Monday, April 03, 2017

Week Twenty-Five Newsletter



One more week!  One more week in the regular season and it's getting good!  Let's review the week and see what we have to look forward to with only seven days left in the season.



Despite being shutout on the scoresheet on Sunday in Columbus, Washington forward Marcus Johansson still finished the week with 1 goal and 7 assists, just barely beating Tuukka Rask of the Bruins for the Player of the Week nod this week.

Johansson kicked off the week with a 4-assist performance against the Wild on Tuesday, following that up with a goal and an assist against the Avalanche on Wednesday and then added 2 assists on Friday against the Coyotes.

The big week for the Swede now lifted him up to 71st in pool scoring this season, making him into one hell of a bargain pick for Brenda & Seward, as they took him 213th overall, down in the 9th round of the draft.  Unfortunately for the pair, that was their only real bright spot in the week, as their team couldn't quite keep up the pace.  More on that a little further down in the post.

There's nothing better than a good number of teams racing for the money at the end of the season.  The second-to-last week of the season saw the race for 3rd place get all kinds of hot, thanks to two of the racers tying in the weekly scoring race at 37 points, but yet, they still hadn't reached the last money spot, since the occupant also had a pretty good week.  Marcie and Ryan both finished atop the weekly standings, but Eric's team still holds a slight advantage, but we'll get into that more in a bit.

First, the tiebreaker!  Goals scored in the week... Dale C. was the best team in the week in goals, at 15, but both Marcie and Ryan both finished with 10 goals each in the week, so we then move to wins.  Troy's team led the pool in wins, with 5 victories, but by a 4-2 margin, Marcie takes the Week Twenty-Five Newsletter's Mover & Shaker nod.

This is Marcie's third Mover & Shaker nod this season, all of which have come Week Sixteen and beyond, catching fire in the latter half of the season and finding her way to the money race.

Her team's week can be traced back to Cam Talbot of the Oilers, who had 6 points in the week, as well as T.J. Oshie of the Capitals, who finished with 5 points in the week.  Ryan Kesler of the Ducks and Alex Goligoski of the Coyotes each chipped in with 4 points, helping to guide the way.  All told, all but one active player had points in the week, which was the perfect blend of  production from just about everyone on her team.

Marcie's team has had a pretty good blend of scoring from her skaters and goalies this season and it has poised her team for a pretty big pay day at the end of the regular season.  Currently, her team ranks 6th in goals scored, but remarkably, her forwards only rank 21st in scoring, which means they are a bunch of puck hogs.  Thankfully, her defense is tops, thanks to Brent Burns, and her goalies are 2nd in wins and points this season, showing why it is good to build your team from the back end out.

Now, does her team have enough to climb up into the last money position before Sunday night?

It's the fourth time Wilton hit the Basement Dweller nod, but we can also thank the rush for penalty minutes for that, but Troy had no problem getting 25 points this week, so why did Wilton's team only post 12 points?

Derek's goaltending really let him down this week, as neither Craig Anderson or Antti Niemi were able to pick up points in the week and his entire blueline was held to no points, which is also a pretty big let down.  Corey Perry of the Ducks and Mikko Rantanen of the Avalanche made up half of his points, each picking up 3 points in the week.

There's one week left and the races are oh, so tight!  Brian's lead dropped to 3 points and his run of five straight Newsletters in 1st place is standing on shaky ground.  Dale B.'s team has been good in this third segment of the season, but only 6 points better than Brian's team in the segment.  This is due to be a really good finish.

The race for 3rd place is now down to about three teams, as Brenda & Seward have dropped off a bit in the last week, so we're now down to Eric, Marcie and Ryan, all separated by 5 points to start the week.  With Marcie and Ryan each working the Mover & Shaker this week, they've tightened up the race and made it more interesting.  The gap between 2nd and 3rd is only 8 points, so that's still a possibility as well.

A record-tying week from Troy's team has made the PIM pool something worth watching in the last week of the season.  Troy's team finished with 56 minutes, tying Marcie's Week Two tally, and now the gap between 1st and 2nd is now 44 minutes and Troy made up 36 minutes this past week.

It's going to be a busy week, 55 games, and this will be a divisional match-up kind of week.  That means that there will be all kinds of happenings and shenanigans.

NEWS AND NOTES

The Anaheim Ducks are being tested, as their blueline has suffered a couple of casualties this weekend in both Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm suffering upper-body injuries against the Oilers on Saturday. They turned around and played Calgary on Sunday without their two defenders and still managed a 4-3 win, so there isn't a great deal of panic, just yet.  Both defenders are currently listed as day-to-day and will likely be re-evaluated today, now that they have returned home for their game against Calgary on Tuesday night.

Both defenders belong to Mike's 14th place team, as his team could fall down to 16th by the end of the final week, but his team won't catch 13th, now 17 points out.

The 2017 season has now come to an end for Detroit forward Anthony Mantha, as a fractured finger over the weekend will keep him out for the final week of the season.  The Red Wings rookie will finish the year with 17 goals and 36 points in 60 games for the club, only a year after the team really came down hard on his conditioning and work ethic, he has turned his career around and very well could be a serviceable player in the NHL for years to come.

Grant's team is among a group that has some play in the standings, as his team sits in 22nd, but just as easily, could finish as high as 17th, if the cookie crumbled the right way.  It will be tough without Mantha in the lineup, but it isn't impossible.

The Minnesota Wild are dealing with an injury concern and are still trying to get bodies ready for a long playoff run of their own.  Jason Zucker suffered a lower-body injury this weekend and he wasn't available to play for either Saturday or Sunday's game, his availability for the week is still up in the air, but if he is ready for the playoffs, that's the team's main concern.  The Wild were also moving players up and down the lineup, including another healthy scratch for forward Ryan White.

Zucker's injury is a concern in the money race, as he belongs to Eric's team, which is trying to hold onto 3rd place and only holds that slim edge over Marcie's team and a bit of a wider edge on Ryan's, but neither is safe.  Kristy & Don were in the PIM pool race, but the lack of ice-time for White has helped to drop their team off in that race.

On Monday morning, the Montreal Canadiens announced that defenseman Shea Weber will miss at least the next two games with a lower-body injury.  The reports are suggesting that the injury isn't too serious, but there is a fear that he could miss more, which would be huge, ahead of the playoffs next week.  The Canadiens are to play four games this week, but Weber is now expected to miss tonight in Florida and Wednesday in Buffalo.

Marcin's team, ahead of this week, currently sits in 10th, 11 points back of 9th, but only 5 points ahead of 13th.  There appears to only be one direction his team can go, if they can't tread water in the standings for a top 10 finish.

It's been a long season for Nashville's James Neal and he might find some extra time to rest, as he took a puck to the face last week and had to sit out on Saturday with the injury, unable to play against the Blues.  His availability for this last week of the season is up in the air, but if he can be rested and ready to go for the playoffs, that would be a huge boost for the Predators, who are going to be in tough, no matter who their opponent turns out to be.

John S.'s team is stuck in that group of teams that could finish anywhere between 16th and 22nd and his team already had a tough week in Week Twenty-Five, nearly finishing in the Basement Dweller position, until his big day on Sunday.  There's not much left for his team this season.

The Ottawa Senators are far from safe, as a bet that heads to the playoffs.  That couldn't be any more apparent than now, with injuries to forward Zack Smith and defenseman Cody Ceci, neither are expected to be available for the team for any of the team's five games in the final week of the season.  Smith is dealing with an upper-body injury and Ceci is out with a lower-body injury, which is already piling up on the absence of both Erik Karlsson and Marc Methot.

Smith belongs to Grant and Ceci belongs to Wes, neither in the money, rather they're both in the bottom half of the standings to finish the season and Grant's team is just dissolving right in front of his eyes.

It was a scary weekend for the Flyers goaltending on Saturday, as Steve Mason was held out of the game due to an illness, back-up Michal Neuvirth took to the net in relief, but he suddenly collapsed on the ice in the game and was taken to hospital, leaving Anthony Stolarz to take to the net.  Neuvirth was released from hospital on Sunday, after staying the night for observation.  Mason was able to back-up on Sunday, but still dealing with the after-effects of the illness, he wasn't able to start.

The Flyers were also without defenseman Radko Gudas, who may miss the final week of the season, possibly due to concussion symptoms, likely related to a fight on Saturday.  Gudas missed out on Sunday's game, but we haven't seen much for confirmation one way or the other.  He'll be day-to-day with an upper-body injury, until it's confirmed.

The loss of Mason was one of the big reasons why Brenda & Seward fell out of the money race this week, while Neuvirth and Gudas belonged to non-money racing teams in Clayton and Scott.  If Mason can put a huge week together, the duo could surprise, but it is a very, very long shot.

The Pittsburgh Penguins were without forward Chris Kunitz on Sunday, as a lower-body injury sidelined him and wasn't able to play against the Rangers.  Kunitz was hurt on Friday night and there is still no timetable for his return, but with the Penguins already well into the playoffs, they can afford for Kunitz to heal up this week, if need be.

For Cam, his season fell apart around the midpoint of the year and his team is nowhere near the money race, so there isn't a great deal of concern.  Cam's hope for a top 10 finish is now in question, but he is fighting with Marcin, who is also having late-season injury problems.

The San Jose Sharks are into the playoffs and they are now trying to jockey for position in the Pacific Division and to do so, they didn't need all of their muscle for their game against the Canucks on Sunday, sitting Micheal Haley for the game, as a healthy scratch.  The injury concerns for the Sharks did grow deeper in that game against Vancouver, as Joe Thornton left the game with a lower-body injury, which appeared to be pretty bad.  His availability for this week appears to be slim to none, as they head to the playoffs, he'll need to be rested and healed up for whoever they end up facing.

Haley is a loss for Wilton, who isn't in the running for the PIM pool anymore and the loss of Thornton is another huge loss for Grant.  Grant's lack of bodies now has him as the favourite for the Basement Dweller in the last week of the season.
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