Well, this is the last full newsletter of the season. We're now in the home stretch to the money, as the final week, Week Twenty-Seven is finally upon us.
In the draft, it has really opened up at the top, as Clayton C. will open the final week of the season with a 21-point lead, the largest lead that the pool has seen this season. The previous highs were 15 points, which was done three times, twice by Wayne H. and the other was last week by Clayton. 21 points is going to be difficult to overcome, but the job will be placed upon Stuart G. and Dale B., who are now chasing Clayton and battling for 2nd place, to which only 1 point separates the two.
4th place is a big battle between Wayne H. and Allan S., who go into the week in a tie with 666 points, but Wayne holds the tie-break in goals scored by 4. That is one close race. On the outside looking in are Stacey C., who trails by 7 points and Benson G., who has a 15-point gap.
The sheet pool gets a pretty good recap down in the Stat Pack, so there's no sense in doubling that effort up.
The playoff pool is live and is getting regular updates on the blog, as teams clinch and get eliminated, so keep up-to-date with the blog and be ready to get your teams submitted.
Let's see how the second-to-last week of the season played out, shall we?
There were a couple of 8-point weeks in the draft pool in Week Twenty-Six, so the tie-breaking analysis had to be done. It wasn't quite as easy as it would be between a skater and a goalie, since it was two goalies, but it came down to wins and with a 3-0-0 record with 1 shutout, Martin Brodeur took the title for the second-last week of the season.
This is Brodeur's first nod as Player of the Week this season and it came late in the year, as he starts to ramp up his game for the playoffs.
Speaking of the playoffs, Brodeur has helped the Devils clinch their spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs this week and you could put a lot of emphasis on Brodeur's re-emergence in the game as one of the reasons they were able to do that.
On Tuesday, Brodeur made 37 saves in a win over the Blackhawks, 16 saves on Thursday in a win over the Lightning and then on Saturday, 22 saves for the shutout (and the playoff berth) against the Hurricanes. He's back to just getting the job done, like back in the day.
With the 8 points in the week, it brings his season total up to 68 points on the year, which has him ranked 37th overall in pool scoring, good enough to be a 2nd round pick in the draft this year. In the draft, Derek W. took him 39th in the 2nd round, so he's paid off accordingly, to this point in the season. It does seem unlikely he'll make it into being a 1st round pick, as he would need another 8 points, plus whatever the 1st round players pick up.
Very good week in pool scoring in Week Twenty-Six, as we had the busiest week in the NHL schedule and the pool ramped up the scoring a little and made the Mover and Shaker competition very close. In what looked to be close to a 4-way tie, we did have one team emerge victorious through the statistical audit, as Munden G. picked up 35 points and earned his first nod on the positive side of the ledger this season.
Munden has had two Basement Dweller nods, which saw him as low as 19th spot in the standings, but the last month and a bit has been very good for his team and they've climbed up and made themselves a little bit more respectable.
Munden owes his big week to three players, Dustin Brown, Pascal Dupuis and Rick Nash, who all picked up 6 points in the week and made up for over half of his points in the week. He also received some help from goalie Michal Neuvirth, who had 4 points as well. There were a few zeroes in his total this week, but overall, it was just one of his better weeks of the season.
It wasn't Munden's best week of the year, in Week Twenty-Three, he did have a 39-point week, which was an awesome week, but it was overshadowed badly by Allan S..
For the segment scoring, Munden's team has seen some huge improvements, having destroyed his previous two segments of the season in the final segment of the year. Through Week Twenty-Six, he has seen 224 points in eight weeks, while the previous two 9-week segments only saw 172 and 179 points. That's some huge gains, but in this sprint of one season, this kind of jump doesn't mean a great deal.
I don't think we've seen this too often, but the team that had the Player of the Week actually sits as the Basement Dweller. That's unheard of.
Derek W. only managed to pick up 18 points in Week Twenty-Six and 8 of those points came from Martin Brodeur. There were seven active players on his team that were restricted to zero points, which hurt his team greatly and in this higher-scoring week, 18 points was not going to cut it to stay out of the basement.
The high scoring week also saw the closing the gap between Derek and last place, Darren S., to only 10 points. The race for the overall basement position is on and getting a little bit more exciting. I would like to say that last place in the draft this year would get first pick in next year's draft, but I just cannot guarantee it. It's something that I might move forward with, but we'll see.
Things are tightening up a little bit in the selection sheet pool, as the top four teams have collapsed in on each other a little bit more and I think the number of races for the money is now officially shrunk down to a more manageable number.
The top four teams saw no change in position, but the points were a little closer. Jeff E. has all but won the pool with a a 52-point lead going into the final week of the season, but 2nd through 4th will be a good jockeying race. Don D. has a 13-point lead on Clayton C. in 4th, while Zac H. is in the middle, only 7 back of Don and 6 up on Clayton. Those are numbers that can be moved and shifted around a little bit for the final week.
The last money spot is now down to two teams, Caterina F. and Justin L., who are now separated by 13 points, but Justin has a 29-point gap on 7th place, so I think it's fair to assume that we should see nothing new in there. Caterina does have a fair buffer, but like the money races above, I wouldn't call 13 points safe.
With both the weekly-best in goals scored and point totals, Caterina wholly deserves moving up into the money this season, picking up 79 points and 28 goals in the process. Her team has been one of the hotter sides in the pool over the last month and it is now paying off for her. She owes her big week to Cory Schneider (6 points), Pascal Dupuis (6), Henrik Sedin (5), Steven Stamkos (5), Tyler Ennis (5) and five players with 4 points each. Caterina is another one of those teams that have used up all seven of their trades this year and it has certainly helped her side climb among the elite in the pool, especially in a very competitive year.
A couple of teams saw gains in the standings of four positions, as Scott G.'s 2nd team and Chris M. each pushed a little harder in Week Twenty-Six and did well doing so. Scott's team moved from 12th to 8th, while Chris' team is on the verge of the top 10, climbing from 15th to 11th.
Only one more week of action left and it looks like it could be a doozy. The last day of the season is Saturday and everyone plays, so the money positions could change hands on the final day of action, which is awfully exciting.
NEWS AND NOTES
The Chicago Blackhawks were without play-making forward Andrew Brunette on Sunday evening, as he has been listed as out day-to-day with a lower-body injury. There doesn't seem to be much concern in the Blackhawks' line-up, as this could act as just resting before the playoffs, which is a good move, especially with Chicago already clinched. Brunette may miss some more time down the stretch here, as they have mentioned an injury and they would want him to be 100% before they started playing.
It looks like the Red Wings made a quick roster substitution before somewhat of a meaningless game for themselves against the Panthers, as Kyle Quincey drew back in for Ian White, scratch for scratch, but it also looks like Quincey could be in suspension trouble, after receiving a major and a game for elbowing in the contest. Nevertheless, White did come out for a game and I would imagine that he'll draw back in this coming week.
The Ottawa Senators were on the verge of clinching a playoff spot on Sunday afternoon, when they took on the Islanders, but even with no guarantee of a spot, the team still decided to scratch both Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson against the lowly Isles and it paid off for them. The Senators still earned a 5-1 win and their spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs and I would believe that the Senators will be looking to preserve some energy and healthy bodies for the playoffs, which start in nine days.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
The final Hockey Night In Canada is a part of the final day of the regular season, a day where every team in the NHL hits the ice. So with that being said, it should be an automatic that the day should feature a triple-header and it most certainly does. Five Canadian teams on the broadcast, two of which are heading to the playoffs and the other three are going straight into post-season preparations.
In the afternoon game, the Ottawa Senators will travel down to New Jersey to face the Devils in a match between two playoff-bound teams in the East. Both sides will have a couple of games in the week before the finale and this game has the potential to be worth a different spot in the standings, as the Devils are 4 points up on the Sens for 6th in the East. If the week plays out the Sens' way, we could have a game that means something in the East. Leading all players in the money conversation, Ilya Kovalchuk, who belongs to Allan S. and will be key if Allan wants to move up into 4th this week. Kovalchuk is 12th in overall pool scoring this season with 80 points in 74 games and has been a solid player for Jersey all year long.
In the second game of the day on HNIC, the Leafs and Habs go head-to-head in a non-playoff match-up, in a game mostly played for pride. There is a chance that the Habs could overtake the Leafs in the standings, but like the Devils and Sens situation, both teams would need the results to go in a specific fashion to have a chance. Otherwise, this game will likely mean nothing in the end, except padding the numbers. In the money race, Wayne H. is still riding Phil Kessel into the ground. Wayne is currently defending 4th spot away from Allan and Kessel is providing a great level of defense in the standings. Kessel goes into the final week of the season 14th overall in pool scoring, with 78 points in 79 games.
Finally, in the late game, the Oilers and Canucks will meet in Vancouver in a game that will likely mean a whole lot more to the Canucks, who are battling for the conference lead and the President's Trophy, than the Oilers, who are likely going to finish the year in 14th spot in the West. The Canucks go into the final week of the season atop of the West and 2nd in the league, thanks to the tie-breakers, so they'll need a perfect week to get the job done. Leading the way for players in the money conversation is Jordan Eberle, who belongs to Stacey C., who sits just outside of the money, but should still be in the conversation. Stacey only sits 7 points out of the money and will need Eberle's production (75 points in 75 games) to help turn the tides.
And once the Canucks and Oilers are done... there will be a complete statistical audit on Sunday and we'll officially crown the winners of both the Draft and Sheet pools.