Where has the season gone? We've only got five weeks of regular season action left to talk about and it is just flying by, don't you think?
The races in each pool have been really good and there is still potential for lots of movement in and out of the money, as the teams on the outside looking in are not too far out of anything. There may be less of a probability of swapping spots with some teams, but it is by no means impossible. The injuries are still piling up for some teams and that is an inescapable fact, especially in the draft.
This is kind of a shortened newsletter, since it has been pounded out in a couple of hours on Monday morning, so bear with me... but the review is about the same as most weeks, so let's see what happened.
Just when we thought we were not going to see much out of Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres, he strings together one hell of a week in Week Twenty-Two, earning himself Player of the Week honours for the first time this season. In three games played this week, he picked up 10 points, leading all players in the draft in scoring and re-asserting his position as one of the top goalies in the league. The team in front of him hasn't been great in 2012, nor has his game been all that good, but for one week, he was the best player and he reminded us all that he still has it in him.
His week got started a little late, as his first game was on Wednesday, where he posted a 43-save shutout over the Anaheim Ducks and then the next night, he stopped 39 pucks against the San Jose Sharks for back-to-back shutout evenings. On Saturday in Vancouver, he kept the roll going with a 32-save win over the Canucks and a 3-0-0 record with 2 shutouts was enough to give him the top dog nod in the week.
The 10 points gives him 54 on the season, which is good for 51st in overall scoring this year, about a 3rd round pick in the draft, to this point in the season. If he was to continue his hot streak, he could continue shooting up the rankings and be a 2nd round pick before it's all said and done. Miller is 18th among all goalies this year, only 3 wins out of the top 10, so there is real potential there, if his hot streak continues.
In the draft, Peter H. was sure happy to have him or else his week would have been close to another bust, as Miller accounted for nearly half of the points he collected as a whole.
It was the lowest-scoring week we've had in the draft in a month and some of the numbers really did reflect that. Allan S. didn't have a small week, however, taking away the Mover and Shaker nod for the second time in three weeks, with a 36-point effort. Unfortunately for Allan, it really didn't help his overall standing, as the last time he finished atop the weekly scoring, he finished in 10th in the standings and two weeks later, he's still in 10th. On the bright side, the gap has been closed up to 9th, where he only sits 4 points out of now.
Allan owes his second big week in three to a few players: Teddy Purcell, Ilya Bryzgalov and Ray Emery, who each finished with 6 points each, making up for half of his overall total in the week. David Legwand and Tyler Seguin each had 4 points, rounding out the notable players on his side in Week Twenty-Two.
Allan now has seven players who are ranked in the top 100 in pool scoring, where we had picked a maximum of five times in the top 100, some only had four selections, but having seven is a sign of having a pretty good season. He currently has two players good enough for the 1st round and one for the 2nd round, but he didn't get a lot of love out of his defensemen and some injuries really came back to bite him, which is why he's in 10th at the moment.
Allan's team currently ranks 3rd in points-per-game from his skaters with a scoring rate of .692 points, but his games played is well-below average, which goes back to his injury problems. His goaltending averages less than a point-per-60 minutes on the ice, which means he's just a shade less than an overtime loss per start (in theory).
With the big week, Allan now takes the lead in the third segment in scoring, having 127 points through four weeks of action and five weeks remaining. His lead in the competition now stands at 3 points, so the race is fairly tight there now.
The free-fall for Scott G. continued in Week Twenty-Two, as he had another Basement Dwelling week, his second in six weeks and he has seen a drop in the standings in those six weeks, as he now sits in 19th place after a 9-point week.
Injuries have ravaged his side in the last couple weeks, as Nicklas Backstrom remains out and it looks like James Van Riemsdyk may be done for the rest of the regular season. His goaltending combination has not seen much for action in the last week and whatever action they have seen, they have not been good for their team, picking up 0 points in the week.
Scott's best player in the week was Matt Read, who had 3 points, one-third of his points in the week.
Scott's team is now in danger of falling one more position, as he finished the week in a tie for 19th, with 433 points, and he has the tie-break, goals scored, but his team hasn't been scoring much as a whole, so there is a chance he could land in 20th before it's finished. Fortunately, that's about the furthest that he can go, because the actual basement is still another 50 points below.
Not a great deal changed in the standings in Week Twenty-Two, as the money teams remained the same and in the same position, while the teams in the top 10 didn't change, but there was a little bit of a shift in positioning between some of the teams in the bottom five. Jeff E. had his lead shrink again in the week, this time by another 5 points, who it is now down to 33 points with five weeks to go, which should be relatively safe. Zac H., Clayton C., Justin L. and Don D. each had pretty good weeks to cement their position in the money.
Caterina F. had a good week, moving up from 10th to 7th, putting on a little bit of pressure on some of the money teams. She took the top week in the pool, taking the tie-break in the overall weekly scoring mention (60 points), participating in the tie for the most goals scored in the week (20 goals) and moved up the most positions in the pool (three spots). That's a pretty good week. She owes her big week to Steven Stamkos and Mikhail Grabovski (5 points each), while Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Jimmy Howard and Marc-Andre Fleury each picked up 4 points. Out of the 32 players on her team, only nine were held to 0 points. She has used all of her trades this year and it is making a difference, as you can see with this post.
If you are still with some trades on your team, the deadline on Monday is 5pm MT, as the NHL schedule has one early start in the three games that are going, so be sure to finish up your trades by then. Only five weeks left in the season, so now is a good time to get it all done.
NEWS AND NOTES
The injury situation in Calgary continues to get worse, as the team announced that they will be without Blake Comeau on a day-to-day basis, pending further examination, with an upper-body injury, but there are reports that he will miss upwards of three weeks with a shoulder injury. During their game against the Dallas Stars in the evening, they lost the services of Lance Bouma, possibly to a concussion, after sliding into the boards with Sheldon Souray and taking the full weight and a push to his upper-body. He left the game and didn't return
The Detroit Red Wings are looking at another goaltending scare, as their number one goalie, Jimmy Howard, had to leave Sunday afternoon's contest against the Blackhawks with a lower-body injury. Howard finished the 1st period of the game, but didn't come out to the crease to start the 2nd, handing the reins over to Joey MacDonald. This is the second injury that Howard has suffered in recent memory, as he had a broken finger at the beginning of February, which obviously has no relation to this injury here. The afternoon starts are a killer for goalies and that may have been the issue for Howard on Sunday.
Young Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson took the brunt of his coach's wrath on Sunday, being a healthy scratch against the Senators, as well as getting bag-skated in practice during the morning skate, after making a poor line change earlier in the weekend. Gudbranson has not excelled in the NHL this season, like some (mostly me) thought he would, but adjusting to the NHL pace from junior is tough for young players, especially with little-to-no experience in the AHL. I'm not sure if Gudbranson is going to recover this season, but I would look for him again next year.
It doesn't appear that getting onto his third team this season is helping Kurtis Foster very much, as his return to Minnesota has already resulted in a healthy scratch, less than a week after his re-acquisition at the trade deadline. Foster bounced from Anaheim to Jersey and then to Minnesota and the coaching staff for the Wild are quickly finding out that Foster may not have much game left, hence the bouncing. Foster was a healthy scratch for the game against the Avalanche, which doesn't bode well for the stretch run now.
A bout of back spasms was enough to keep defenseman Andy Greene out of the New Jersey Devils' line-up for their afternoon game against the Islander. Greene has missed a considerable amount of time already this season, so it is just a continuation of a tough year for him. Greene has only featured in 39 games for the Devils and there is a chance that he could still be out for a couple more games, as back spasms can last anywhere between one game to a couple weeks, generally speaking, so it doesn't look like it'll get any easier here.
The Winnipeg Jets have announced that they do not expect to have defenseman Zach Bogosian in their line-up for at least the next week with an upper-body injury and it is hard not to suspect a head injury when you talk about missing a week's worth of action. Nothing has been made official, but the team just said that they expect him to be out for Week Twenty-Three, which could mean anything between the head and the shoulders, really. Bogosian has missed some time already this year and his scoring has been below where you'd want it to be, so this would count as a rough season.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
Just a quick preview this week of this coming weekend's Hockey Night In Canada action, to which it is another double-header. The end of Daylight Savings is upon us and there is one good battle for the playoffs and then an all-Canadian match-up with little significance to the overall standings.
In the early game, the Philadelphia Flyers head into Toronto to take on the Leafs. Philadelphia is firmly entrenched in the Eastern Conference playoffs, floating in the 4-5 positions in the East, where they will likely finish in just over a month's time, while the Leafs begin Week Twenty-Three only 3 points out of a playoff spot in the East, but they have four teams to jump over in the standings. By Saturday, this game could have some real meaning or the Leafs could certainly fall right out of the conversation.
The late game sees the Montreal Canadiens continue a Northwest Division swing with a stop in Vancouver to take on the Canucks. The Habs are in last place in the East to start the week and the Canucks are the top team in the West, so as it stands, this match-up doesn't look very good on paper. Of course, the match-up on paper doesn't necessarily mean that this will be a bad game, since there should be plenty of Habs fans in Rogers Arena to cheer on their team, which could be good, but then again, they haven't been very good on the road this season.