Can you believe it? There is only a month left in the regular season. Where did all the time go?
Looking at the money positions with four weeks to go in the season, we'll see if there is any chance of some more movement down the stretch or has the close-knit season come apart near the end?
In the draft, it has been a bit of a runaway for Allan S., who leads the pool with 667 points through 23 weeks, as he has had four straight weeks of 30+ points. He now holds a 39-point lead on Kristy and Don. With so little time left in the season and Allan's team being so hot at the moment, it really does seem unlikely that he'll be caught in one month's time. The duo's lead over 3rd place has shrunk to only 10 points over Chris M., who had himself a pretty good week. Chris also opened up a gap of 16 points over 4th place Benson G., which is far from being safe as it is. As for the outside looking in, Stuart G. sits in 5th place, 20 points out of the money, Dale B. is in 6th, 24 points out and Don D. is in 7th, 29 points out. There might be some jockeying in the 5-6-7 spots, but I don't think we'll see any real jumps. Allan, the duo, Chris and Benson should be the money winners, barring any sort of collapse.
In the sheet pool, it is a little bit closer and with the way this pool is setup, there is a little bit more wiggle room, in terms of great weeks turning into made up spots in the standings. Saying all of that, I do tackle the money leaders in the Sheet Stat Pack down below, so I really shouldn't ruin that for everyone. It is closer than the draft, I will give it that and anyone has some trades left to make, now would be a good time to try and make them.
As for the playoffs, I am going to try and release the playoff pool this week, giving us all a month to start thinking about how we want to put everything together and figure out how you see the brackets going down. Yes, we are still a month away, but it might help everyone to get their homework in and suss out how they are going to approach another crazy playoff year.
A good start to this weekend's post, as there was a clear winner for the Player of the Week honours... Daniel Sedin scores his first nod of the season, which is mildly surprising, since he has been at the top of the scoring table for a while now this year. Sedin outpaced everyone else in the pool in Week Twenty-Three, picking up 8 points.
This makes six consecutive weeks where the Player of the Week has picked up 8 points this year, also 15 out of 23 weeks. It's the magic number.
It was a very good week for Sedin in Week Twenty-Three; the Canucks only played three games in the week and they were all on the road, which makes the feat that much more notable. The week kicked off on Tuesday, with a 4-3 overtime win in Phoenix, where Sedin had 3 assists to help guide the way. Thursday, it was a 5-4 shootout win in San Jose that put another goal and assist in his totals. Finally on Saturday night, a pair of goals and an assist polished off his week, bringing his weekly total to 2 goals and 6 assists for the overall lead in the week.
Sedin is currently riding a 5-game point streak going into Week Twenty-Four, where they'll start playing at home again for a stretch. Sedin also leads the league in pool scoring with 89 points this season, carrying a 5-point lead in that department, with Steven Stamkos and Carey Price tied for 2nd with 84 points.
Another clear winner in the Mover and Shaker race this week and it just happens to be a new face for the prize this week, as John P. has found his way up to the top of the heap in Week Twenty-Three, his first mention on the newsletter all season. John's team has not seen the Mover and Shaker or Basement Dweller all year long and has now got the recognition it truly deserves, as a 9th place team in the standings.
With 37 points in the week, this has been John's best week of the season, only the 5th time his team has eclipsed the 30-point barrier in weekly scoring, three of them coming in the last five weeks. At the end of Week Fourteen, he was down in 17th place, where he had bottomed out for the year, but now with a good waiver draft under his belt and some players that have finally woken up, he has climbed up into the top 10.
John's team was led in the week by both Jason Spezza and Kari Lehtonen, who each finished with 6 points to their name. Daniel Briere and Marc-Andre Fleury each chipped in with 4 points and there was a couple threes and only one zero, so there was a fair bit of consistency throughout his line-up.
John's team may be in 9th place, but looking at some of the breakdowns, he does have a bit of a below average team, which may explain how he was down in 17th for a while. His team has only scored 153 goals (pool average is 168), 332 points from his forwards (343), 93 from his defense (114) and his goaltending has been impressive with 132 points (91).
This good week has kept him in the third segment race, now ranking him second with four weeks to go, now behind Allan S. by 21 points, who has had a very hot team down the stretch as well. It seems unlikely that Allan will be caught, but we will only wait and see.
Easy week for me, as the draft pool nods were all clear winners, with Derek W. taking his third Basement Dweller nod of the season, scoring only 17 points in the week and closing the gap on the race for the bottom of the standings to only 14 points.
There was a pretty healthy stretch where you would have believed that Derek's team may have been able to sneak out of the 19th spot, but with only four weeks to go and nearly 50 points to move, it now seems rather unlikely.
On the plus side, this is his first Dweller mention in ten weeks, so he has been seeing some successes while other teams were pretty awful in front of him. Derek's best player in the week was David Backes, who had 5 points and Alex Semin, who had 4 points, accounting for more than half of his weekly scoring.
Derek's team is ranked 17th in the third segment this season with 104 points, 70 back of the leader in this race and only 6 up on last place.
The overall lead in the selection sheet pool was chipped away, but not by all that much, as Wes M. picked up only 3 points on Burc B., knocking the lead down to 23 points with four weeks to go in the season. We may need to see the comparisons between teams for the last month of the year, see who these teams need to keep their magic going. Mitch F. held steady in 3rd place after a bit of a slow week, while Scott G. had a good week in 4th place.
This is the third season of the selection sheet pool with 32 boxes, the record in points came last season with 1,796 points. Burc B. is only on pace to hit 1,675 points this season, well off the overall record. This would actually be the first season that the 32-box sheet would not have a winner over 1,700 points.
There was a tie for the top weekly scoring nod, as both Tim L. and Chris M. each picked up 82 points in Week Twenty-Three. I really, really wish I kept track on goal scoring for the week or else I would have an easier time deciding on who to feature, but I think I will choose Tim, since he is in 7th place (not too far ahead of Chris, mind you). Tim had good weeks from Daniel Sedin (8 points), Justin Williams (7), Ilya Bryzgalov (6), Carey Price (6), Alex Ovechkin (5) and Erik Karlsson (5). With his big week, Tim moved up two positions, from 9th to 7th and is now 24 points out of 4th place, the last money position.
Remarkably, moving up the most spots, which may have meant that he needed to be featured, was Chris M., who moved up from 13th place to 9th place with his good 82-point week. He's only 32 points out of the money with four weeks to go and I wouldn't say that it is an impossible feat to make it.
NEWS AND NOTES
The Sabres are all over the map when it comes to what is going wrong with a number of their players at the moment. Jochen Hecht has been in and out of the line-up with an upper-body injury, leaving Sunday's game with the same ailment and not returning. He's considered day-to-day. Drew Stafford missed both games over the weekend with a hamstring injury, he's also considered to be day-today.
The Sabres were also scratching players, as Steve Montador and Patrick Lalime were both scratches on Sunday afternoon. Montador hasn't played exceptionally well of late and Lalime has played much at all this year. I do expect to see Montador down the stretch, but Lalime will only be kept around in case of injury, as they will now likely go with Jhonas Enroth as Ryan Miller's back-up.
It appears the elbow that was thrown by the Lightning's Pavel Kubina did a fair amount of damage to the Blackhawks' Dave Bolland, who has suffered a concussion because of it. Bolland did not dress in Sunday's game and won't be available to the Blackhawks until the middle-to-end of the week, due to concussion rules. I would be surprised to see Bolland back any time soon, but mild concussions to seem to happen, where players do come back faster from them than others.
For the first time this season, Sean Avery was a healthy scratch for the Rangers, as he's struggled with scoring of late, but not surprisingly with his penalty minutes this year. I would figure that Avery should be back in the Rangers' line-up before too long, as he has been a guy that lines up anywhere among the four lines, so his flexibility has to be worth something. We'll have to wait and see.
A bout of the flu was enough to keep Matt Niskanen out of the Penguins line-up on Sunday afternoon against the Oilers. Niskanen, acquired in the Alex Goligoski deal with Dallas, has been good for the Penguins since arriving, playing some solid minutes and picking up a couple of points. I don't expect him to be out of the line-up for too long.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
Doubleheader Saturday again on Hockey Night In Canada, as we now are into the final month of the regular season and for one game, there is quite a bit riding on the early game. The late game, on the other hand, is just a formality of the schedule.
In the early game, it's a Northeast Division battle between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, where the Bruins will try to play spoilers in the Leafs' bid for a playoff spot, while the Bruins are trying to hold onto the division lead. The Bruins are one of the more popular teams in the draft, having 13 players working in the pool, including both their goalies, while the Leafs are one of the least popular teams, with only 7 players. The leading pool scoring player in this game is Tim Thomas, he has 75 points this season, ranking in the top 10 this season. Whether or not he starts in this game, that's another matter altogether.
The Northwest Division basement will be front and centre in the late game, as the Avalanche head up the Edmonton to take on the Oilers. This game doesn't really have much going on, other maybe a battle for the first pick in this Summer's draft. Surprisingly, with how bad these two teams are in the standings, they do have a good number of players in the draft, as the Avalanche have 10 players, while the Oilers still have 9 active players. Leading the 19 players into this week is Paul Stastny, he finished the week with 53 points in 65 games.