With the Heritage Classic rolling through Calgary, there wasn't a great deal of time to work on the hockey pool, let alone getting the newsletter done in good time.
The Classic was a good time, despite not having the best seats and not really being able to see a great deal of the action live. If you check out my Facebook page, I did post a few pictures of where we were sitting and what we had to contend with. I really didn't get a good chance to watch a great deal of the game, except on the big video screen, but even then, the scope of the building and the surroundings were so distracting, there was only so much of the action we could take in. That being said, I don't think I'll be too capable of writing a good post for it.
I hope it was a good game on TV and everyone enjoyed it, wherever you were watching it.
The review starts up with an early tie-break, as the Player of the Week nod will have to be separated from two goaltenders in the week, as 8 points was again the weekly best this season.
The tie-break isn't an easy one either, as both goalies have gone 3-0-0 in the week, picking up 1 shutout and then each making 78 saves in those three games. Neither goalie has a nod in the column yet this season, so I couldn't offer it to the one that hasn't... what am I going to do? Well, going down the list, I'm going to go with minutes played as the final decider and that brings us to...
Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks is our player of the week, thanks to an appearance in overtime on Tuesday night against the Predators. Niemi opened his week with the 2-1 win in Nashville, continued the week with a visit from the Capitals and a 3-2 win and he finished his week with a 4-0 shutout win over the torn apart Avalanche.
Niemi actually earned top honours with the NHL as well, being their first star of the week and our other goalie (Miikka Kiprusoff) was nowhere to be found.
The 8 points in Week Twenty have now lifted Niemi up to 37th overall in pool scoring with 51 points, which ranks him 14th among NHL goalies. It's turning out to be a pretty good year for last year's Stanley Cup winning goaltender after a fairly slow start to the season.
Generally, the last thing you want to see in the pool, especially when you're not winning the pool, is to see the leader have the best week (in any week of the season). There is, however, a reason why he is at the top of the standings, because his team has consistently been good. Yes, Allan S. has taken another Mover and Shaker nod this season, putting up 38 points in Week Twenty and has now opened an 8-point lead in the standings.
With the Mover and Shaker nod, Allan has now finished six consecutive weeks in 1st place and has now finished 10 weeks in total in top spot this year. He is keeping a pretty good pace, despite now being without two forwards.
Allan received top end scoring weeks from Antti Niemi (8 points and Player of the Week), Andy McDonald (6), Alex Pietrangelo (6) and Corey Crawford (4), leading the way down the stretch. Allan needed some big weeks from these guys, since he will be without Peter Forsberg for the rest of the year and still awaiting word on Matt Duchene's situation with his hand injury. There was only one other zero in his active players, a cold Brent Seabrook, but otherwise, everyone else chipped in and did their part.
I don't think we're anywhere near getting ready to claim a victory for Allan this season, as the lead is still only in single digits and there is seven weeks left to go. There is a lot that can happen between now and then, but it doesn't look too bad for Allan, down players and still having the best weeks in the pool.
Uh-oh!! Another tie-breaking situation for the Basement, as two teams only managed to string together 14 points in Week Twenty, so we'll go to the tie-breaking procedure... least goals up first. Right away, we have ourselves a Basement Dweller, losing 8-6 in goals scored, Wayne H. takes the couch in the basement for the week and will be our dweller.
Unfortunately for Wayne, he has been in a bit of a tailspin this season, but it's a slow burn this season. Wayne did peak this season up in 3rd place for weeks Nine and Ten, but since then has found his way down to 8th, falling from 7th place a week ago. In most instances over the past few weeks, it has been more of a case of the teams around him being a bit better than his, rather than just a straight disappointment streak, Wayne did manage to have a 30-point week in Week Nineteen, but still dropped a spot in the standings.
A lot of Wayne's problems likely can be traced back to Sidney Crosby's concussion, as he hasn't seen his best player since the first week of the New Year, which pretty much coincides with the rest of the story. His waiver draft goalie pick-up, Kevin Poulin, had also blown out his knee in his first start for Wayne, so it was bad news after bad news. Right now, it doesn't look good for Wayne, but there's always the playoffs!
Something wasn't quite right when I was initially working on the statistical audit this week, I thought we were going to have ourselves a new leader through 20 weeks, but that wasn't going to be the case in the end. No, Burc B. did still finish the week with a lead, but it's just a tad bit smaller than it was at the end of last week. The only shift in the top five was the move that saw Wes M. overtake Mitch F. this past week, but that can be just chalked up to jockeying, with how close everyone is up top.
Top week in the pool belonged to Jeff E., who finished with 72 points and he moved up to 14th spot from 15th the week before with the big week. Jeff managed to get himself in a tie for 13th, but doesn't have the goals to break the tie at the moment, but he is now in striking distance of a few teams, thanks to a good week. Leading the way for Jeff in the week was Miikka Kiprusoff (8 points), Henrik Sedin (5), Alex Ovechkin (5), Alex Semin (5), Patrik Elias (5) and four others with 4 points a piece.
Moving the most spots up the ladder in the pool was also Allan S., who had an alright week through both pools. Allan had 69 points in Week Twenty to move up four spots, up to 17th, in the pool. Still only figures to be almost 100 points back of the leaders, far too far back for a money run this season.
I'm wondering if many people were wowed by Patrick Sharp or Joe Pavelski in Box 4, not to notice Teemu Selanne, who leads that box with 55 points this season. The Finnish Flash has been very good for the Ducks this year and would have been a pretty good pick up for someone this year.
NEWS AND NOTES
A minor lower-body injury was enough to keep defenseman Joni Pitkanen out of the Hurricanes line-up over the weekend, although, it doesn't sound like the injury is too serious and the Finnish blueliner could be back in the line-up as early as Tuesday night. No real big deal here, by the sounds of things.
We are still awaiting official word from the New York Rangers, but there have been some reports that Marian Gaborik has been fallen by a concussion. Again, there hasn't been any confirmation to suggest that is actually the case, but we're keeping a close eye on this situation. As of right now, he'll be out day-to-day with an undisclosed injury after leaving the weekend's game with an injury. If the concussion reports ring true, there will be an update.
A conditioning stint is in the cards for Senators goalie Pascal Leclaire, who is coming back from a lower-body injury. Leclaire hasn't been able to suit up much for the Senators this season and now with the acquisition of Craig Anderson, I don't think anyone expects Leclaire to see much time down the stretch now either.
I didn't get to see many replays of this, but the word is that Peter Regin left Saturday night's game against the Maple Leafs with a shoulder injury and on Monday, reports have surfaced that the shoulder injury could be long-term enough to finish his season. I'm not sure if Regin was going to be trade bait for the Senators this coming week, but if there were any whispers about him being dealt as well, I'm sure they have been hushed with this news.
The Coyotes are in the middle of a good playoff spot battle in the stretch run and it doesn't look they would prefer to see Kyle Turris as an active member of the team going forward, sending him down to the minors for some quality minutes, instead of sitting in the press box, like he has been for the last week or so. Injuries will be the only way Turris makes his way back up this year, I'm thinking.
An upper-body injury was enough to keep Marc-Edouard Vlasic out of the Sharks line-up for a 4-0 win on the weekend. It doesn't sound like Vlasic's injury is considered to be too serious, but he may miss another game or two, especially with the Sharks needing him to be 100% healthy for the stretch run.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
The Penguins will invade the Air Canada Centre in the early game to take on the Maple Leafs on Saturday, while the Bruins will roll on their Western Canada visit through Vancouver to take on the Canucks in the late game. I really want to get this newsletter done today, so I'm not going to get into too much detail here.