Allan Continues To Pull Away
It may have taken a little bit longer than most years previously, but we now have a runaway leader in the pool, as Allan continues to pull away from the competition. Allan had another great week in the pool, which has now increased his lead from 12 points to 22 points. This is the first time this season that the lead went over 20 points and this is the first time that the lead has been in the double-digits for back-to-back weeks. It now looks like that this is Allan's pool to lose.
A Shuffle Below
Well, the other three teams in the prizing remained the same, but Scott moved up to 2nd place with a good week of his own... or is it because Chris had a bit of a poor week? Chris dropped down to 3rd place in the shuffle, while Derek Wilton remained in 4th place. Scott pushed 2 points past Chris and sits 7 points up on Wilton, while Wilton's buffer to outside the prizing is now 8 points.
Third Segment Race
In a somewhat disappointing turn of events, the top two teams in the segment race are the same two teams that are on top of the standings. I was kind of hoping for a different race altogether here. I would probably take some suggestions on how to divvy up some prizes next year, outside of the regular races.
Allan's lead on Scott in this race is now 14 points, as Allan has the hottest team in the post-Olympic stretch, picking up 96 points since the return from Sochi. Benson and Wes are tied for second in that stretch, with 79 points.
For the third time this season, we have had a repeat performer in the Player of the Week nod. Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks, who is running really hot these days, currently on his own personal 5-game winning streak, but we'll just concentrate on the Week Twenty-Two wins, to which there were three of them.
Thanks to Niemi's heroics lately, the Sharks are now running neck-and-neck with the Anaheim Ducks for 1st place in the Pacific Division and they are getting hot at just the right time.
On Tuesday, Niemi started the week with a 19-save win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, allowing a pair of goals in a 6-2 win. On Friday, he was far busier, making 35 saves, while allowing three, in a 4-3 win over the New York Islanders. The hard work seemed to have paid off, as he made 41 saves on Sunday against the New York Rangers, shutting out his opponent and earning a 4-point game. Three games, three wins and a shutout for 8 points, the clear winner of the Player of the Week nod.
These 8 points moved Niemi into a tie for 2nd overall in pool scoring, tied with fellow goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury of the Penguins, with 78 points. Niemi has taken top goalie honours in a season or two in the hockey pool and now he's getting paced for another top keeper nod, which is fairly impressive, especially with that 41-save shutout against the Rangers.
Unfortunately for Leo, Niemi is about the only player that has really done anything great for his team, which is why his team is mired at the bottom of the standings. Leo did move right out of the basement in Week Twenty-Two, nearly getting Mover & Shaker mentions, but these small victories aren't going to be enough.
Having two out of the last three Mover & Shaker mentions while your team is in the lead of the hockey pool will mean an increased chance of winning the overall points race. Yes, Allan's team continues to be on fire, picking up 34 points in Week Twenty-Two and opening up his lead to 22 points, as it was mentioned above. Heck, I really shouldn't have to tell this to you twice.
Allan's team was led by Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov, who finished the week with 7 points, followed by Ryan O'Reilly of the Avalanche, Mason Raymond of the Leafs and Sergei Bobrovsky of the Jackets, who each had 4 points.
Only one active player, PA Parenteau, was unable to pick up any points, due to injury. Allan's team will have to contend with more injuries, which may challenge his lead, but for now, everyone else is running hot, so his lead continues to grow.
Allan's goalies have been magnificent this season, as they lead the pool with a scoring rate of 1.4 points per 60 minutes of play. Between Varlamov and Bobrovsky, he has seen 60 wins, 4 shutouts and 4 assists for 132 points, now tied for the pool lead in the category. Not bad for his 3rd and 4th round picks.
With only four weeks left to play in the regular season, his 22-point lead seems fairly safe.
I was kind of thinking that this season would be different for Ryan M., as he did his homework this year, came to the draft prepared, but it still wasn't to be, as he has now found the Basement Dweller nod for the first time this season, thanks to a 16-point week. His team was able to float in 15th place from week to week, but the gap below him has now shrunk, as Derek Wyllie now sits 11 points back in 16th place.
Five of Ryan's players were held pointless in the week and Marian Hossa of the Blackhawks was his best player, scoring 3 points in one game on Sunday.
Ryan's team has not fared well in the third segment, ranking last in points with only 117 since the start of Week Seventeen and is tied for 22nd in points since the Olympic Break ended. It has been a rough stretch, thanks in part to a couple of injuries, but mostly ice-cold play.
Next year will be better, right?
NEWS AND NOTES
It was the second half of back-to-back games for the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday and we all know what that means. Teemu Selanne was a healthy scratch, which I'll reiterate, has been the norm all season long. With only four weeks to go in the season, I'm sure Chris would like to see Selanne play these games, as his team slips in the prize positions, but he'll have to suffer through these games without one of his better forwards.
On the injury side for the Ducks, defenseman Cam Fowler suffered a lower-body injury on Friday night against the Avalanche, which forced him out of the line-up for Saturday's game against the Kings in Los Angeles. Fowler is listed as out day-to-day with the injury, but there has been no indication as to when he may return to the line-up.
The depth on the Boston blueline continues to be a story on the blog, as newly-acquired Bruins defender Andrej Meszaros found his way back up to the press box on Saturday night, as Torey Krug returned from his one game upstairs. Unless one player really gets outpaced in the line-up for the Bruins, I would expect the revolving door to spin. We'll probably see a few names cycle around.
An elbow injury forced Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers out of the line-up for the weekend, missing Saturday's game on Long Island and Sunday's game at home to the Montreal Canadiens. Myers is listed as out day-to-day with the ailment, but there is no word on the extent of the injury, nor when the team expects him back in the line-up. Rasmus Ristolainen was called up to take his place.
It sounds like there is a nasty bug going around the Los Angeles Kings' dressing room, which cost forward Dustin Brown a game in the line-up, as he missed the inter-divisional contest against the Anaheim Ducks. It was also reported that goalie Jonathan Quick was also felled by the ailment, but he was still able to dress and back-up Martin Jones in the 2-1 loss. Hard to say whether or not Brown and Quick will be ready for Monday night's game in Phoenix, since a few of these bugs have been quite severe this season.
A lower-body injury in the week forced Pittsburgh Penguins forward Chris Kunitz from this weekend's home and home series against the Philadelphia Flyers. It sounded like Kunitz was close to playing in the second game on Sunday, but it looks like the team were being cautious with the winger, as they are firmly entrenched in the Metropolitan Division lead, so there likely was no reason to push their luck with the injury. Look for Kunitz to return at some point this week.
A solid cold streak for Derek Roy of the St. Louis Blues forced the coaching streak to find some offense elsewhere, making Roy a healthy scratch for the first time this season. The reports are saying that Roy has been held pointless in nine games, which is a pretty exceptional streak, given the talent that he plays with on that Blues team. I couldn't see this lasting too long, however, as roster changes are upcoming.
The crease for the Buffalo Sabres is an unhealthy place to play at the moment, as the team had lost the services of both Michal Neuvirth and Jhonas Enroth over the weekend. Neuvirth, the only one of the two that are active in the pool, suffered a lower-body injury and was unable to dress on Sunday for the game against Montreal. The Sabres are hitting the road this week and it will be interesting to see if Neuvirth travels, given that Enroth won't and there will be starts to be had.
After only missing one game with a foot injury, Dallas Stars forward Cody Eakin returned to the line-up on Sunday against the Winnipeg Jets. Eakin was able to register an assist in the game, but was a -3 in the 7-2 loss to their division rivals. Eakin has been pretty decent for the Stars this season, but couldn't offer much help in the thrashing that they took in the end.
The injuries continue to mount for the Detroit Red Wings, as their season playoff streak teeters on the edge of being broken. On Sunday, Todd Bertuzzi was not able to dress against the Chicago Blackhawks, thanks to a lower-body injury. Bertuzzi joined a long list of teammates that are sitting on the shelf with various ailments and he's currently on the list as out day-to-day. There is no word as to when he'll be able to return.
On Friday, the Edmonton Oilers were without forward Sam Gagner, due to an undisclosed injury. Gagner only missed the one game, as he was able to return on Sunday, when the Oilers took on the Carolina Hurricanes. Gagner is currently ranked 211th in pool scoring this season with 31 points in 55 games, which is likely well-below the expectations set upon him going into this season.
It sounds like the groin injury that has been hampering Brooks Laich of the Washington Capitals is getting much worse, before it is getting better. Laich missed out on Sunday's game, home to the Maple Leafs, and he is now expected to miss out on the next three games, as the Capitals hit the road. The injury has really hurt Laich's numbers as well, limiting him to only 15 points this year.
The Winnipeg Jets' crease will belong to Al Montoya for at least one more game, as Ondrej Pavelec has been sidelined with a lower-body injury. Pavelec left the game against the Rangers on Friday night after one period, unable to return. The team has set their expectations at only missing a couple of games, but there is a chance that Pavelec might not be ready to go after two games away, so Montoya will be the guy that will be tasked with the job of keeping the Jets in the playoff race.
On Sunday night, the Chicago Blackhawks lost the services of forward Brandon Saad early on, unable to return to the game, because of an upper-body injury. After the game, the coaching staff remarked that he didn't look to be that bad, but he would have to be re-evaluated in the early part of the week, before returning to action. As far as updates go, that was pretty vague, but we'll keep you posted, if it is anything more than day-to-day.
Another young star left their respective game on Sunday, as the Florida Panthers lost Jonathan Huberdeau in the game against the Vancouver Canucks. There hasn't been any official word on the injury, but there is an expectation that he won't be making the trip out West, as the Panthers open a trip in San Jose on Tuesday night. He'll be listed as out day-to-day, until there are further updates.
On Monday morning, the St. Louis Blues announced that they will be without forward Vladimir Tarasenko for upwards of the next six weeks, thanks to a broken hand, which will require surgery to repair. Tarasenko was hurt on the weekend, not long after scoring a goal against the Nashville Predators on Saturday.
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