NHL Week in Review (Oct. 16-22)

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Sports have always been an avenue for personal achievements no matter what league someone plays in. When a number of athletes are put together the best of them always wants to show that they are the best that ever played in the league. The fans also love to say that their favorite player was the best at what he did. This is the basis of statistics in pro sports as athletes are continually in pursuit of stats while still winning and fans love to see a statistical race. Whether it is a home run race in baseball, the pursuit of a passing record in football, or the pursuit of any of the records held by The Great One in the NHL stat races are always fun to see. This is even true this season in the NHL as there are a number of players that have already reached their milestones and still more who are in pursuit. First are the newest members of the silver Stick Club who have played in their 1,000th game this week. Hal Gill and Joe Thorton both reached this goal this week as they entered a club that includes a lot of Hall of Famers. Another achievement in the same category as Niklas Lidstrom played his 1,500th games in the NHL joining an even more exclusive group with only thirteen other players in the club. Of course all of these games are in pursuit of one of the greatest players in the history of the NHL as Gordie Howe currently holds the record with 1,767 games played. There are of course more glorious milestones including career goals as only one player earned a milestone this week with Jordan Staal scoring his 100th goal. He was not the only player with a goal milestone in mind however as Jason Spezza is four goals away from his 200th goal and Shane Doan is only one goal away from his 300th goal. In this category everyone is chasing the greatest of all time with Wayne Gretzky standing above all with 894 goals. In the assists department Brad Richards and Derek Morris reached milestones as Richards earned his 500th assist and Morris earned his 300th assist. There are some more active assist milestones that will be looked to this year and very soon as Joe Thorton is two helpers away from 700 while Marc Savard will need to wait a little longer if he can return to the NHL to earn his 500th. Yet again everyone is chasing Wayne Gretzky’s record of 1,963 career assists of which Jaromir Jagr is the closest active player with more than 1,000 assists to go in the end of his career. Nobody has yet to achieve a points milestone this week but there are plenty to watch for with Vincent Lecavalier looking for his 800th point and Brenden Morrow and Dainuis Zubrus five away from their 500th point. Of course nothing changes with Wayne Gretzky at the top with 2,857 points and nobody even close to him. There are also plenty of milestones to look to with goalies as many of them are pursuing their own place in the stat book. Brent Johnson is the backup for Pittsburgh but he is still in pursuit of his 300th game with only four more to go. Meanwhile Evgeni Nabokov just earned his 50th shutout and Tomas Vokoun will look to earn 5 shutouts to get his 50th. Everyone is looking up to Martin Brodeur who has 116 and is adding to that lead with the Devils. The biggest competition for this year will be the in the wins column as there are multiple goalies looking for their 100th win. Jonathan Quick earned his 100th this week as Carey Price tries to find his 100th after missing out 5 games in a row with 99 wins. Pekka Rinne is only two away from his 100th while Ray Emery and Antero Nittymaki are both 5 wins away. None of these goaltenders is even close to Brodeur however as he surpassed Patrick Roy last year and is building on his 625 wins. The pursuit of milestones in the NHL is one of the reasons why there are so many diehard fans as reaching these milestones is a great achievement for everyone involved. The rest of the season will see even more milestones reached and watching them unfold is one of the most exciting aspects to watching sports and will only add to this season.

While players try to pursue these milestones and some were being honoured there was some action between teams. As the first set of games finished the Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers announced a trade. Both teams have not had the exact start that they would like this season and pulling the trigger on an early trade will look to help both teams. The Canucks will receive David Booth, LW and Steve Reinprecht, C as well as a third round pick in 2013 in exchange the Panthers will receive Marco Sturm, LW and Mikael Samuelsson, RW. For the Canucks the trade is simply about finally trying to take the pressure off of the twins that has not been done in the past years. David Booth will give the Canucks another scoring winger but he has not performed much this year. They will hope that a change of scenery will help Booth to become a better secondary scorer for them. Meanwhile Reinprecht is simply a part of the deal who will chew up some cap to play in the minors but the third round pick makes up for this. The Panthers really just unloaded salary as they got rid of the $17 million owed to Booth and the $2 million owed to Reinprecht. In return they received two decent players for $4.75 million combined. With the number of wingers the Panthers brought in during the offseason will be more than enough. Both teams seemed to have gotten what they wanted but the biggest question mark will be whether Booth can perform up to his potential in a new city or if he will continue to falter. This will be yet another aspect to the NHL to watch this year as everyone will see who got the better of this trade, the first of the 2011-12 regular season.

 

Standings

Eastern Conference

 

Atlantic Division:

1. Pittsburgh Penguins (14)

2. Philadelphia Flyers (9)

3. New Jersey Devils (7)

4. New York Islanders (6)

5. New York Rangers (6)

Northeast Division:

1. Toronto Maple Leafs (11)

2. Buffalo Sabres (10)

3. Boston Bruins (6)

4. Ottawa Senators (6)

5. Montreal Canadiens (4)

Southeast Division:

1. Washington Capitals (14)

2. Florida Panthers (8)

3. Tampa Bay Lightning (8)

4. Carolina Hurricanes (8)

5. Winnipeg Jets (5)

 

Western Conference

 

Central Division:

1. Detroit Red Wings (10)

2. Chicago Blackhawks (10)

3. St. Louis Blues (8)

4. Nashville Predators (7)

5. Columbus Blue Jackets (1)

Northwest Division:

1. Colorado Avalanche (12)

2. Vancouver Canucks (9)

3. Minnesota Wild (9)

4. Edmonton Oilers (8)

5. Calgary Flames (5)

Pacific Division:

1. Dallas Stars (12)

2. Los Angeles Kings (11)

3. Anaheim Ducks (8)

4. San Jose Sharks (6)

5. Phoenix Coyotes (5)

 

NHL Three Stars:

1. Jonathan Quick, G (Los Angeles Kings)

5-0-1

0.81 GAA

.972 SV%

3 SO

 

2. Jason Spezza, C (Ottawa Senators)

3 G

4 A

7 pts

E +/-

 

3. Tomas Vokoun, G (Washington Capitals)

3-0-0

1.00 GAA

.968 SV%

1 SO

 

Key Scores:

Florida Panthers 7 – 4 Tampa Bay Lightning

– The battle of the Sunshine state saw a bit of a surprise as the Panthers beat out their in state rivals in an offensive explosion

 

Winnipeg Jets 2 – 1 Pittsburgh Penguins

– The Jets took two weeks but they finally got their first win in their new uniforms and over the Penguins who have been a very good team this year

 

Calgary Flames 2 – 1 Edmonton Oilers

– The Battle of Alberta saw the first round go to the Calgary Flames but only by a goal as both look to the rest of their season series this year

 

Toronto Maple Leafs 5 – 4 Montreal Canadiens (OT)

– The oldest rivalry in the NHL was another game older with a back and forth affair that saw no lead last long enough for a team to get comfortable until the final goal in OT

 

The Week Ahead:

New York Rangers vs. Winnipeg Jets (Oct. 24th; 8:30 pm)

– The week will kick off with a matchup of the biggest NHL market in New York (8,364,000 people) and their smallest market in Winnipeg (684,100 people)

 

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Islanders (Oct. 25th; 7:00 pm)

– Last year these two division rivals intensified their rivalry after a game that saw the teams rack up over 300 PIMs the rivalry will enter their first round of this year with the memories still fresh

 

San Jose Sharks vs. Detroit Red Wings (Oct. 28th; 7:30 pm)

– The Conference Semi-Finals last year saw the Sharks take out the Red Wings and the Wings will be looking for revenge this week

 

Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens (Oct. 29th; 7:00 pm)

– Yet another Original Six rivalry that is the second oldest in the NHL as the Canadiens face the hated Boston Bruins for the first time this year

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