NHL Week in Review (Feb. 12-18)

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The Trade deadline is one of the most exciting periods in the NHL calendar as players begin to move and teams begin to add some key pieces to their playoff runs. As the February 27th deadline approaches teams begin to position themselves to make a deal to add that last piece. The deadline is a yearly tradition with fans watching closely to see if their team will do anything to improve their chances. As the tradition continues the unwritten rules also continue on and one of these unwritten rules has kicked in. It seems every year it takes one big deal between two teams to kick off the trade deadline race. This rule requires some important aspects though as it needs to involve either a big name player or a group of players and it needs to be close enough to the deadline. With only ten days until the deadline this big deal might have happened. On Friday the Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators struck a deal that could mean the beginning to a wild trade deadline. The Montreal Canadiens traded away veteran defenceman Hal Gill, along with a conditional 5th round draft pick in 2013, to the Nashville Predators in exchange for wingers Blake Geoffrion and Robert Slaney along with a 2nd round draft pick in 2012. The Canadiens have struggled this year and after a small upswing that gave all Montreal fans hope of a playoff run the Habs slipped back into their losing ways. As they continue to lose the Canadiens become sellers and they did just that as they sold a proven veteran for some young blood along with the grandson of a former Montreal hero. Meanwhile the Nashville Predators are sitting in a playoff spot and looking to improve on their performance last year by becoming buyers. They bought a veteran defenceman in Gill to help out their all-star goalie Pekka Rinne as they look to become a force in the playoffs. With the deal between the Canadiens and the Predators the trade season officially began and that is for one big reason. After one trade is done other GMs begin to work a little harder to get ahead of the others competing against them for fear of a deal being done before they have the chance to make their best offer. This was true for the Tampa Bay Lightning who a day after the Gill trade made their own move. After sitting Pavel Kubina for the past few games to ensure he does not get hurt before being traded the Lightning finally pulled the trigger. The Lightning continued the trade scramble by trading Kubina to the Philadelphia Flyers for Jon Kalinsky and a 2nd and 4th round draft pick in 2012. As the trade season begins the players begin to be positioned on the trading block and the speculation becomes that much more intense. Some players are sure to be dealt and others have many more questions attached to them. One of these biggest names on the trade market is Rick Nash who has officially been placed on the trade block when he submitted his list of teams that he would be willing to go to if he were to be traded. The list included the Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. The biggest issue with Rick Nash is the fact that whoever gets him will need to deal with his 10-year $28 million contract that has him signed through the 2017-18 season and includes an annual cap hit of $7.8 million a year. Not only would the contract be a big burden but the price for the Blue Jackets biggest, and essentially only, star could be more than most teams are willing to give up. The debate will rage on though as Nash continues to be the talk of the trade deadline. There are still others out there as names have been passed around the trade deadline rumour mill. Some believe that if a team cannot get Rick Nash that Jeff Carter could be the next best option. Meanwhile the Leafs are at the centre of a number of rumours including the Rick Nash sweepstakes but not limited to it. A number of names have been spread including Mikhael Grabovski, Luke Schenn, and seemingly a new one almost daily. With one deal already done the rumours are intensified and there will be no stop to them until February 27th. Expect more deals to be done in the coming weeks as the Hal Gill deal is the first domino.

As the Trade Deadline nears so does the playoffs and with the usual push to the playoffs teams begin to try to get in a groove. The team that plays the best down the stretch is usually the team that plays the best in the playoffs. At this point in the season there is one team that is playing much better than everyone else. The Detroit Red Wings have been a dominant team for the past two decades and this continues today. They proved that they could be the team to beat going into the playoffs as they are in the midst of the best home winning streak in the NHL. On Tuesday the Detroit Red Wings beat the Dallas Stars at home to extend their home winning streak to 21 games. That beat the NHL record for the longest home winning streak putting them in the record books for what could be a while. Not only did this immortalize this version of the Red Wings but it also has given them a great start to the playoff run. They currently stand 1st place in the NHL thanks to this streak and are currently the hottest team in the NHL as the season winds down. The streak can’t last forever but the entire NHL will be watching they continue to rattle off wins in Joe Louis Arena. With just over a month left in the season the Red Wings will be looking to extend this streak for as long as they can and if they can, against all odds, take the streak into the playoffs they will be hard to knock off. If they can continue the streak they will likely finish in first place giving them home ice all the way through the playoffs forcing teams to play in the toughest building in the NHL this season. The Red Wings made history this week but they are doing much more as they are clearly the hottest team right now in the NHL. This bodes well for them as the playoffs approach and they look to be the champions once again.

 

Standings

 

Eastern Conference:

Atlantic Division:
1. New York Rangers (79)

2. Philadelphia Flyers (71)

3. New Jersey Devils (70)

4. Pittsburgh Penguins (69)

5. New York Islanders (56)

Northeast Division:

1. Boston Bruins (72)

2. Ottawa Senators (68)

3. Toronto Maple Leafs (64)

4. Montreal Canadiens (58)

5. Buffalo Sabres (55)

Southeast Division:

1. Florida Panthers (65)

2. Washington Capitals (63)

3. Winnipeg Jets (62)

4. Tampa Bay Lightning (56)

5. Carolina Hurricanes (55)

 

Western Conference:

Central Division

1. Detroit Red Wings (82)

2. St. Louis Blues (77)

3. Nashville Predators (72)

4. Chicago Blackhawks (67)

5. Columbus Blue Jackets (40)

Northwest Division:

1. Vancouver Canucks (78)

2. Calgary Flames (63)

3. Colorado Avalanche (62)

4. Minnesota Wild (59)

5. Edmonton Oilers (50)

Pacific Division:

1. San Jose Sharks (69)

2. Phoenix Coyotes (65)

3. Los Angeles Kings (65)

4. Dallas Stars (61)

5. Anaheim Ducks (58)

 

Key Scores:

Detroit Red Wings 3 – 1 Dallas Stars

– The Red Wings extended their home ice winning streak to 21 breaking an NHL record for straight home game wins as they got past the Dallas Stars who became an answer to a sports trivia question with the loss

 

Boston Bruins 4 – 3 Montreal Canadiens (SO)

– The Bruins and Canadiens are at opposite ends of the Atlantic division but the rivalry is still alive and well and this was the case when the two faced off this week as the struggling Bruins had their hands full with the Canadiens scraping by a win in a shootout

 

Winnipeg Jets 4 – 3 Minnesota Wild (SO)

– Possibly the most recent geographic rivalry in the NHL is between the Jets and the Wild who are separated by the US-Canada border and the rivalry was on display in this game as the Jets got by with a shootout win

 

Pittsburgh Penguins 6 – 4 Philadelphia Flyers

– Jaromir Jagr and Matt Cooke scored twice for their respective teams as the Battle of Pennsylvania was a high scoring affair with the Penguins coming out on top and another 5 players got involved

 

Next Week:

Nashville Predators vs. Dallas Stars (Sunday February 19th; 7:00 pm)

– Hal Gill will make his Debut as a Nashville Predator after being traded from the Montreal Canadiens and he will try to make an impact as the Preds try to continue their great season by beating the struggling Stars

 

Detroit Red Wings vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Tuesday February 21st; 8:00 pm)

– The Central division rivalry will be a very important one for the Chicago Blackhawks who are looking to recover from a rough start to the second half of the season where they lost 9 games in a row and beat the league leading Red Wings

 

New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders (Friday February 24th; 7:00 pm)

– The Battle of New York will enter its fourth chapter as the Rangers look to continue their dominance over their city rivals winning the fourth game in a six games series that is 3-1 for the Rangers right now and the Islanders will try to stop this from happening

 

Colorado Avalanche vs. Detroit Red Wings (Saturday February 25th; 7:00 pm)

– The Avs and Wings rivalry has not been as fiery as it once was but with the Avalanche looking to make a late playoff push this rivalry means something again as the Red Wings can put a dent in their playoff hopes

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