NHL Week in Review (Feb. 19-25)

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With the Trade Deadline on Monday the trades were flying this past week as teams began to pull the trigger on deals. With the trade deadline beginning to heat up in the weeks before many GMs were looking to make a deal this past week before it was too late. With the first few deals done teams began to make their last-ditch efforts to either get rid of big contracts or add the last few pieces. With this mentality some major deals were done as the Trade Deadline was in full swing. One of the first trades this week saw the Tampa Bay Lightning become sellers as Steve Yzerman began developing his plan for the future by becoming sellers. The Lightning traded Super Pest Steve Downie to the Colorado Avalanche, who were looking for some grit as they try to make a playoff run, in exchange for defenceman Kyle Quincey. The Avalanche added some much-needed grit to a young speedy lineup while the Lightning seemingly added a good experienced defenceman. That was until the Lightning flipped Quincey to the Detroit Red Wings for a first round draft pick. This gave the Red Wings some defensive depth as they move to the playoffs while the Lightning got another draft pick as they look to rebuild after a disappointing season. As the deals kept coming in many of them were of little significance but two teams made a bigger dent than most. The most active of these teams was the Columbus Blue Jackets who began a firesale as they look to finish last in the NHL and need to rebuild starting with getting rid of big contracts. As they began this firesale the first one to fall was Antoine Vermette who was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for a 2012 2nd round pick, 2013 conditional draft pick, and goaltender Curtis McElhinney. The Coyotes got an experienced forward that they will hope to lean on in the playoffs while the Blue Jackets got a desperately needed goalie and a couple draft picks to help rebuild. With Vermette gone there were still a number of other players on the trading block and one such player became the biggest deal of the week. Jeff Carter was an offseason acquisition, traded from Philadelphia, for the Blue Jackets but he did not perform up to his buildup and so the Blue Jackets decided to move on without him. They traded Carter to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Jack Johnson and a conditional first round pick. The Jackets got a solid defenceman and unloaded the contract of Carter while the Kings got some much-needed scoring help and will reunite Carter with his former teammate Mike Richards. The Kings made this deal but were also one of the more active teams around the rumour mill as they had made their deal for Jeff Carter and only a day later had seemingly put captain Dustin Brown on the trading block. This was big news that was added to the other big name as Brown would now compete with Rick Nash from the Blue Jackets. Both of these top prizes in the trade market are similar as they are both big forwards that a few teams would love to have. Rick Nash may be at a disadvantage as well as he has a limited list of 5 teams and comes with a long contract worth $28 million. Along with the contract the Blue Jackets are asking for a big price for their best player that may make some teams shy away from making a deal. The one big advantage they had been that there was nobody like Nash out in the market but now that Dustin Brown has been put on the trading market the competition has been started. Dustin Brown will be the cheaper version of Rick Nash and will be available to more teams including the Toronto Maple Leafs who are looking for a big forward. There will be plenty of teams looking at Rick Nash and Dustin Brown along with a number of other players as the Trade Deadline approaches and the trading become the most intense with only a few hours to prepare the teams for the playoffs, or for next year.

AS the trades continue to roll on one team is starting to look for one of the most important aspects of the game. The Toronto Maple Leafs have struggled lately thanks, in large part, to the inability of their goaltending to win games. With the goalie struggles of the Leafs taking full focus in Toronto and issue has come into full focus. The Leafs had some good goaltending coming into the second half as Jonas Gustavsson took over the top spot. Then James Reimer came back from an injury and a competition started. This is when the problems started as both goalies could not take over the top spot. This was the perfect expression of the fragility of the goalie position. Goaltenders are one of the most important aspects to any team as they can easily win or lose a game for a team based on their performance. They are also the last line of defence and have a tremendous amount of pressure on them with only two goalies on a team, unlike skaters who can be easily replace. With this pressure goaltenders tend to be the most mentally fragile players in the game. Goalies need to be taken out of a game after a certain amount of goals or they will be ruined for future games. It has been seen all season with Ilya Bryzgalov having mental lapses for the Flyers and many more goalies not performing up to what was expected of them. With the sensitivity of goalies in the NHL it is always hard to find a great goalie and even harder to find a consistent goaltender. The drama of the NHL season is far from over and with just over a month left in the season the drama will not end as the team with the strongest goalie will have the best shot at the Cup.

 

Standings:

Eastern Conference:

Atlantic Division:

1. New York Rangers (84)

2. Philadelphia Flyers (75)

3. Pittsburgh Penguins (75)

4. New Jersey Devils (74)

5. New York Islanders (60)

Northeast Division:

1. Boston Bruins (77)

2. Ottawa Senators (72)

3. Toronto Maple Leafs (65)

4. Buffalo Sabres (62)

5. Montreal Canadiens (58)

Southeast Division:

1. Florida Panthers (68)

2. Winnipeg Jets (68)

3. Washington Capitals (67)

4. Tampa Bay Lightning (60)

5. Carolina Hurricanes (59)

 

Western Conference

Central Division:

1. Detroit Red Wings (85)

2. St. Louis Blues (83)

3. Nashville Predators (79)

4. Chicago Blackhawks (73)

5. Columbus Blue Jackets (43)

Northwest Division:

1. Vancouver Canucks (86)

2. Colorado Avalanche (68)

3. Calgary Flames (67)

4. Minnesota Wild (63)

5. Edmonton Oilers (54)

Pacific Division:

1. Phoenix Coyotes (73)

2. San Jose Sharks (71)

3. Dallas Stars (68)

4. Los Angeles Kings (68)

5. Anaheim Ducks (62)

 

Key Scores:

Nashville Predators 3 – 2 Dallas Stars

– Hal Gill made his first start in a Predators uniform since being traded from the Montreal Canadiens he did not have a great game, as you would expect after being traded, but his new team did beat the Stars

 

Chicago Blackhawks 2 – 1 Detroit Red Wings

– Two powers faced off in the Central Division as the Blackhawks were able to gain some ground on the division and league leading Red Wings who took a break from their 23 game home win streak losing away from Joe Louis

 

Vancouver Canucks 4 – 3 Detroit Red Wings (SO)

– The Red Wings seemingly ran out of steam this week after a loss to their division rival Blackhawks and then  a loss to the Canucks with a last-minute tying goal and a great shootout goal that snapped the 23 game long home ice winning streak

 

Los Angeles Kings 4 – 0 Chicago Blackhawks

– Jeff Carter made his debut with the L.A. Kings but did not make much of an impact instead Dustin Brown increased his trade stock earning a hat trick the day after he was reportedly placed on the trading block

 

Next Week:

New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers (Monday February 27th; 7:30 pm)

– The Hudson River Rivalry took place for the 4th time this season as the New Jersey Devils try to climb back into the division race against the rivals and the leader of the division the New York Rangers who have slowed down near the end of the season

 

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Florida Panthers (Tuesday February 28th; 7:00 pm)

– There is still room in the playoffs as the #8 spot may again go down to the wire with the Leafs looking to break an 8 year playoff drought and beating the Florida Panthers, who currently sit in 8th place, could be a big boost for their playoffs hopes

 

Calgary Flames vs. Phoenix Coyotes (Thursday March 1st; 9:00 pm)

– 8th place in the West will be a tight race this year as plenty of teams are looking to be solid challengers and with the Coyotes currently in 7th place while Calgary sits in 9th this game will be important

 

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens (Saturday March 3rd; 7:00 pm)

– The rivalry continues as the Montreal Canadiens look out be out of the playoffs this year but will still try to spoil their bitter rival’s attempt at breaking the drought with the Leafs trying to build some momentum to start the final month

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