It wasn't exactly a top notch week for pool scoring, so the race was limited to a pair of goalies again in Week Twenty-Four. As you may assume from the picture above this paragraph, our winning goalie, with 8 points, thanks to a 3-0-0 record, with 1 shutout, is Winnipeg's Ondrej Pavelec.
Pavelec has retaken the Winnipeg starting job of late and has done nothing, but run with it. He has won his last four starts, including the three this week, all at home, against Sharks, Blues and shutting out the Capitals on Saturday night.
Fortunately for the Winnipeg Jets, the lack of production from Pavelec all season was supplemented by his counterpart in the crease, Michael Hutchinson, and that has caused the regular number one's numbers to be well below his projections, which was based on the assumed minutes that he would get this season. Through the end of Week Twenty-Four, the 27-year old Czech keeper has only made 42 appearances in net, winning 17 games, with 2 shutouts for 38 points this year. This is only good for 165th overall in pool scoring, 28th among all goalies and 2nd among goalies in Winnipeg.
Of course, this has been a disappointment for Stacey M., except for this week, as she picked the Winnipeg keeper in the 3rd round, 61st overall and has been getting 8th round production out of him. Still, Stacey's team is still in the running for a top 10 spot through this week, sitting 3 points back of 9th & 10th. If Pavelec can keep up this pace, her team has a shot at finishing in the top 10.
It is moving and shaking at its finest in Week Twenty-Four, as the clomped together section of the standings really suited the likes of Benson, who walloped everyone in the bottom half of the top 10 with a 33-point week and jumped up from 10th to 5th, in a blink of an eye.
12 weeks ago, Benson's team was sitting in last place in the standings and there was no question that his team had gotten off to a most disappointing start. Two Waiver Drafts and a resurgence of his goaltending came around and all of a sudden, his team is back to where it possibly should have been at the start of the year, in contention for some real trophies.
Benson's team is still 22 points out of the money with only three weeks to go, so it will be rather difficult to ascend that high, but being 11 points out of 4th place, that's certainly a possibility.
Like most other success stories in the pool this year, it all starts with goaltending and this story is much the same. Kari Lehtonen of the Stars led the way for Benson's team, picking up 6 points in the week, followed closely by Drew Stafford of the Jets, Mark Stone in Ottawa and Radim Vrbata of the Canucks, who all posted 5-point weeks.
In terms of segment scoring this year, Benson's team has gone from worst to first over the course of the year, finishing 23rd at the end of Week Nine, going to 4th through the second segment and now 1st with three weeks to go. A rough start cost him dearly, as his team has been ridiculously hot ever since Week Twelve. Now, it's a question of 'how high can he finish?'
Well, it's a swap of positions and stature, as we look at the Basement Dweller of Week Twenty-Four. Last week's Mover & Shaker, Dale B., fell on hard times this week, picking up a lousy 9 points and falling from 5th to 10th, the exact opposite of what Benson did as this week's M&S. An omen of things to come for Benson, perhaps?
Dale's team was just unlucky, in the sense that all of his players were healthy for the better part of the week, one injury cost him a game or two, but everyone finished the week okay, it is just that they didn't score in the games that they played.
Columbus' Scott Hartnell and Detroit's Jimmy Howard were the only two players to pick up a couple of points each to lead the way for his team, as he had a handful of singles on his team and the rest were naughts.
Jumping back into 5th place wouldn't be the most difficult, if the pool's hottest team would cool down for a week, as Dale is only 9 points back and a points gained, would definitely help him move up the table, bit by bit, so there shouldn't be much panic for a better position, but the money conversation probably just quieted down for him, as his team now sits 31 points out.
The pool lead remains at 74 points, as Kristy & Don's team has leveled off to finish the year, it would seem, not continuing to pull away, as much as they had earlier on in the year. Three weeks to go, it's all done, but the final tally.
Grant S. should be comfortable with a 24-point lead over 3rd place, although three weeks of 8-point gains shouldn't seem terribly unlikely, but somewhat improbable. We won't seal this one yet, but the card is being written for teh awards ceremony... in pencil.
3rd place did change hands in the week, as Wes did get off to a slow start, but he recovered to finish even with 4th place Clayton, as the gap is back to 11 points, a race that remains interesting and now with Benson joining the fray, this one isn't close to over yet.
Allan has now had back-to-back weeks in the lead for the Olli. I think I had misquoted the race in last week's Newsletter, as I was hastily trying to complete it, assuming that Wyllie was still there. No, Wyllie had moved out, but with even weeks again, the gap is a mere 1 point, so there is nothing safe, especially when their teams continue to suffer injuries and scratches on a regular basis.
As it was called weeks earlier, the Jordan is all done... Allan cannot lose this one, especially since his team is still only picking up 25 skater games a week, tied for 21st in the pool this week.
WINNING EVERY WEEK
Kristy & Don's team continued to win games this week, even after they've taken the goalie survivor pool. Pekka Rinne picked up a shutout this week and Frederik Andersen returned to the net to pick up a win as well. With this year being the year of the goalie and all, it just goes to show how important a good pairing works for a team.
Rinne was a 2nd round pick and Andersen was a 3rd round pick, so with that revelation, it wouldn't come as a surprise, if a lot of teams went pro goalie in the first few rounds.
It was a quiet week for the rookies and since our rookie leader was the Basement Dweller of the Week, the race became more interesting and all the calls for Dale B. to run away with it are turning out to be rather premature.
Wilton's rookie extraordinaire, Johnny Gaudreau, figured in with another 4 points, which has brought Dale's lead down to 2 points with three weeks to go. Dale's trio of freshmen have to pull their socks together, if they want credit for a rookie scoring title at the end of the year.
LIGHTING THE LAMP
I don't think that this competition is going to work or it will have to be made much more difficult, as teams are still alive in this one and there is only three busy weeks left to go in the season. Kristy & Don and Stacey M. did more than enough to keep their 4-goal weeks alive, while Grant K., Ryan and Stacey C. are all doing well with their 3-goal weeks.
If it was a 5-goal per week challenge, it would have come down to Kristy & Don going 15 weeks to Mike's 14 weeks. Stacey M. would have lasted until Week Eleven and Stuart lasted until Week Eight. That might be the worthy competition.
CHRIS STEWART VS ERIK COLE
This week, Chris Stewart pulled another 2 points out with his time with the Wild, while Erik Cole also had 2 points for the Red Wings, as these two have been running even for the last few weeks. Stuart just can't seem to make up any ground on Clayton in this bet, as he is still down by 4 points, 14-10, with only three weeks left to go.
ROUND 2 IN THE DRAFT
|34||2||Stacey Campbell||Braden Holtby||WAS||G||87|
|38||2||Kristy & Don||Pekka Rinne||NAS||G||85|
|37||2||Tony Dourado||Jaroslav Halak||NYI||G||81|
|24||2||Scott Gilmore||Ben Bishop||TAM||G||80|
|29||2||Benson Greenley||Kari Lehtonen||DAL||G||75|
|40||2||Derek Wyllie||Nicklas Backstrom||WAS||F||72|
|33||2||Grant Saskiw||Ryan Miller||VAN||G||68|
|45||2||Cam Wagner||Joe Pavelski||SAN||F||65|
|44||2||Grant Kanwischer||Cory Schneider||NJD||G||64|
|25||2||Dale Corley||Corey Crawford||CHI||G||63|
|32||2||Stacey McDonald||Erik Karlsson||OTT||D||58|
|27||2||Brenda Farrell||Anze Kopitar||LOS||F||54|
|46||2||Stuart Greenley||Roberto Luongo||FLA||G||54|
|36||2||Leo Macht||P.K. Subban||MTL||D||52|
|26||2||Derek Wilton||Sergei Bobrovsky||CBJ||G||48|
|35||2||Dale Bradley||Jimmy Howard||DET||G||47|
|30||2||Mike Somerville||Jake Allen||STL||G||46|
|42||2||Troy Berkley||Jonathan Bernier||TOR||G||45|
|39||2||Clayton Corley||Duncan Keith||CHI||D||41|
|43||2||Brian Towers||Nathan MacKinnon||COL||F||38|
|28||2||Allan Scott||Steve Mason||PHI||G||37|
|31||2||Wes Moroz||Mike Smith||ARI||G||23|
|41||2||Ryan Miller||John Gibson||ANA||G||6|
There was an idea that this was going to be the year of the goalie, as the 2nd round of the draft was chalk full of goalie picks, although some picks were certainly better than others.
You can also see that there were a number of other disappointing picks, some of which, may have been expected, but others were some decent bets. After last year's playoff run, it was hard not to be high on Nathan MacKinnon, but the sophomore slump did take a bite out of his numbers, but I would be eager to see what he does in his third season in the league.
Coming off the worst week of the season for pool scoring makes any other week look pretty good. The pool did average some more scoring in the week, which was nice and nearly caught up to last week's total points with five less NHL games, which would have been something.
Both skater games played and minutes played by the goalies were down again, the skaters having their worst average of the year and the goalies at their second-worst. It has become a pretty lean time for our players, which has definitely opened the door for some teams to excel, while other teams just flounder in their previous successes (or failures).
This coming week, Week Twenty-Five, will be the last week of the schedule over 50 NHL games, as we'll see 53 this week... the last two weeks will dwindle down to 49 and 45, respectively. Get your points while you can, as they will be even harder to come by to finish the year!
NEWS AND NOTES
On Sunday afternoon, in the pregame pressers, the Ducks coaching staff was saying that with their increased depth after the trade deadline, that players are now in a tough situation, especially if they have been bubble players, to get that solid playing time. Matt Beleskey has turned out to be one of those players, as he was a healthy scratch for the Ducks' 7-2 loss to the Rangers on Sunday evening. Maybe tinkering with the lineup that much, cost coach Bruce Boudreau in the chemistry department... but who's really to say?
You could argue that this was just another nail in the coffin for Brenda & Seward this year, as their team fell off the map completely, after having a good surge in the second segment of the season. They now sit 19th, but that's as low as they'll go, with a 35-point gap to 20th place below them.
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