NHL Week in Review (February 10-16)

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As the NHL season quickly moves on the dangers of a short offseason and some freak accidents are beginning to take their toll. Injuries are piling up for teams in the NHL and that is never a good thing for any team. In this shortened season though, it becomes that much worse as there is no time to wait for players to recover. Players that are hurt will be missing the majority of the season with their teams and some with more serious injuries will not have time to come back at all. This is now the case for Erik Karlsson who suffered a 70% laceration of his Achilles Tendon in his game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. In this game Karlsson would go to the boards to play the puck and would be hit by Matt Cooke. As Cooke hit Karlsson, Cooke’s skate would raise up and cut the ankle of Karlsson creating an injury that would end the season for Karlsson. It was a big loss for the Ottawa Senators who had discovered the talented defenceman in a breakout year last year. Karlsson would be the best story for the Sens in their playoff run last year and this year he was a main building block in Ottawa’s hopes to make it back to the playoffs again. Now Karlsson is out for the rest of the season as his recovery time is 3-4 months taking him to June which should be after the playoffs is finished. It is a reflection of what an injury can do in this short season. The Karlsson injury also brought to light another issue in the NHL of those players who play on the fringe. Only a few days after the injury to Karlsson Ottawa owner Eugene Melnyk would let his feelings out Matt Cooke out in a radio interview. Matt Cooke has a reputation of being a goon in the NHL with five different suspensions for his play on the ice. Eugene Melnyk would go after this reputation and claim that Cooke had cut Karlsson on purpose to end the young defenceman’s season. The reputation of Cooke has made a lot of people take a second look at the play to find out if Melnyk was telling the truth and see if there was any evidence of Cooke doing this on purpose. While looking at the play it seems very unlikely that Cooke went into the corner to cut Karlsson as it seems like a freak accident that ended Karlsson’s season. Still it did bring about that age-old question of the purpose of goon’s in hockey. Last week I wrote about fighting in hockey and that I believe it has its place in the game but I also mention my thoughts on goons. Players like Matt Cooke, who may or may not be a changed player, do not belong in the game. Taking up a spot on the bench for someone who can only go out and hit or try to force a fight is just not right. Instead the NHL needs to start looking for players who can fight yet can also play hockey. They don’t have to have the hands and the speed of the top players but the ability to score or at the least pull a Tomas Holmstrom and screen the goalie should be a requirement. Players need to bring something other than just toughness to the game to be in this league. That doesn’t mean that fighting should die out but simply that fighters need to evolve into players who can fight while also providing something offensively to the team. Pests like Matt Cooke generally let the fighters do their job while they rile the other team up and that is much worse than a fighter. The small things that these players get away with can be more dangerous to other players. These are the players who hit another player at just the right time to dump them dangerously into the boards yet not get a penalty. They are the players who put others in dangerous situations and these players need to be out of the league. They are slowly losing their places in the league as players Sean Avery no longer will find a spot on the NHL team. Matt Cooke may not have looked to injure Karlsson in the way he did but his hit did bring another issue among the NHL players back to the forefront of the league with yet another aspect of the game that should change.


(Thoughts on the past week in the NHL)

O’Reilly on the Market
The Colorado Avalanche have yet to sign RFA Ryan O’Reilly and it looks as though they have given up on trying to sign him altogether announcing that he is on the market making him one of the most sought after tradable players in the league right now

Olympic Negotiations Continue
The NHL and IIHF are still hammering out a deal for the 2014 Sochi Olympics but the progress seems to be good as both sides continue to talk while Olympic and hockey fans hope that they can watch NHL players in the Olympics a year from now

Jackets Make History
The Blue Jackets have not been in the news for much good in the past two years as they continue to be one of the worst teams in the league but this week they would make a big move firing Scott Howson and naming Jarmo Kekalainen as the first European GM in the NHL

Graham James Saga Continues
The story of Graham James continues to make headlines but this time it was good news in the case as James, who was convicted of sexual abuse and sentenced to 2-years, had his sentenced increased to 5 years for his heinous acts while coaching minor hockey


NHL Standings

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division:
1. New Jersey Devils (21)
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (20)
3. New York Rangers (15)
4. New York Islanders (13)
5. Philadelphia Flyers (13)
Northeast Division:
1. Montreal Canadiens (19)
2. Boston Bruins (18)
3. Toronto Maple Leafs (18)
4. Ottawa Senators (16)
5. Buffalo Sabres (13)
Southeast Division:
1. Carolina Hurricanes (17)
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (15)
3. Florida Panthers (12)
4. Winnipeg Jets (11)
5. Washington Capitals (11)


Western Conference
Central Division:
1. Chicago Blackhawks (25)
2. Nashville Predators (19)
3. St. Louis Blues (17)
4. Detroit Red Wings (16)
5. Columbus Blue Jackets (10)
Northwest Division:
1. Vancouver Canucks (18)
2. Edmonton Oilers (15)
3. Minnesota Wild (14)
4. Calgary Flames (11)
5. Colorado Avalanche (11)
Pacific Division:
1. Anaheim Ducks (23)
2. San Jose Sharks (17)
3. Dallas Stars (17)
4. Phoenix Coyotes (16)
5. Los Angeles Kings (12)


Detroit Red Wings 3 – 2 Los Angeles Kings
– Both teams have struggled this year and it was the Kings who would continue to struggle as the Detroit Red Wings took the win and continued to try to climb back from a bad start the season

New York Rangers 4 – 3 Boston Bruins (SO)
– Two Original six teams would face off with the Rangers looking to get to the top of their division and the Bruins looking to stay at the top of theirs as the Rangers would pull off the win in a close game that would go to a shootout

New York Islanders 4 – 3 New York Rangers (SO)
– The Battle of New York would be the second game in a row that the Rangers would go into a shootout as they would lose this game against their longtime city rivals the Islanders who would stop the Rangers from climbing any further in their division

Edmonton Oilers 6 – 4 Colorado Avalanche
– The Oilers would go down early 3-0 but they would not be held back as they would fire 56 shots at Semyon Varlamov to come back from the three goal deficit and win the game 6-4 in an amazing comeback


Next Week:
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Montreal Canadiens (Monday February 18th; 7:30 pm EST)
– The Staal brothers have helped the Hurricanes to the top of the Southeast division while the Canadiens are looking to continue their rise up the Atlantic Division as both teams are looking for a win to continue to stay on top

Vancouver Canucks vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Tuesday February 19th; 8:30 pm EST)
– Another chapter in one of the best modern rivalries in the NHL the Canucks will finally look to end the winning streak of the Blackhawks who have yet to lose a game in regulation and are the best team in the NHL

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (Wednesday February 20th; 7:30 pm EST)
– The Battle of Pennsylvania goes again as the Penguins take on the Flyers in a rematch of the season opener for both teams where the Penguins came out on top as the Flyers are looking to climb back into the Atlantic Division race

New York Islanders vs. Buffalo Sabres (Saturday February 23rd; 7:00 pm EST)
– Two New York teams that are usually forgotten under the spotlight of the Rangers will face off as both try to get back into the race for either of their divisions with both teams sitting at the bottom

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