NHL Week in Review (Oct. 9-15)

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Fighting in the NHL is an essential part to the game no matter what anyone would like to say about fighting being unnecessary in the game. Much like hitting in the NHL Fighting has been much maligned over the past years as the NHL tries to make their sport fan friendly for the audience. Removing fighting has been discussed many times but repeatedly has been met with resistance from players and fans. I am on the side of keeping fighting as it serves a purpose in hockey as a way to instantly change momentum by winning the fight or at least putting on a good show for your team and the fans. It immediately brings fans back into the game if the team has fallen behind and pumps up the rest of the players who want to go out and sacrifice like the other guy just did. Fighting does not seem to be on its way out of the NHL even after many people used the tragic deaths of three NHL enforcers in the offseason to prove that fighting takes its toll. With fighting seemingly safe there have been a number of fights already in the NHL and all have been a way to pump up their team. With this energy going into a fight and the reasoning an enforcer can easily get over excited and do something he regrets. This was true for Pittsburgh Penguins’ Arron Asham. Asham is a new age enforcer who has the skill to play, although not at a superstar level, but will still drop the gloves if he feels he needs to. Aham did this in a game against the Washington Capitals. Asham took on Jay Beagle and knocked him out with a few right hands. The general rule between fighters is to respect each other after the fight especially if the opposing player could be hurt. Asham seemed to forget this in the heat of battle when, as he skated to the box, he made gestures like he was sleeping referring to his opponent. The gestures immediately angered every NHL analyst and player as the unwritten rule of respect was broken. This is one of the cardinal sins in the NHL as disrespect is dealt with in a very physical way. Luckily for Asham he may have stopped any retribution with is classy act in the post game interview where he said that his actions were classless and he apologized for what he had done. This was a great thing to hear from the enforcer as he realized he had done something wrong and apologized for what he had done. Although he apologized and the majority of hockey specialists have forgiven him the NHL has not. With the NHL executives keeping a close eye on everything, especially head shots, Brendan Shanahan got another responsibility as the NHL has vowed to crack down on unsportsmanlike play. The main reason for this was Asham who could face a suspension or fine at some point for his actions. Whether or not you agree with a suspension the NHL has a new crusade that could be a distraction from head hits for a short period at least. With an existing rule in place, that seems to have been forgotten due to the head hits, the NHL will begin to crack down on celebrations both on the ice and off. Arron Asham could be the first victim as he brought the discussion to light and could be used as the poster boy for the NHL’s new focus. Look for the belt to tighten around these celebrations that could range from what Asham did to goal celebrations depending on how the NHL wants to interpret the rule. This is just another mission for Shanahan as the NHL seems to be grasping at every small thing that anyone criticizes. It seems as though Gary Bettman is playing doctor more than trying to prevent things he is trying to stop things from getting out of hand after they happen. The NHL cannot keep going like this as the U.S. continues to lose interest and they continue to go through issue after issue with no real solutions as of yet. With the resurrected rule in place one thing is for sure Brendan Shanahan’s hair might begin to turn grey and the bags will continue to grow under his eyes as he continues to hold the toughest job in the NHL and continues to have more to look at every day.

Finally to some good news, especially if you are a Penguins fan, as superstar Sidney Crosby has finally been cleared for contact. Crosby is the golden child of the NHL and is considered the best hockey player in the world. He has done little to disprove this theory as he seems to continue to impress everyone from year to year. He did not have this opportunity to impress for the last half of last year as he was hit by David Steckel and looked dazed. Crosby continued to play until he was hit a few games later by Victor Hedman. After the Hedman hit Crosby the superstar was diagnosed with a concussion that ended his season. Not only did it end his season last year but Crosby has yet to practice fully with his team and has not been cleared for contact. That is until this week as Crosby was finally cleared for contact in practice and has finally taken his next step towards returning to the NHL. After months of no progress Crosby tried a new and somewhat controversial treatment called Chiropractic Neurology that focuses on the head through spinal and chiropractic practices. After Crosby’s visit he felt much better and lost his nagging balance issues and headaches. With this breakthrough Crosby began his recovery period which would have seen him playing this year if he had been able to start sooner. Crosby seems to be a for sure to return this year as he will now go through contact drills to begin his return to regular playing time. Crosby won’t be back that quick as he is only doing light contact but within the next few months he will return to the Penguins as their top centre and continue a great career. The biggest question for him will be whether or not he will be able to return to his former self or if he will never be the same player. Having a concussion as serious as his may wonder into his mind when playing and he might not be as willing to go into the tough places for a subconscious fear that he may suffer another setback. Only time will tell as Crosby has finally made progress towards his return and the NHL and Penguins cannot wait for him to get back to regular playing time.

 

Standings

Eastern Conference

 

Atlantic Division:

1. Pittsburgh Penguins (8)

2. Philadelphia Flyers (7)

3. New York Islanders (6)

4. New Jersey Devils (6)

5. New York Rangers (2)

Northeast Division:

1. Toronto Maple Leafs (6)

2. Buffalo Sabres (6)

3. Boston Bruins (4)

4. Montreal Canadiens (3)

5. Ottawa Senators (2)

Southeast Division:

1. Washington Capitals (8)

2. Carolina Hurricanes (5)

3. Florida Panthers (4)

4. Tampa Bay Lightning (4)

5. Winnipeg Jets (0)

 

Western Conference

 

Central Division:

1. Detroit Red Wings (8)

2. Chicago Blackhawks (5)

3. Nashville Predators (5)

4. St. Louis Blues (4)

5. Columbus Blue Jackets (1)

Northwest Division:

1. Colorado Avalanche (8)

2. Minnesota Wild (6)

3. Vancouver Canucks (5)

4. Edmonton Oilers (3)

5. Calgary Flames (2)

Pacific Division:

1. Dallas Stars (8)

2. Phoenix Coyotes (5)

3. Los Angeles Kings (5)

4. Anaheim Ducks (4)

5. San Jose Sharks (2)

 

NHL Three Stars
1. Phil Kessel, RW (Toronto)

5 G

3 A

8 P

7 +/-


2. John Tavares, C (N.Y. Islanders)

5 G

3 A

8 P

4 +/-

 

3. Kari Lehtonen, G (Dallas)

4-0-0

1.48 GAA

.955 avg

0 SO

 

Key Scores:

Montreal Canadiens 5 – 1 Winnipeg Jets

– The Winnipeg Jets were welcomed back to the NHL rudely after being blown out in front of a capacity crowd in Winnipeg by the Montreal Canadiens

 

Philadelphia Flyers 5 – 4 Vancouver Canucks

– The matchup of the last two Stanley Cup losers saw the new look Flyers take the win but did not come out of the game easy against the Canucks

 

Washington Capitals 3 – 2 Pittsburgh Penguins (OT)

– Event without Sidney Crosby the Pens and Caps rivalry took off again with the game extremely close and finishing in a Capitals overtime win thanks to their superstar Alexander Ovechkin

 

Los Angeles King 3 – 2 Philadelphia Flyers (OT)

– Mike Richards made his return to Philadelphia after being traded in the offseason and made an impact setting up the overtime goal for the L.A. Kings win over the Flyers

 

Phoenix Coyotes 4 – 1 Winnipeg Jets

– The old Jets and New Jets faced off on Sunday as the Jets looked to get their first win over the Coyotes but it was not to be as the Jets were dreadfully outplayed by Phoenix

 

The Week Ahead:

Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (Mon. Oct. 17th; 7:30 pm)

– The Battle of the Sunshine State kicks off with the struggling Panthers looking to get back on tracks against a very good Lightning squad

 

Edmonton Oilers vs. Calgary Flames (Tue. Oct. 18th; 9:30 pm)

– The Battle of Alberta is here again as the Oilers and Flames face off with the Flames looking to get back to their winning ways while the Oiler try to continue their good start

 

Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers (Thurs. Oct. 20th; 7:00 pm)

– A matchup of polar opposites as the bruising Flyers take on the quick Capitals with both teams looking to get on a hot streak to start the season

 

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens (Sat. Oct. 22nd; 7:00 pm)

– The Montreal and Toronto rivalry goes to the second round as the Canadiens look to avenge their opening night loss against their bitter rivals in Toronto

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