NHL Week in Review (January 20-26)

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The NHL is in a constant battle between the old and the new as tradition is constantly fighting the new guard. It is a league that constantly looks back to their history while still evolving as a sport. The NHL is one of the oldest organizations in North America with the Stanley Cup first handed out in 1893. Yet with this history the league has seen some of the biggest changes in recent years than any other league. The 2004-05 lockout would change everything about the league as the old style of grinding out the win would quickly be taken away. In its place would be a new more flashy and much faster style. This new style has been led by the new generation of hockey player as the new style of play leaves more open space for smaller and faster players. As this new generation of hockey players makes their mark on the NHL more things begin to change leading to many debates about how things should be done and how they are being done. It is the constant argument over the traditional way of doing things and what is happening now. This season is no different as only one week in there is already a debate raging about how things should be done. A game between the Edmonton Oilers and the Los Angeles Kings would be tight all game as the Kings would get out to a one goal lead. The Oilers would score a goal in the 3rd period that seemed to tie the game up but the goal would be called back. Sam Gagner would be in the crease and prevented Jonathan Quick from moving across the crease to make the save. With the game almost over and the Oilers looking snake bitten Nail Yakupov, 1st overall pick in 2012, would score a goal with 48 second left in the game. It would tie the game and force overtime where the Oilers would go on to beat the defending champions. It was a great game and a great finish but one thing would stand out more than anything else in the game. After Nail Yakupov scored the tying goal he would channel Theo Fluery with his celebration. Skating away from his team and down the ice Yakupov would go on his knees and slide from centre ice into his own zone then falling down. It was the start of a debate among fans and players around the NHL as the celebration would cause a stir throughout the league. Celebrations have long been debated in the NHL as traditionalists do not like the celebrations that have generally been brought by European players. From Teemu Selanne to Jaromir Jagr and Alexander Ovechkin celebrations have constantly been a point of debate. Many traditionalists believe that there should be no celebrations and that a goal should be scored than just skate away. As the league continues to evolve though these celebrations could be a regular occurrence but that is not as bad as traditionalists might say. Yakupov’s celebration was a little over the top for a tying goal in a regular season game. The fact is he showed just how much fun he is having playing the game. That is one of the key parts to these celebrations as fans love to watch players that are just having fun when they play. These celebrations show how much fun these players are having which makes the players that much more fun to watch. Not everyone will like the celebrations but the fact is the NHL is forever changing and with younger players having a bigger impact celebrations will likely be here to stay.

 

Overtime:
(Thoughts on the past week in the NHL)

RFA Debate
PK Subban and Ryan O’Reilly are two of the best young players in the NHL yet they still remain unsigned by their teams and as Restricted Free Agents they have no other options as they continue to try to get deals done this year

High Flying Hawks
The Blackhawks have emerged as the team to beat in the early part of this shortened season as they remain undefeated through the first week of the season and are clearly playing the best hockey in the league right now

Rookie Decisions
The NHL season has been wildly changed this year with abbreviated schedules for everything and that includes deciding on the future of rookies as the 10 rookies in the NHL right now will stay in the league or be sent back to junior after the fifth games

Buyouts mean second chance
Accelerated buyouts began early this year and for Wade Redden would step on the ice for the first time since 2010 with the St. Louis Blues and Scott Gomez would get a second chance with the San Jose Sharks instead of sitting at home for the season

 

NHL Standings

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division:
1. New Jersey Devils (6)
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (4)
3. New York Islanders (4)
4. Philadelphia Flyers (4)
5. New York Rangers (4)
Northeast Division:
1. Boston Bruins (7)
2. Ottawa Senators (6)
3. Montreal Canadiens (4)
4. Buffalo Sabres (4)
5. Toronto Maple Leafs (4)
Southeast Division:
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (6)
2. Winnipeg Jets (5)
3. Carolina Hurricanes (4)
4. Florida Panthers (2)
5. Washington Capitals (1)

 

Western Conference
Central Division:
1. Chicago Blackhawks (10)
2. St. Louis Blues (8)
3. Nashville Predators (5)
4. Detroit Red Wings (4)
5. Columbus Blue Jackets (3)
Northwest Division:
1. Vancouver Canucks (5)
2. Colorado Avalanche (4)
3. Edmonton Oilers (4)
4. Minnesota Wild (4)
5. Calgary Flames (3)
Pacific Division:
1. San Jose Sharks (8)
2. Anaheim Ducks (6)
3. Dallas Stars (5)
4. Los Angeles Kings (3)
5. Phoenix Coyotes (2)

 

Scores:
Buffalo Sabres 2 – 1 Toronto Maple Leafs
– The Maple Leafs would open their home season against their rivals from down the QEW and they would look like a completely different team as they kicked off what seems to be a very inconsistent year

Toronto Maple Leafs 5 – 2 Pittsburgh Penguins
– Sidney Crosby has been relatively silent since the season began but he would finally find the back of the net against the Leafs although it would not be enough to get the win against a Leafs team that remains hot and cold

Edmonton Oilers 2 – 1 Los Angeles Kings (OT)
– The Kings continued their struggles as the Stanley Cup Hangover has had its effect as they took on the Edmonton Oilers who have earned a reputation as a team that will not give up coming back to tie the game in the last second and win in overtime

Calgary Flames 4 – 3 Edmonton Oilers
– The Battle of Alberta would take place for the first time this year as the Oilers looked to continue their momentum from a big win against the LA Kings but they couldn’t pull it off as the Flames would earn their first win of the season

 

Next Week:
Detroit Red Wings vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Sunday January 27th; 7:00 pm EST)
– This has become one of the better divisional rivalries in the last few years as the Blackhawks and Red Wings have regularly fought for the Central division but this year it seems to be a matchup of the best team in the NHL and a struggling team

Anaheim Ducks vs. San Jose Sharks (Tuesday January 29th; 10:30 pm EST)
– The California rivalry continues as the San Jose Sharks look to continue their strong season by beating the Anaheim Ducks who are looking to earn a few more points in their goal to win the Pacific division

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers (Thursday January 31st; 7:00 pm EST)
– The preseason polls had both the Rangers and the Penguins at the top of the league with many predicting one of the two teams will win the Stanley Cup but neither team has met expectations yet and will hope this game can turn their seasons around

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Vancouver Canucks (Friday February 1st; 10:00 pm EST)
– The Blackhawks are clearly the best team in the NHL as they have gone 5-0 in their first week of play and they will look to take this momentum into Vancouver for the next chapter of one of the best modern rivalries in the NHL

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