too close to a three-peat in the Mover and Shaker award, but thankfully, we have had some variety in the blogging part of this pool, as Allan S. has taken another Mover and Shaker award, his third of the season, thanks to a 37-point week.
The Mover and Shaker nod has also given Allan back the overall lead in the standings, with a slim margin of 1 point through 15 weeks, keeping the see-saw battle alive and the interest in the standings all that much greater.
Having a quick peek at Allan's team from the week, his team was led by consistency throughout his line-up, as he really didn't have too many standouts, rather he just had all but one active player with points in the week, which added up quite quickly. Leading the way for Allan's team was Teemu Selanne, Dennis Wideman and Corey Crawford, who all finished with 4 points in the week. After the top four players, he had six players with 3 points a piece, which as you can see, adds up quite quickly.
Allan's team has only spent one week this season out of the top two spots in the standings, a Week Six blip down in 3rd is his team's only blemish this year. His team can't seem to pull away, but at the very least he has stayed at the top.
In the jersey race for the second segment, we are now six weeks through the contest and it is still Kristy and Don who are leading the way, since they have had some pretty amazing weeks already in this segment. They hold a 10-point lead over Don D. and a 19-point lead over Allan S. for one of the Heritage Classic jerseys. It almost looks like they are going to run away with, barring a total and complete collapse.
In the Basement this week, it was much closer of a race to see who would take the lowest title of the pool and we did finish with a tie in this race as well. Going back to the first tie-breaker, goals scored, the team with the least will have another write-up in this Newsletter series. With 18 points in the week and 4 goals scored in Week Fifteen, it's Dale C. who finds his way down to the Basement.
This is Dale's second trip down to the Basement this season, each time it leaves him in 19th place in the standings and injuries are the biggest contributor to his residence in depths, but there is light at the end of the tunnel with the return of Chris Stewart to the Avalanche line-up and Alex Kovalev on the verge of a return to the Senators line-up, things could be looking up.
Out of an 18-point week, Dale found 11 of those points out of Joe Thornton (6) and Stephen Weiss (5) in the week, but no one seemed to want to follow that lead. How unfortunate.
In the Sheet pool, we again have a change in the lead, which continues to blow my mind, since this race is just so close all through the season. Wes M. has retaken the lead in the pool, his first time back in top spot since the end of Week Eight, but despite a few other lead changes, Wes has managed to stay in 2nd spot, while he wasn't in 1st. Now, he has finished Week Fifteen with a 2-point lead and he still has two trades left this season.
The biggest week in the sheet pool came again from Burc B., who has now finished with back-to-back weeks among the weekly leaders, which should have him creeping into the money conversation... not just at the bottom, but at the top. Burc finished the week with 77 points in Week Fifteen, 3 points better than his nearest competitor, which has now lifted him up into 4th place in the standings, moving up one more spot and he now sits only 5 points out of 1st place. Burc owes his climb again to the likes of Tim Thomas (7 points), Jordan Staal (5), Scott Hartnell (5), Henrik Lundqvist (5) and five other players with 4 points as well. Since the end of Week Eight, Burc has moved up one position each week to his current standing and with how tight everything is at the top, there is a great chance he can continue moving up.
Having the biggest move in the pool during the week was Ryan V., who moved up 3 spots in the standings, from 15th to 12th, thanks to a 70-point week, good enough for a tie for 3rd in the weekly totals. Ryan has made a good portion of his trades and has moved up from 28th in Week Four to 12th through Week Fifteen. With still 12 weeks left in the pool, he still has time to do some more damage upon the standings.
NEWS AND NOTES
The Ducks are trying to keep their heads above water in the Western Conference standings and recent call-up Dan Sexton has now found his way up to the press box as a healthy scratch. On Sunday night against the Oilers, the minor-league call-up didn't fit into the plans for the team and got a night off, which leads me to believe he'll be back down to the minors before too long.
The Blue Jackets were without one of their stalwart defensemen on Saturday night, as Rostislav Klesla missed out on their game against the Red Wings with a slight case of an illness. Klesla has seen a return to form this year and it found a little speed bump in the road with a night off, because of a bug. The Jackets don't play again until Wednesday, so he should be back up and ready to go by then.
The rocky season for Oilers defenseman Kurtis Foster continues, as he was made into a healthy scratch as well for the game against the Ducks in Anaheim on Sunday. Foster was going to be leaned upon for some offense from the blueline since the departure of Ryan Whitney to the Injured Reserve. Since then, he hasn't lived up to expectations and has now found his way upstairs again. He'll likely draw back into the line-up, but not without having a message sent to him in the process.
Panthers defenseman and captain Bryan McCabe is only expected to miss two weeks of action with his broken jaw and a broken finger. McCabe underwent surgery over the weekend to help repair some bones in his face, but it doesn't sound like it will give him too much discomfort, if the team doctors are going to let him go in only a couple weeks time. That's some pretty good news for the Panthers, who are now 7 points out of a playoff spot in the East.
The Sharks may be without one of their young kids for the next little while, as Benn Ferriero has suffered some facial injuries this weekend. Details were somewhat sketchy at best, but there is an expectation that he will miss Monday night's contest against the Coyotes in Phoenix. That's about all I know at the moment.
A quick update on Alexander Semin, as he was placed on the Injured Reserve this weekend, as he's been battling a hip injury over the past week. Semin didn't draw into a game all week for the Capitals, but being on the IR, he should be eligible to come off on Tuesday, just in time for the Flyers in Philadelphia, if he's feeling healthy enough.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
Hockey Night In Canada returns this weekend with another doubleheader, featuring three Canadian teams, two playoff bound teams and two basement dwelling teams, all looking to have a good showing in front of a huge audience.
The Capitals will travel into Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs in the early game, which will feature 17 players currently taken in the draft this week. It shouldn't come as a surprise to see who is leading the pack in scoring between these two teams, as Alex Ovechkin has 45 points in 46 games this season. The biggest surprise may be that he has fallen just a shade under the point-per-game scoring pace this year, but a game against the Maple Leafs could turn that statistic around in a big hurry.
In the late game, the Flames will go and try their luck again on the West Coast against the league-leading Canucks in Vancouver. The Flames have started to claw their way back into the playoff conversation of late, but will face a tough test against their division rivals. Daniel Sedin is the outright leader in points going into this week among these two teams, as he has 58 points in 45 games with the Canucks, good for 3rd in pool scoring through 15 weeks.