Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Scoring Race in the Pools

The scoring race in the hockey pools that I keep do include some easy scoring for the goalies, which I actually think is a pretty good indicator as to how important each player is to their hockey pool team and in some cases, important they are to their NHL club.  With goalies getting 2 points for a win, another 2 points for a shutout and a point for every assist they pick up, they stack up pretty well against the skaters in the pool, as they get scored normally for a goal and an assist.

It should come as no surprise that Daniel Sedin currently leads the charge in the pool scoring race, since he has had a monster season in Vancouver.  Sedin currently leads the pool with 93 points (38 goals and 55 assists) in 73 games, which works out to a scoring rate of 1.27 points per game.  He is well on his way to a scoring title this season, especially among the skaters in the pool this year.

After picking up his 10th shutout of the season on Tuesday night against the Panthers, Henrik Lundqvist rolled right into 2nd place in the scoring race, the shutout being his 32nd win of the season and he has also tallied 4 assists to bring his season total to 88 points.  Lundqvist has been the main reason why the Rangers are where they are at the moment and we all can appreciate his numbers while doing it.  Will this equate to a Vezina Trophy from the league?  Not sure, but it won't hurt.

Number three on the list is Steven Stamkos, the kid who leads all players in goals scored this season with 43, which goes really well with his 43 assists, giving him 86 points in 73 games this season.  Stamkos held a bit of a lead earlier on in the season, but there was a little bit of a drop off between himself and the rest of his Lightning teammates.  I would attribute some of that to his age and a bit more of that to coaches working against him, but he has sure had a memorable season.

Since they are both healthy, the questions that we had last season are being answered, as Henrik Sedin is also in the mix for the top scoring player in the league again, also having 86 points in 73 games this season, but unlike Stamkos, Sedin is the playmaker, leading all players in the NHL with 68 assists this season.  The Sedin twins are poised to become the first brother combination to finish one-two in league scoring and in pool scoring (of course, league scoring is much more impressive).

The third player on the list at 86 points is also the second goalie on the list, who is in contention for top goalie and top pool scoring player this season, Carey Price of the Canadiens.  With 34 wins, 8 shutouts and 2 assists, Price has been having an MVP-type season in Montreal, leading his team into a probable playoff position this season.  I think one of the better reasons as to why Price is a good candidate is playing goal in Montreal, behind a team that has had trouble keeping their best defenemen healthy.  More than enough reason for me to give him a vote.

The only other player that has eclipsed the 80-point barrier through Tuesday night's action is Martin St. Louis of the Lightning, who has been doing a good job helping out his teammates (Stamkos, in particular) score this season, ranking second in the league in assists with 59, to go along with his 26 goals.  St. Louis may not be in many conversations for league MVP, but if he can help Stamkos get there, I'm sure he would be just as pleased.

I shouldn't go too far without giving a mention to a defenseman, despite not being in the race for the overall title in points this year.  Currently leading the scoring race for blueliners this season is Lubomir Visnovsky of the Anaheim Ducks, who has 14 goals and 44 assists in 71 games for Anaheim.  He has been really consistent for the Ducks, giving them all kinds of options from the back end, helping their best players at either end of the ice.  With 58 points, he's trying his best to close in on a career-high in points, which he set in 2006 with 67.  It could be done.

Not too far behind from Visnovsky is the annual contender, Nicklas Lidstrom of the Red Wings, who has been having another stellar season at age 40 (41 in April).  Lidstrom is only one assist behind Visnovsky for the defensemen scoring race this year, sitting with 57 points in 73 games.  Lidstrom is helping to lead his Red Wings team to another Central Division title, playing exceptional hockey at either end of the rink.  He will get plenty of consideration for the Norris Trophy again this year, especially if he can take the scoring lead before the end of the year.

I can't talk about the two above without having to mention Keith Yandle of the Coyotes, who is right up there with Visnovsky and Lidstrom.  Yandle has had a really good year in Phoenix with 11 goals and 46 assists (47 points) in 75 games this year.  Yandle leads all defenders with his 46 assists, which is good enough for 8th in the league in that category.  That gives us three defensemen in the top 60 in scoring this year, nowhere near the top spots, but it is a good race for the best defenseman of the year for scoring.

Well, there you have it... the races, as I see them here working the hockey pools.  With only two and a half weeks left, give or take, there is still quite a bit that can happen.  Enjoy it while it lasts!

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