Monday, March 06, 2017

Week Twenty-One Newsletter





The Tampa Bay Lightning are slowly creeping their way back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture and it is largely on the shoulders of forward Nikita Kucherov, who has really taken to a leadership role, leading by example.  In Week Twenty-One, not only did he lead the Lightning to a big week, he was leading the hockey pool in scoring with a solid 9 points.

Kucherov played in four games in the week, registering 5 goals and 4 assists to capture his first career Player of the Week nod in the hockey pool.  The week kicked off with a 4-point effort, including a hat-trick, against the Senators on Monday, followed up by a 3-point performance against the Hurricanes on Wednesday and then a couple of single point efforts against the Penguins and Sabres on Friday and Saturday.

The 23-year old is having a dynamite season with the Lightning, as he currently ranks 18th in pool scoring this season with 28 goals and 63 points in 57 games.  It's too bad that he had missed a couple stretches due to injury, but nevertheless, his scoring numbers have him pegged as a 1st round pick, if we were going to do the draft again today.

Brian has the second-best group of forwards in the draft and Kucherov is one of two 60+ point players in that group this season and it's a big reason why his team was able to reclaim the lead in the overall standings, something we'll touch on just a bit later on.

The reigning champ is making a run for another money spot this year and a Mover & Shaker week is the right way to go about doing something like that.  Jeremy's team was pushing for the season-high in weekly points, but ended up falling just short of tying the season-best, finishing with 38 points, but moved up to 4th place in the process.

There was some real moving and shaking in the week, as Jeremy's team started the week in 8th place, leaping over four teams to now sit 5 points back of the money spots and his team is now running hot.

Braden Holtby had another good week for the Capitals, finishing with 8 points, just shy of the Player of the Week nod, but now sits alone atop of the pool scoring rankings with 84 points and well on his way to capture back-to-back pool MVP nods.

Also having a good week on Jeremy's team were Tyler Johnson of the Lightning with 6 points, Justin Schultz of the Penguins with 5 points and John Klingberg of the Stars with 4 points.  Three more players had 3 points on his team, but there were a couple of active players on his team with naughts, so it wasn't a complete effort from his team, but still a damn fine one.

Jeremy's team was running hot in the second segment of the season, finishing second from Weeks Nine through Seventeen and now in the third segment, starting Week Eighteen, his team is 6th, but all the teams around him have somewhat fallen off a bit, hence the big jump.  His team is right in the thick of things and there are three teams within 4 points of his team, so there is still lots of jockeying left to do.

Troy's team isn't the only one guilty of gooning it up at the Waiver Draft, as Wilton did his best with the parameters given, to try and get into the PIM pool race and that will also really take him out of the scoring race too.  Of course, Wilton didn't have the ability to really goon it up like Troy did, but it looks like it was enough to force his team down into the Basement Dweller nod, without much of an issue.

Wilton's team finished the week with a pool-low 12 points and he fell below Tony's team, if only by tie-breakers, but it was a certain eventuality, I suppose.

Derek's team was the unlucky one that had Craig Anderson this season, who spent a lot of time with his ailing wife and there wasn't much he could do about it.  Now that Anderson is back, however, he is still putting up some points, leading his team with 4 points in the week, but that is far from good enough.

Will Wilton's team find some redemption elsewhere?  We shall see.

It's hard to argue with how good the race for 1st place is, as Brian and Dale B. are continually jockeying for the spot.  Anywhere between 5-to-7 points isn't enough to keep the other team down, as the next night, the other team would just find a way to claw back those points and retake the lead.  Starting Week Twenty-Two, Brian holds a 4-point lead on Dale, but he will also hold a schedule advantage in the coming week at 45-39 in projected games.

Marcie's team is now 14 points behind Dale's team, but has bigger fish to fry, as she watched the teams behind hers all gain significant ground after a relatively poor week of 17 points.  The buzzards are circling her spot, but her team is far from dead.  Jeremy, Ryan, Eric and Brenda & Seward are all within 9 points, while Stacey C.is 14 points back and still in the hunt.

How good is this?

The goon teams were living up to their billing in Week Twenty-One and this might be the signal for more to come.  Troy's team finally woke up, as they got Cody McLeod back in action for the Predators from injury, while losing a player or two to injury.  Troy's team finished with 44 minutes in Week Twenty-One, 34 minutes better than Marcie's leading team and that's the sort of gap closing that this race really needs.  The big gain helped Troy into the top five in the standings and his team is only 90 minutes back and they have a chip on their shoulder.

Wilton's team was also in the hunt for PIMs, as they finished the week with 31 minutes and was second-best at it.  His team is 95 minutes back and has yet to see any fight from Deryk Engelland in Calgary.

The goalie survivor pool was good and settled early on last week, so Stacey M. and John S. have another week to really battle it out.  For the better part of the argument, it's really down to Pekka Rinne and Devan Dubnyk, as both pool teams have seen very little in the way of action from their number two goalies.  Nashville has three games this week, while Minnesota has four, both boding well for the pool split again this week.

NEWS AND NOTES

Not much word on the upper-body injury that Damon Severson is dealing with, but it was enough to keep him out of Sunday's game against the Blue Jackets.  The team has him listed as out day-to-day, so we have to take their word for it, but it isn't like they are fighting for a playoff spot, so there's no real reason for their lack of disclosure.

For Wilton, Severson isn't going to be the guy that keeps his team out of the Basement Dweller nod, but with 49 PIM on the season, he can contribute somewhere at least.

Blocking shots has done in another player, as Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk was hurt on Friday night against the Blackhawks, unable to play against the Flames on Sunday afternoon and it sounds like he's on the worse side of questionable to play Tuesday night in Edmonton as well.  He's currently listed as day-to-day with the injury to his foot, but since the Islanders are in the fight to keep their playoff spot, Boychuk would likely take some pain to play, one would assume.

There's not much stock left in John S.'s overall season, down in 16th place.  John's goalies are his focus and Boychuk isn't blocking shots for either of them, so there isn't much loss here.

The Vancouver Canucks lost the services of forward Loui Eriksson on Sunday night in Anaheim, as the summer free agent signing suffered a lower-body injury and wasn't able to return to the team's 2-1 victory.  The early indications on his injury are suggesting that he will be missing the next couple of games, but after that is still up in the air.  He'll be listed as day-to-day right now.

Derek B. had a pretty decent week in Week Twenty-One, but so did the teams around him.  His team sits comfortably in 22nd, 10 points back of 19th to 21st and 9 points better than 23rd and 24th.
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