Monday, March 19, 2018

Week Twenty-Four Newsletter

We're off to the record books this morning, as the pool has now seen the first defenseman to hit the Player of the Week nod this season in Alex Pietrangelo of the Blues, who finished with the outright lead in points this week, with 3 goals and 6 assists in four games.

This is only the fourth time in the 11+ seasons (almost 12 full) that we've had a defenseman as the Player of the Week and the last time was back in Week Five of the 2015 season, when Mark Giordano of the Flames finished with 7 points.  The other two defenders to earn this nod, Tomas Kaberle in 2010 and Erik Karlsson in 2012.

Pietrangelo and the Blues played in four games this week, Monday against the Ducks (2 assists), Thursday against the Avalanche (shut out), Saturday against the Rangers (2 goals and 1 assist) and finally, Sunday against the Blackhawks (1 goal and 3 assists).  Certainly, no one saw this coming near the end of the week, since it took him a 4-point effort to go over the top and get the job done.

As for totals this season, Pietrangelo is now the 10th ranked defenseman in pool scoring, now with 15 goals and 50 points in 68 games this season, only 9 points off the pace for top spot, which after a week like this, doesn't seem insurmountable now.

Jeremy picked up the St. Louis captain in the 4th round of the draft this year, taking him with the 89th overall pick and he's been getting a reasonable return, one would say, especially since he was the 17th defenseman taken by that time of the draft.  Very few of the defensemen ahead of him in the draft have been performing quite as well, remarkably.

And then it's back to the record books for the Mover & Shaker nod this week, as Tony hit the season-best total this week, breaking the 50-point barrier with a huge 52-point week!

Tony's week is only third week in pool history, where a team had eclipsed the 50-point mark and the first time since the 2012 season, when there were only 22 teams in the pool, that this feat was accomplished, back when Allan took home the record, 53 points in Week Twenty-Three of that season.  The other 50-point week came in the 2010 season, when there were only 17 teams, which gave Wayne 2nd place money that year.  Very good company to keep!

It was a huge week all around, obviously, for Tony's team, which was led by Nathan MacKinnon of the Avalanche and John Gibson of the Ducks, both having 8 points each this week, the kind of weeks that would usually get you into the conversation for the headline spot on the blog post, if someone didn't get 9 points or better.

Those two were closely followed by Tomas Hertl of the Sharks and Gabriel Landeskog of the Avalanche, as they each had 7 points, while Logan Couture of the Sharks and John Carlson of the Capitals each had 5 points.  Out of those first six players alone, that is already 40 points worth of action in the last seven days.  That is outlandish!

If you can believe it, Tony's team actually had three players, one due to injury, finishing with 0 points in the week.  11 of his 14 players were contributing to this record-setting week this year and it would be crazy to think if those three were able to contribute just 1 point in the week.

What does this mean in the standings?  Well, it means we've now got ourselves a race for 3rd place again and maybe I will save more of that for the Trophy Talk down below.  It's better than repeating myself..

My record book for the Basement Dweller is far from complete, as it hasn't been a top priority over these 12 seasons to collect all the futility records, so we won't go to the book this time around, but I can tell you that this is Wes' second nod in the last three weeks, thanks to the goon squad not exactly putting up the points.  It still wasn't the worst of the Basement Dweller weeks, rather it was a pretty decent week at 16 points, staying away from single digits.  We haven't had a single-digit week since Week Seventeen and that's not a bad streak to have in the overall scope of the pool.

Wes' team remained in 21st place, now for the third week in a row.  Six of his 14 active players finished with 2 points each to lead the way for his side, but four players had no points, only one of them due to injury.

It's been a rough last few years for Wes' team, which appears destined to finish outside of the top 20 for the third season in a row, after picking up his best finish of all-time, a 3rd place money finish in the 2015 season.

Speaking of the money race, Stuart's team continued to pull away in 1st place, as his lead is now 41 points and it should be a good cruise through the final three weeks of the season, towards his second time on the trophy for the pool win.

Dale B. did not have a great week, with only 19 points, nor did Benson at 23 points, which has allowed Tony to creep into the conversation with his record-setting week.  Tony's team, which is red hot at the moment, only sits 9 points out of 3rd place and 23 points out of 2nd place.  2nd place could be tough for his team, but 3rd certainly isn't.  Now we have something to watch and it's exciting!

Also exciting is the plus/minus pool, because we have a new leader!  Brian's team took the overall lead by a point over Dale B., thanks to a +17 week, outpacing his rivals by a fair margin.  Dale's team was only a +8 in the week and the former leader, Steve, only was a +3 in the end.  The volatile nature of this pool means that there is still a lot that can happen in these last three weeks, which makes it really exciting.

Speaking of record-setting weeks... Troy's team set a new season-high in this category, as his team finished with a +30 rating overall!  Tony's team also had a great week, tying his own previous season-high in the pool, at a +26 rating.  Sadly, for both teams, they were both minus teams at the start of the week.

The records just keep falling this week, as Neil's team set a new season-high for penalty minutes in a week, topping Wes and Eric's previous season-high by a minor penalty, finishing with 49 minutes in Week Twenty-Four.  Neil's team now sits in 2nd place for the year, but is still 55 minutes behind Wes' team for the overall lead.  One would think that the lead would be safe, but Neil just made up 36 minutes this week, so you never know!


Of course, you can't have all these records without setting a new weekly-high in combined scoring either.  Yes, the pool finished with a combined 717 points in the week, besting the previous high by 9 points, which only happened a couple weeks prior.  It was a 53-game week, so the averages weren't quite there and neither was the participation, as we were below average for the year in both skater games and goalie minutes, per NHL contest in the week.


One note missed from Saturday night, as San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic was forced from the game against the Canucks, after taking a deflected shot, up into the chest area, catching him awkwardly. He left in the 2nd period, not to return. The Sharks don't play again until tomorrow night and if he does indeed miss some time, it is thought that he would be considered day-to-day. If there are any more updates, we'll post them.

Vlasic has had a pretty good season for Clayton's team and his pool team is now holding out a little bit of hope for 3rd place after a pretty good Week Twenty-Four.  Vlasic has 30 points in 71 games this year, so he has been a good contributor, who could be missed.

Calgary Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie was hit pretty hard by Vegas' Ryan Reaves in yesterday's game, forcing the mobile defender from the contest with an upper-body injury. We're still awaiting word on the diagnosis after the hit, but it was a crunching one and one wouldn't likely expect a quick return after it. The Flames play again tonight in Arizona, so we'll learn quickly, if Brodie can go or not.

Ryan's 23rd placed team didn't really need any help to stay down in the standings, but this will certainly help its cause that way.  Scott's team is now only 9 points back, so dropping down another spot could certainly happen.

Dallas Stars goalie Ben Bishop returned to action on Sunday night against the Winnipeg Jets, but his return was short-lived, as he couldn't make it out of the 1st period without re-injuring himself.  It is of the lower-body variety and the Stars coaching staff had said after the game that they will reevaluate their keeper in two weeks time, which could possibly give him a week's worth of action, before the playoffs get underway, if all things go well.

This also leaves Kristy & Don's 9th place team with only one goalie for the bulk of the last three weeks of the regular season, but their buffer to 11th place, trying to keep a top 10 spot, is at 17 points, which could be made up in three weeks, but they should have enough left on their roster to hold on.

Edmonton Oilers tough guy Zack Kassian was held out of the Oilers again, the second time in a few weeks, but this time he wasn't a healthy scratch, rather an undisclosed injury was to blame for his absence against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday afternoon.  It's unclear as to whether or not we'll ever find out what the injury is before the team's next game, Tuesday night in Carolina, but the Oilers are now coasting to the finish, outside of the playoffs, so it might not really matter.

As mentioned in the PIM pool spot above, Wes' lead may not be all that safe, with Neil's team finding some record numbers this past week.  Not having Kassian in the lineup, although he hasn't been the goon that Wes wanted since his activation, might really put that PIM pool title in jeopardy.

The Winnipeg Jets hadn't had the services of Jacob Trouba back in their lineup for very long this week, coming off the IR only days ago, before suffering what is believed to be an upper-body injury in the game against the Stars, after a collision with Jamie Benn.  By all accounts on Twitter, it didn't sound very good and there could be fears that his regular season could be done, especially if they want to save him for the playoffs.

That's not a definite, by any stretch of the imagination, but if Stacey M.'s team wants to make up that 7 points to get into the top 10, I'm sure a guy like Trouba would be better suited for her team's lineup.  Stacey's team starts the new week only 7 points out.

Finally, some quick notable returns on Sunday... Erik Johnson of the Avalanche missed a number of games on the Injured Reserve, returning yesterday afternoon against the Red Wings, which is good news for Grant.  Patrick Maroon of the Devils returned after missing one game with a lower-body injury, playing against the Ducks and for Stacey C.'s team on Sunday.  Finally, Mark Scheifele returned to the Jets lineup after missing a few weeks with an upper-body injury.  Brian's team is also sniffing around the top 10 and could really use the help of one of his top forwards.

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