Last time we finished a segment in the season, I had very little time to drum up much of a write up for Allan S.'s win, but even as I watch the Super Bowl, I'm not sure how much inspiration I can gather to write another one for Kristy and Don's jersey win in the second segment.
Kristy and Don had to defend against a couple of surging teams at the end of the segment, as they entered Sunday's minimal amount of action with one of the smallest leads, but thanks to a Michal Neuvirth shutout against the Penguins in the early part of the day, the duo's position as best team in the middle segment was cemented into the pool's history and they will come away with their choice of a Heritage Classic jersey, thanks to 256 points in Weeks Ten through Eighteen.
The duo's second segment was also the best segment of the season by any team, eclipsing Allan S.'s first segment of 251 points and beating Don D.'s second segment of 249 points, which are now the top three segments of the year-to-date.
The best improvement between segments came from Don D., who improved by 58 points over his first segment, thanks to a strong waiver draft during Week Nine, which has also put him into striking range of the money spots, only 21 points out of 4th place. Only seven teams actually improved their segments in Week Ten through Eighteen, while the other 13 teams saw either a slight decrease or a pretty big one.
Now, we go into the final nine weeks of the season, the second waiver draft has been completed and we go down the stretch drive for the money prizes and one more jersey. Lots up for grabs in the last nine weeks, hopefully it's a good ride.
It wasn't one of the best scoring weeks in the draft in Week Eighteen, but this is why we have waiver drafts. On an individual basis, there were not a great deal of standout weeks, as six players finished atop of the scoring race for the week with only 6 points. Thankfully, when it came down to the tie-breaking procedures, it was made very simple, finding the Player of the Week for Week Eighteen. There was only one skater among the six players, Mikael Samuelsson of the Vancouver Canucks.
Samuelsson led all skaters in a somewhat disappointing week for scoring, thanks to three games in the week, picking up a pair of points in each performance. On Tuesday in Dallas, he had a goal and an assist in a 4-1 victory to start the week. On Wednesday in Phoenix, Samuelsson had a pair of assists in a 6-0 win. Finally, on Friday night, Samuelsson had another goal and assist performance against the Blackhawks in a crazy 4-3 win at home. It was quite the week for the Canucks and for Samuelsson, who continue the stretch run on a positive note.
Thanks to his good week, Samuelsson brought his season total up to 33 points (11 goals and 22 assists) in 52 games this season, which has him ranked 120th in pool scoring this year. That's close to where he finished up the 2010 season, when he finished with 53 points in 74 games. His scoring pace is down by a little bit, but if he continues on the pace of Week Eighteen, he should be able to climb back into form.
In a week where the the average team picked up only 22 points in the week, the Mover and Shaker picked up 36 points, which is a pretty big week considering how few points were collected. Wes M. had a pretty big week from the bottom half of the standings, as a number of his players finally woke up and started playing again, helping Wes climb up from 17th spot to 16th.
Week Eighteen was the best week of the season, so far, for Wes and only the third week that his team made it to the 30-point plateau. Some may have expected a little bit more from a team that had the 1st overall selection in the draft this year, but that doesn't exactly guarantee great results in any given year.
Leading the way for Wes' team in Week Eighteen was Steve Mason of the Blue Jackets, who had 6 points in the week, one of the goalies tied for the weekly best. Also having a good week, Corey Perry (5 points), Sam Gagner (4), Alex Ovechkin (4) and Devin Setoguchi (4). There were only a couple of active zeros on Wes' team, a positive sign through a week with a waiver draft.
Wes' team showed some real improvement in the second segment of the season, finishing tied for 10th in the middle nine weeks with 209 points. That segment was 22 points better than his first segment, where he finished 18th in the race. Neither week was close to a jersey prize, but a Mover and Shaker week to finish the second segment will at least give him momentum into the third segment.
The lower scoring week really lent itself to having a tie for the Basement Dweller in Week Eighteen and it was a four-way race for the bottom nod. In the end, one team was at the bottom by themselves, Ryan M.'s team, who finished 14 points in the week, dropping him down from 14th place to 15th.
This is Ryan's fourth Basement Dweller nod of the season, which has stunted most of his forward progress that he has made this year.
Ryan's best player in Week Eighteen was Miikka Kiprusoff, who finished with 4 points, also having Dan Boyle, who had 3 points. Those two players made up half of Ryan's points in the week, thanks in a large part to injuries to the team.
In the second segment, Ryan finished 17th in that race with 183 points.
Our new leader has survived his first full Monday to Sunday as the pool leader in the Sheet, as Burc B. just picked up enough points to fend off Mitch F. and keep a 1-point lead through two-thirds of the season. Burc opened up an 8-point lead after taking the lead in Week Seventeen, but his team finally sputtered a bit, with nowhere left to go at the top. His team can't rest on their laurels though, as Wes M. and Kendra M. are still hot on the tail of our leader, while Scott G. is also making up some ground as the weeks go on. With nine weeks to go in the year, we have ourselves a race.
The top week in the pool belongs to Chris M., who was head and shoulders above the rest of the pool, finishing Week Eighteen with 76 points, 9 points better than second place in the week. This was also good enough to be the best team, in terms of moving up the standings, moving up from 23rd to 19th, almost making it into the 1,000 point club. Chris' team was led by Mikael Samuelsson (6 points), Roberto Luongo (6), Martin Brodeur (6), Daniel Sedin (5) and five others with 4 points each. The most remarkable thing about Chris' team this season is that he has only made one trade, for a guy that has been keeping up with the pool, he hasn't done much with this one. Likely because he's currently in the money in the draft.
16 teams have now joined the 1,000-point club this season, a gain of nine teams, much better than the five teams that I thought would make it in. That would suggest that the scoring wasn't too bad in this pool, unlike the draft, where injuries are a little more devastating to the overall scheme of things.
I have some trades to make this week, some teams are looking to finish up their trading for the final third of the season. How many trades do you have left for this season?
NEWS AND NOTES
The Devils ran into a bit of a speed bump on Sunday afternoon, as Martin Brodeur left the game against the Canadiens after the 1st period with a bruised leg. The move to take Brodeur out of the net was just precautionary and there doesn't look to be too much more to come from it. The Devils play again next on Tuesday night, but we'll likely hear whether or not Brodeur will get the nod on Monday.
The Washington Capitals also saw one of their best players leave their game early as well, as Mike Green left the game against the Penguins after taking a slapshot to the side of the head in the 1st period. Green was bleeding from the side of the head when he left the ice, but again, it didn't sound like the injury was too serious. The Capitals also go next on Tuesday, but the news on Green's availability likely won't be a hot topic until then.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
It might be a bit of an older logo, but it does the job. Yes, it's one of the best days on the hockey calendar... Hockey Day In Canada! An all-Canadian tripleheader on the docket, including a number of stories from across the Great White North, all having to do with this great game of ours.
Coverage on CBC begins at 10am MT on Saturday morning and will go all the way through to After Hours after the final game of the tripleheader, which will likely end around Midnight. That's a full day of hockey, which also includes a couple of Canada's top rivalries in the game at the moment. There is a good chance that I'll be watching all day and tweeting through the pseudo-holiday, so if you've joined Twitter already, you'll find me there talkin' hockey.
In the afternoon matinée game, it isn't quite a match-up of great teams, as the 14th seed in the East travels West to meet up with the 15th seed in that conference. The Senators and Oilers are unlikely to have a big push into the playoffs this season, but with nothing to lose, this could end up being a decent game. The Senators will have eight players represented in the draft, led by Daniel Alfredsson, who has 30 points this season and ranks 148th in pool scoring. The Oilers, on the other hand, does lead this match-up with nine players and they are led by Dustin Penner, who has 33 points this season, ranking 115th in scoring.
Who am I kidding? This game is likely to be a bit of a bore.
The 5pm middle game will see the classic rivalry between the Maple Leafs and the Canadiens, but this game has few playoff implications to it. The Canadiens are the only team in the East with a shot at the playoffs, ranking 6th in the East standings, while the Leafs sit in 12th, but they are 11 points out of 8th. The Canadiens are at home for this one and should be the favourites, but that doesn't necessarily mean too much, as the Leafs wouldn't mind spoiling their party. This game isn't very well represented in the draft this year, as the Canadiens only have nine players from their team represented, while the Leafs have six. This game is led by Carey Price, who has 63 points through 18 weeks, ranking 7th in pool scoring this year, while the Leafs are led by Clarke MacArthur, who has 42 points, good enough for 56th.
In the late game, it's likely the best rivalry in Canada in recent memory, as the Flames travel to Vancouver for another date with the Canucks. The Flames have been red hot of late, turning a disastrous season into one where they could find themselves in a playoff spot. The Canucks have kept on rolling, despite some small hiccups, including a loss to the Flames at home recently. The Canucks would be out to play spoilers on a Flames season, while the Flames would be sizing themselves up against the best in the West. This game has a bit more representation in the draft, as the Canucks have 11 players, while the Flames have eight. Daniel Sedin is the 2nd-leading scorer in the NHL with 69 points, while the Flames are led by Miikka Kiprusoff, who has 50 points and is good enough for 25th overall.