NHL Week in Review (Oct. 6-8)

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The NHL has gone through some changes this year after the growing concern over the injuries in the game. With Sidney Crosby remaining out due to a concussion the NHL has begun to take precautions in order to stop the head injury trend. With the NHL attempting to save a sinking ship in the U.S. they have also been attempting to make it friendlier for the consumer. This has led to the appointment of Brendan Shanahan as the Vice President of hockey and business operations or the simpler title of NHL disciplinarian. Shanahan has been at work in the last few weeks with a number of controversial hits so far. With a new sheriff in town there has been some backlash as many people have begun to say the NHL is going soft. The complaints are very familiar as the same complaints of hitting leaving the game came up when the NHL made sweeping rule changes after the lockout. The lockout saw a change in the NHL as they changed the rules to open up more scoring. They became stricter on hooking, holding, and interference penalties that made the game faster and ended the era of obstructions to the net. When these rules came out there was outrage as people claimed that the new rules would stop hitting in the game. These complaints seemed to disappear last year when the players adjusted and hitting was back to normal. Now with the new tougher rules on head shots the same complaints are arising as multiple people have said that they are removing hitting from the game. The issue with the new rules is that they are protecting players but are also causing players to let up on their hits with fear of being suspended. The complaining will be heard but if anyone thinks that the NHL will back off on their new approach they are sadly mistaken. Think of Sidney Crosby who has been out for a while and has caused the NHL to lose some money. The NHL will always protect their investment and if being tougher on hits that can take out their top players. Although this tough stance will continue there is hope as hitting will not be banished from the NHL. As with every major rule change there needs to be a period of adjustment for everyone. Shanahan needs to get more locked in on what does and doesn’t constitute a true head hit and the only way to do this is to make mistakes and be overly cautious until he finishes his first season. The players also need to adjust and realize how they can hit properly without being suspended. The rule states that a suspendable offence is any hit where the head is the principle point of contact. This means that players need to begin to adjust to hitting a shoulder or the chest at the initial point of contact. The NHL will definitely see a dip in hits this year but it is not because the hit is a dying art. It is because the players need to adjust along with the management in order to figure out the finer points of the rule. After this season expect the hits to be back as players learn how to hit in the new NHL and don’t rule out the big hit this season there are still going to be those hits for everyone to see. The NHL is an ever adjusting league and they have not changed the league for worse but instead have protected the players and forced the players to hit properly. The hit to the head was never a legal hit the only difference is that it is being enforced now as opposed to earlier so let’s all enjoy the new season and calm down.

Jaromir Jagr announced that he would return to the NHL this year after three years in the KHL in Russia. Jagr has a great history with the NHL starting when he was drafted in 1990 in the first round by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The pair of Jagr and Lemieux changed the Penguins and Jagr went on to be one of the most thrilling players in the NHL. Flashes of him can be seen in many of the European players including Alex Ovechkin. His skill and unapologetic celebrations where Jagr’s skill and it might remind you of the young Russian who has become known for jumping into the class on every goal or creating other celebrations. Jagr was on a tear in his young career as he won five scoring titles and earned over 100-points four times with the Penguins in the 90s. He continued his success with the Capitals in the early 2000s and then seemingly finished his career with the New York Rangers in 2008. After that season he moved out to play in the new Russian league, the KHL, on Avangard Omsk. During the offseason the news of him wanting to return set up flags and buyers. Many thought he was too old, 39 years old, and that in with the NHL getting faster every year they thought that he couldn’t keep up. There were some buyers though as he was offered contracts by the Pittsburgh Penguins and the home to the veterans in Detroit. Eventually he decided that he would sign with the Philadelphia Flyers as they hoped he would pay off. Jagr did as on opening day he seemed to be younger than his age and with the spring in his step Jagr reached a great milestone. Only 8 players have ever reached this level and almost all of them are in or will be in the Hall of Fame. Names like Jose Sakic, Steve Yzerman, Mark Messier, Gordie Howe, Mario Lemieux, and The Great One Wayne Gretzky have all earned 1,600 points in their career. Jagr reached this plateau in his first game back in the NHL. Jagr reached his 1,600 point with an assist to Claude Giroux in their home opener against the Boston Bruins. With the milestone Jagr has stamped a pass, not that he hadn’t already, into the Hall of Fame and made everyone realize that Jagr is back. His performance made everyone look up and realize he still has what it takes to play in the NHL and will be a fun player to watch this year.

 

Standings

 

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

1. Philadelphia Flyers (4)

2. Pittsburgh Penguins (2)

3. New York Rangers (2)

4. New York Islanders (0)

5. New Jersey Devils (0)

Northeast Division

1. Buffalo Sabres (4)

2. Toronto Maple Leafs (4)

3. Boston Bruins (2)

4. Montreal Canadiens (0)

5. Ottawa Senators (0)

Southeast Division

1. Florida Panthers (2)

2. Washington Capitals (2)

3. Tampa Bay Lightning (2)

2. Carolina Hurricanes (1)

5. Winnipeg Jets

 

Western Conference

Central Division

1. Detroit Red Wings (4)

2. Nashville Predators (4)

3. Chicago Blackhawks (2)

4. St. Louis Blues (0)

5. Columbus Blue Jackets (0)

Northwest Division

1. Minnesota Wild (2)

2. Vancouver Canucks (1)

3. Calgary Flames (0)

4. Colorado Avalanche (0)

5. Edmonton Oilers

Pacific Division

1. San Jose Sharks (2)

1. Dallas Stars (2)

2. Los Angeles Kings (2)

3. Anaheim Ducks (2)

4. Phoenix Coyotes (0)

 

Key Scores

Toronto Maple Leafs 2 – 0 Montreal Canadiens

– The Maple Leafs opened up the series at home against their longtime rivals the Montreal Canadiens and were able to win thanks to James Reimer who earned his first shutout of the season

 

Pittsburgh Penguins 4 – 3 Vancouver Canucks (SO)

– The second game of opening night features the defending Western Conference Champs who were beat at home by the Crosby-less Penguins

 

Los Angeles Kings 3 – 2 New York Rangers (OT)

– In the NHL’s premiere series in Europe Henrik Lundqvist went home to Sweden but could not overcome a bad game by the team in front of him as they lost to the Kings

 

Toronto Maple Leafs 6 – 5 Ottawa Senators

– The first official Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday featured the Battle of Ontario where the Leafs looked to dominate but let the Senators back in near the end and still starting 2-0 on the season

 

The Week Ahead:

Montreal Canadiens vs. Winnipeg Jets (Sun. Oct. 9th; 5:00 pm)

– The Jets open up their season at home in a game the fans have been waiting for the return of the Jets as they take on the Canadiens in what promises to be a crazy atmosphere

 

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Washington Capitals (Mon. Oct. 10th; 7:00 pm)

– Two very fast and very skilled teams will face off as St. Louis and Stamkos take on the Great 8 and the new tougher Washington Capitals

 

Vancouver Canucks vs. Philadelphia Flyers (Wed. Oct. 12th; 7:30 pm)

– In what some may consider a Stanley Cup face off the Canucks will take on the Flyers as two good goalies look to take over the game

 

Winnipeg Jets vs. Phoenix Coyotes (Sat. Oct. 15th; 7:00 pm)

– The New Jets will take on the Old Jets as the Coyotes were once the team from Winnipeg and were rumoured to be the next Winnipeg team until the Thrasher folded

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