A late-to-be published edition of the Newsletter has now dropped and we'll quickly get through this one here today, if possible.
One note of significance in Week Twenty, the injury to Jimmy Howard did cost him the overall lead in pool scoring, as Pekka Rinne came up and tied with the Red Wings goalie, as they now sit 1-2 in pool scoring with 75 points each. Howard is expected back in the Red Wings line-up this week, but Rinne has been hot of late, so we could have ourselves a goaltending drag race to the end of the season. Evgeni Malkin is 3rd in pool scoring with 71 points, but it looks like it is going to be a crease jockey that wins it all this year.
We're expecting another big week in the pools in Week Twenty-One, as there are another 49 NHL games scheduled to go. Let's see how last week's 49 games went, there was probably a lot of points to be had.
The pools did not have a large number of huge individual performances, but we did have a tie for the Player of the Week nod, as two players finished off with 8 points in Week Twenty. One forward and one goalie, so the tie-break was fairly simple... goals scored to win it. With 1 goal and 7 assists, Blake Wheeler of the Winnipeg Jets comes up with the nod.
Wheeler becomes the first player in a Jets uniform to take the weekly mention, which came out of nowhere, really. Wheeler and the Jets have been playing some good hockey lately, as they are in the mix for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, losing the tie-break for the final spot to the Leafs.
Wheeler played in four games in the week: shutout in the 3-1 loss to the Islanders on Tuesday, 1 assist in the 4-3 shootout win over Minnesota on Thursday, 1 goal and 2 assists in the 4-2 win over the Bruins on Friday and 4 assists on Sunday in the 5-1 win over the Avalanche on Sunday.
The 8 points in the week has lifted his season total to 11 goals and 35 assists in 59 games, which has him ranked 65th overall in pool scoring, one spot ahead of Alex Ovechkin and also just ahead of Joe Pavelski and Thomas Vanek in the rankings. I would say that he is having a fine season.
Wheeler belongs to Ryan M. in the draft this year, which gives him his first Player of the Week nod of the season, but unfortunately, Wheeler's numbers made up almost half of Ryan's overall points in the week, so there wasn't much added to his season from one big week.
We saw the second highest scoring week overall in the season for the draft in Week Twenty, as the pool collected 561 points through 49 NHL games and two teams came away like bandits, with 38 points each, so the tie-breaks needed to be employed yet again for this decision. With 13 goals for in the week, Allan S. took his second Mover and Shaker of the week nod for the season.
The first time that Allan had the Mover and Shaker, it was Week Two and he was able to take the lead with that great week, but unfortunately, it hasn't been a smooth ride for his team since, as he has now moved into 10th place with this fine week and the money is 30 points away.
Allan owes his big week to Ilya Kovalchuk, who had 6 points for the Devils, Jason Pominville had 5 points for the Sabres and Max Pacioretty and John Tavares each had 4 points for the Habs and Islanders, respectively. Only two active players on his roster were unable to pick up points, one due to injury and the other to a cold team.
In the draft this season, Allan has had the best set of forwards through 20 weeks, leading the pool with 351 points from his front eight, none of which he had moved at any of the waiver drafts. His lead in the category is rather slim, but it still looks good on his team. Sadly, the numbers from his defense and goaltending are not very good. His goaltending has collected the least amount of points in the pool, with 47, where the average team has 80 points, so you can gauge just how bad the season has been there.
Without good goaltending in the pool, it is really hard to pick up money, unless your forwards are far and away better than anyone else's, but that just isn't the case here. His forwards are good, but they are not as good as they have to be to pick up money.
A Mover and Shaker nod is good enough to keep him in the conversation for the third segment race, as his team has picked up 63 points in the first couple of weeks of the third and final segment, only 3 points back of John P. and Stuart G., who each have 66 points.
All the teams at the bottom of the pool made up some ground on Munden G., whose team finished with only 10 points in Week Twenty, to be the clear and decisive owner of the Basement Dweller position.
Munden's skaters had very few excuses in the week, playing in 36 games, while his goaltending didn't feature quite as much, but nevertheless, it was not a good outing for his crew. Munden's points came from six players this week, four of which had 2 points each and then there were two singles. A very disappointing outing from his side in the week.
His team ranks 21st in the pool in points per skater games, picking up .486 points every time one of his forwards of defensemen hit the ice and he has an above-average number of games played, which probably makes it the most embarrassing. We'll check this down to his first year in the pool.
Teams are now moving into the 1,000-point brackets on a regular basis in the selection sheet pool, as most teams have been pretty close to each other all season. At the end of Week Twenty, we now have 20 teams that have moved into quadruple digits in points, which is good news and we should have four more teams before the end of Week Twenty-One.
No change in the money standings in the week, as we have Jeff E. still leading, Zac H. holding onto 2nd, Clayton C. chasing him down in 3rd, Justin L. doing well in 4th and Kendra E. holding a slight lead in 5th. There was a little bit of movement in the top 10, as Scott G. shifted past Wes M. for 7th and Dale C. moved into 10th place in the week, all of which is nice and close to the money spots, so it stays exciting.
Top week in the selection sheet pool belongs to Debbie G., who also had the biggest move in the standings as well, picking up 81 points to move from 15th place to 12th place in the standings. Debbie now sits 42 points out of the money and if her team can string together three or four more of these huge weeks, we would start talking about money in her case this year. Debbie had good weeks from Roberto Luongo and Brian Elliott, each picking up 6 points, while Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Logan Couture, Steven Stamkos and Dustin Byfuglien each had 5 points in the week and her team had four more players with 4 points each. Debbie has a team that is one to watch down the stretch, especially with all of her trades made for the year.
The goal-scoring leader of the week was Clayton C., who picked up 28 markers in Week Twenty. His team now sits in 4th with 359 total tallies, 1 out of a tie for 2nd with Debbie G. and Justin L., 15 back of the overall leader, Jeff E..
NEWS AND NOTES
A very notable return on Sunday night, as the Colorado Avalanche were likely pleased to welcome back Matt Duchene to their line-up, before they took on the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. Unfortunately, the return didn't spark any immediate returns, as the Avs fell to the Jets, 5-1, but it shouldn't be all doom and gloom from there. Duchene was expected to miss a month with his knee injury, but it soon turned into almost two months away from the line-up, which meant that his ranking of 114th in pool scoring then dropped down to 239th in that time. Another disappointing year due to a major injury, one of the main perils of the hockey poolie.
The Detroit Red Wings have been greatly impressed by the emergence of Joey MacDonald in their crease, during the absence of their number one goalie, Jimmy Howard, over the past couple of weeks. MacDonald has now earned the back-up spot for the team, as Ty Conklin has been placed on waivers on Monday, in preparation to send him down to Grand Rapids of the AHL. Conklin did well to earn the back-up spot in training camp, but when the injury to Howard had happened, he wasn't able to step up and take charge for the team, thus the demotion.
In Sunday night's game between the Oilers and the Canucks, goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin left the game with a sore groin, not returning after the 1st period. On Monday morning, the Oilers announced that they expect to be without the big Russian keeper for the next week to 10 days, which could put him out until the beginning of March. The Oilers have called up Yann Danis to back-up Devan Dubnyk, while Khabibulin is away, but this will be more about points in the pool, then it will be for wins for the Oilers and their playoff run.
A touch of the flu was enough for Mike Fisher to stay out of the Predators' line-up on Sunday night, as they took on the Stars in Dallas. The Predators managed to pull out a 3-2 victory without one of their top centres and I would believe that they will not be without Fisher for too long, just because of the illness. Fisher ranks 131st in pool scoring this season, with 34 points (17 goals and 17 assists) in 50 games this year.
The oft-injured defenseman Kurtis Foster was out of the line-up again, as the Devils missed him on Sunday night, because of an upper-body injury. Foster has only figured into 37 games this season between Anaheim and New Jersey and despite his offensive upside, which may be quickly dwindling away, the risk of having him in your fantasy pool team is just too great these days. I think he'll be fortunate to play a part in any more fantasy games, unless his production can skyrocket back to something a little more respectable.
On Monday morning, the Toronto Maple Leafs made the move to send defenseman Keith Aulie back down to the Marlies of the AHL, signalling the impending return of Carl Gunnarsson to their line-up this week. Aulie has not been a regular part of the Leafs line-up this season and he'll be able to get a lot more ice-time in the minors, while the Leafs make the push towards the playoffs. In 17 games with the Leafs, Aulie only has 2 assists.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
We have ourselves another triple-bill on Hockey Night in Canada coming up and it looks like it could be another fun one to watch. It will be just a quick preview this week, as the newsletter is late being published.
In the afternoon game, we'll see the St. Louis Blues invade Winnipeg to take on the Jets. The Blues are right in the thick of the Western Conference playoff picture, while the Jets are clinging to some hope that they have for an Eastern Conference appearance. Both teams have been playing some good hockey of late, so when they collide on Saturday, it could be a good clash.
The early evening game will feature the Washington Capitals taking on the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre, as both teams are currently mixing it up with the Winnipeg Jets, who will have concluded their game just before theirs to see where they match-up going forward.
In the late game, the Philadelphia Flyers, who have been treading water in the Eastern playoff picture will visit the Calgary Flames, who just climbed into the Western picture over the weekend for the first time this season. The Flyers have struggled to find desire in games over the past few weeks, while the Flames have been riding the back of their number one goalie, which may give an edge to the home team on the weekend.