NHL Week in Review (February 3-9)

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There was no question that the conversation would start this year and that it would not take long to start. As soon as the talk of the CBA would finish and the talk about what the short season would do to teams the next subject up would always be violence in the game. The NHL is in a very unique place in this debate as the battle against violence in sports has come to every contact sport. The NHL is different though as they are the only contact sport that makes it legal to fight during the game. The NHL have both the contact of hitting on every play plus the added trauma of players fighting throughout their careers. The violence debate in hockey usually centres around this ability to fight along with the hitting throughout the game. The debate around fighting would once again arise only a few weeks into the hockey season as two fights would immediately bring about the debate around fighting. The first would be in a game that many would not see as a fighting game. It would be between the usually not tough Tampa Bay Lightning and the always tough Philadelphia Flyers. It would start in the first period when Zac Rinaldo would take on BJ Crombeen in a fight that was meant to be payback for the way Crombeen had been playing. As the fight progress Rinaldo would hit Crombeen with a big right sending Tampa’s only fighter to the ground. As Crombeen went down Rinaldo did not stop as he fired two more right hands with Crombeen on the ground. This would not go over well with the Lighting and team captain Vincent Lecavalier would take on Max Talbot in essentially a payback fight. Lecavalier would win the fight and as Talbot went to the ground the Tampa Bay captain would throw another punch as a way of sending a message. It would not be the only fighting story of the week though as a matchup between the Phoenix Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks would become a main story throughout the week. The matchup would be the first time that Raffi Torres would take the ice against the Chicago Blackhawks since he hit Marian Hossa in last year’s playoffs. The hit would send both players out of the playoffs with Hossa suffering a concussion and Torres receiving a long suspension. Torres would play his first game back against the team that still had the memory of the Hossa hit fresh in their minds. It wouldn’t take long for them to get their revenge either as Torres would step on to the ice for the first time in the game and be met by Jamal Mayers for a fight. It was clear that this fight was payback for the last time these two teams faced off and it brought up a strange part of the NHL. It is known as “The Code” and truly it cannot be identified by anyone. The code is an unwritten rulebook between players and many times it centres around violence in the game. The rules in the code are rules that are not enforced by the NHL or the any team instead they are enforced by the players on the ice. It is essentially a set of rules that stops things from getting out of hand on the ice. There are no set rules but any hockey fan or hockey player knows when someone had broken the rules. It can all come down to a simple fact though and that is that no player should be able to take liberties on the ice. A hit that was just too high or low or even someone going after a past injury are all ways to break the code. The punishment for breaking the code is a physical one as a player who breaks the code will likely be in a fight soon enough. This is the way that the NHL players keep the play on the ice in check and although the code seems to continually change it is one that works. The more afraid players are of retribution the less likely they are to push the rules. It may not be the most civilized way to do things but suspensions and fines do not do the trick when players get away with so many little things that they will never get disciplined for. The code would come into play this week in the NHL and despite the call for fighting to stop it will continue to exist in the NHL. Fighting in the NHL may eventually go extinct but that is the point where it begins to get more dangerous as players have nothing stopping them from taking it just too far. Fighting has a place in the game, even if the pure fighter does not, and it should stay in just to keep everyone in order.

 

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

The Strange case of Tim Thomas
Tim Thomas had already made headlines when he decided to take the year off and now he makes more headlines as he was traded to the New York Islanders who will simply pay his salary to get to the Salary cap minimum and will never see him in an Isles jersey

Sochi a year away
This week marked the official countdown of one year until the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and for the NHL is marked a step closer to the deadline in making a decision as to whether the NHL players will be allowed to participate in the Olympics

Ovi disappears
Alexander Ovechkin was once heralded as one of the best players in the world and would excite fans like nobody else but lately that has not been the case as he only has 7 points this year and has simply not been the star he used to be

Short Season still making an impact
As the season continues there is already plenty of teams looking like they might suffer from it as teams like the Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, and Los Angeles Kings are all at the bottom of their divisions suffering from a slow start that will make a long climb up for the playoffs

 

NHL Standings

 

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division:
1. New Jersey Devils (17)
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (16)
3. Philadelphia Flyers (11)
4. New York Rangers (10)
5. New York Islanders (9)
Northeast Division:
1. Boston Bruins (15)
2. Toronto Maple Leafs (14)
3. Ottawa Senators (14)
4. Montreal Canadiens (13)
5. Buffalo Sabres (11)
Southeast Division:
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (12)
2. Carolina Hurricanes (11)
3. Winnipeg Jets (11)
4. Florida Panthers (9)
5. Washington Capitals (7)

 

Western Conference

Central Division:
1. Chicago Blackhawks (20)
2. Nashville Predators (14)
3. Detroit Red Wings (13)
4. St. Louis Blues (13)
5. Columbus Blue Jackets (8)
Northwest Division:
1. Vancouver Canucks (16)
2. Minnesota Wild (11)
3. Edmonton Oilers (11)
4. Calgary Flames (8)
5. Colorado Avalanche (8)
Pacific Division:
1. Anaheim Ducks (17)
2. San Jose Sharks (16)
3. Dallas Stars (13)
4. Phoenix Coyotes (12)
5. Los Angeles Kings (8)

 

Scores:
Pittsburgh Penguins 6 – 3 Washington Capitals
– It used to be the best modern rivalries in the NHL but with Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin both not playing up to their potential the rivalry has taken a hit and this version would easily go to the Pens

Anaheim Ducks 2 – 1 San Jose Sharks
– The Sharks were one of the best teams in the NHL only a week ago as they had yet to lose a game and now after this loss to the Anaheim Ducks they sit in second place behind the same Ducks as their fast start is over although they still look great

Boston Bruins 2 – 1 Montreal Canadiens
– One of the oldest and most bitter rivalries in the NHL got underway again and like it has been for the last few years the Canadiens failed to get much going with the Bruins winning the game and pushing Montreal further into the bottom of the division

Chicago Blackhawks 6 – 2 Phoenix Coyotes
– It was the first time that the Blackhawks would step on to the ice against Raffi Torres who had been suspended since hitting Marian Hossa and causing a concussion and to welcome Torres back they would fight him immediately and put up 6 goals, even if Torres scored one of his own

 

Next Week:
Los Angeles Kings vs. Detroit Red Wings (Sunday February 10th; 12:30 pm EST)
– The Kings and the Red Wings are two teams that were expected to be much better than they are showing this year with the Wings only starting to show signs of life in the Central and the Kings unable to capture that Stanley Cup magic from last year

New York Rangers vs. Boston Bruins (Tuesday February 12th; 7:30 pm EST)
– Whenever two Original Six teams face off it is always a war and the way these two teams face off that should stay true as the Bruins look to remain on top of the Northeast and the Rangers look to get back to the top of the Atlantic

St. Louis Blues vs. Detroit Red Wings (Wednesday February 13th; 7:30 pm EST)
– It is an old rivalry but still a good one as the Blues are back to being a powerful team while the Red Wings are trying to continue to climb back out of their slow start while the Blues are trying to prevent a let down

Ottawa Senators vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (Saturday February 16th; 7:00 pm EST)
– The Battle of Ontario takes place for the first time this year Ottawa takes on Toronto in a battle that finally means something for both teams after years of these teams sitting in the bottom of the Northeast division

Comments
2 Responses to “NHL Week in Review (February 3-9)”
  1. Anonymous says:

    The Code is a set of unwritten rules that is limited only by the player’s imagination. It changes from player to player and from game to game. The player who is deciding what is against The Code is usually angry, emotional and totally biased, using guidelines that are not documented. If you want an alternative view of The Code, check out this post on my blog – http://itsnotpartofthegame.blogspot.ca/2013/02/an-alternate-view-of-code-in-hockey.html

    If The Code worked then we wouldn’t see any cheap shots on players. You wouldn’t have players being attacked after they laid a hard but clean hit on an opponent. Goons starting a fight in the first 3 seconds of a game, or in the last minute of a blow-out, would be gone. And you certainly would not have had a Bertuzzi-Moore or McSorley-Brashear incident. It’s simply a mythical set of rules that allow players to elevate revenge to some honorable purpose.

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