For the first time in franchise history, Top of the Rock punched their ticket to the fantasy hockey post-season. Their victory in week 11 against Bettman’s Bubble guaranteed The Rock their first-ever opportunity at a championship, as the top three teams in the standings all secured playoff berths with one week to go.
The celebrations will have to wait, though, because The Rock’s work is far from done. The boys may be occupying the first overall seed in the standings, but Donkey Kong Country, Bettman’s Bubble, and last year’s champions Benn Tallon Sens Won are all within four points. The battle for the top spot will indeed come down to the final buzzer in the regular season’s last game.
Since this past week’s matchup was close, 5-4-1, The Rock didn’t take the opportunity to put some much-needed space between the top teams.
This week’s final score may have been 5-4-1, yet The Rock and Bettman’s Bubble were neck and neck for the majority of the weekend. It is realistic to say that the final numbers can be a little deceiving since the goalie numbers ultimately came down to one game, while the offensive numbers came down to a few players hitting or missing their marks.
The matchup was close, with two of the categories decided by one point and four within six points. We took four of the six offensive categories and then only one of the goalie ones. Our opponents countered with two and two, with each team tying the shutout category with zero.
Goals went our way (6-5) along with assists (13-8). We then collected more power-play points 8-2, with shots on goals 75-69. Things were pretty close in goalie wins, where we edged them out 4-3.
Their goals-against average and save percentage numbers were much better, and their plus/minus almost doubled us up, +8 to -14. Penalty minutes also went their way by just three minutes.
Top of the Rock led every day of the matchup, with their largest lead coming after Wednesday, 7-2, and held a one-score lead on both Saturday and Sunday. At one point, we had six and seven categories under our belt, but Bettman’s Bubble managed to keep us at only five categories for the majority of the week.
Thanks to another win, their eighth matchup win on the season, Top of the Rock regained the top spot in the league standings. Somehow The Rock remains a top team despite some lacklustre numbers in the team statistics department.
It’s been no secret the Achilles heel of this team is goaltending. After 11 weeks, they still employ the worse goalie win totals and second worse shutout numbers. The only saving grace in that department is goals-against average and save percentage, ranking in the top four in both categories.
When dissecting the offensive numbers, The Rock does not rank in the top five in any six categories. They are close with goals and shots (6th), but they are below league average in the remaining four categories, assists (7th), plus/minus and power-play points (8th), and penalty minutes (9th).
As The Price is Right winds down with only one week left on the schedule, the battle for the top spot remains as tight as ever. Realistically four teams have an opportunity at that spot, while whoever finishes in second place will also earn a first-round bye.
It appears that the six playoff teams have sorted themselves out, yet only three have clinched to date. Those same six teams all have winning records, meaning the bottom six are still looking for answers.
When discussing our bench numbers, we like to keep our story consistent, and this past week will be no exception. The inability to alter our lineup mid-week cost us the opportunity to play Patric Hornqvist (Florida), who returned from injury before the weekend. His production wouldn’t have changed the matchup numbers. However, with a handful of players not playing in the lineup, we could have used his body to fill those vacant spaces.
Meanwhile, for the first time in a long time, we sat a goalie who played during the week. Casey DeSmith (Pittsburgh) was sent to the pine when Linus Ullmark (Buffalo) returned from injury. DeSmith had one bad game against Boston; however, his numbers wouldn’t have given us an edge in any category had he dressed unless we just used him earlier in the week.
As mentioned earlier in this recap, injuries, whether it was COVID related or not, have begun to take their toll on our lineup.
With so many players missing action, it was time to hit the waiver wire and fill the gaps the best we could.
Jesper Bratt (New Jersey) had been on our radar for a few weeks as his production has been consistent. He will slot in on the wing with four games this upcoming week.
Our next transaction will be viewed differently by a lot of people. Erik Karlsson (San Jose) was once one of the most coveted players in the league. We missed out on him in the draft and watched from afar as his season started as a dumpster fire. The Sharks turned a corner, and Karlsson’s improved slightly. With slim pickings of Swedish defenceman in the league, we had to take a flyer on the former Norris Trophy winner rather than play short-handed all week.
Weekly Move Total: 2/4
Season Move Total: 14/50