NHL Week in Review (March 3-9)

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The NHL is full of debates like any other sports league and like any other sports league these debates go silent until something happens. An event has to take place for the debate to fire up and there are plenty of talks just lingering in the wings until that happens. This week one would come up after Marc Staal would go down with what seemed to be a very serious injury. During the game between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers Marc Staal would be sitting in front of his own net. Kimmo Timonen would fire a shot from the point that would go high and hit Staal in the eye. Staal is one of many players in the NHL that has decided not to wear a visor on his helmet and would take the impact of the slap shot directly in the eye. Staal would go down immediately as many thought of Manny Malhotra who suffered the same injury in 2011 and has yet to return to his former self. With significant loss of sight Malhotra has had a long road back to the NHL and currently sits on the Injured Reserve for the Vancouver Canucks. Many believed that this may be the future for Staal but all seems to be going well for the young defenceman who is reportedly expected to make a full recovery. The injury would ignite a debate that has come up time and time again in the NHL as the visor talk began. Many began to wonder why the NHL has not required players to wear a visor in order to save the players from getting hurt. The rule has been debated for years and for years it was believed that the visor was for those skill players only and the tough guys who fought should not wear one. That idea is still around today as a new rule in the NHL states that any player wearing a visor who instigates a fight will earn an extra penalty. The opposition to the rule of requiring a visor has shifted though with fighting taking a new role and a new position in the game. The opposition has become more about allowing the players to make their own choices especially when it comes to their equipment. This thought is shared by many of the players in the NHL as even players with visors believe it should be a choice. The reality is that more players than not have decided to wear a visor and this type of accident is a rare occurrence. It is smart for a player to want o continue their career and so they should do everything in their power to try to do that. This includes using a visor as it protects one of the weakest and most vulnerable part of the body. Then again these players are grown men, for the most part, and have earned the right to choose if they want to wear a visor or not. Putting a rule in to require a visor would not only take that away but it would also become a rallying point for the NHLPA. It would be clear evidence for the NHLPA to show that the NHL just wants to control the players. Whether or not it is controlling the NLPA will use it at evidence of the owners controlling. The change will not and should not come from the NHL in forcing the players to wear visors. Instead the change could from the NHLPA and the players themselves who should learn that they have a responsibility in protecting themselves. It cannot always come down to the NHL’s responsibility to protect players as if the players do not protect themselves there is nothing the NHL can do to stop preventable injuries from happening no matter how many rules they want to make. In the end the visor debate comes down to the players decision and it should remain that way because if the players do not want to protect themselves than no amount of restrictions will help them.

 

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

The Streak Ends
The Chicago Blackhawks and an amazing run and were approaching the all time record for most consecutive games with at least a point as they had not lost in regulation for the entire season but that would end against the Colorado Avalanche who would beat the Blackhawks in three periods

Realignment Takes a Step
The realignment debate continues to be an issue but the NHLPA decided that this was not an issue that they would fight hard against as they approved the new alignment on the condition that it be reevaluated after the 2014 season

Fighting Continues to take headlines
Fighting has remained a major issue throughout the season and the battle of Ontario would ensure its spot in the headlines as Frazer McLaren would knockout David Dziurzynski out cold making many take a second look at fighting once again in the NHL

Getzlaf Gets Paid
With trade rumours swirling and the trade deadline approaching the Ducks made sure they showed the entire league what they thought of Ryan Getzlaf signing him to an 8-year $66 million contract extension essentially removing him from trade talks

 

NHL Standings

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (34)
2. New Jersey Devils (27)
3. New York Rangers (26)
4. New York Islanders (25)
5. Philadelphia Flyers (23)
Northeast Division:
1. Montreal Canadiens (36)
2. Boston Bruins (35)
3. Toronto Maple Leafs (31)
4. Ottawa Senators (30)
5. Buffalo Sabres (21)
Southeast Division:
1. Carolina Hurricanes (29)
2. Winnipeg Jets (25)
3. Washington Capitals (21)
4. Tampa Bay Lightning (21)
5. Florida Panthers (20)

 

Western Conference
Central Division:
1. Chicago Blackhawks (45)
2. St. Louis Blues (28)
3. Detroit Red Wings (28)
4. Nashville Predators (26)
5. Columbus Blue Jackets (22)
Northwest Division:
1. Vancouver Canucks (28)
2. Minnesota Wild (26)
3. Calgary Flames (22)
4. Colorado Avalanche (22)
5. Edmonton Oilers (21)
Pacific Division:
1. Anaheim Ducks (37)
2. Los Angeles Kings (28)
3. San Jose Sharks (27)
4. Phoenix Coyotes (27)
5. Dallas Stars (26)

 

Scores:
Chicago Blackhawks 2 – 1 Detroit Red Wings (SO)
– Many believed that this would be the biggest challenge for the streaking Blackhawks so far as they would take on a much improved Detroit team who were looking to end the streak but it wasn’t to be as Patrick Kane would tie the game late and then score the winning goal in the shootout

Toronto Maple Leafs 5 – 4 Ottawa Senators
– The battle of Ontario is turning out to be a great series in 2013 as the Maple Leafs and Senators are two teams marching towards the playoffs and have but on displays of toughness and skill in all of the games so far this year

Pittsburgh Penguins 5 – 4 Philadelphia Flyers
– The battle of Pennsylvania got underway again and this time the Penguins were looking like themselves as Sidney Crosby began playing up to his level and it would show with the Pens coming out on top

Colorado Avalanche 6 – 2 Chicago Blackhawks
– The streak would finally end as the Blackhawks would enter their 25th game of the season without losing a single game in regulation but it would be the youth of the Avalanche who would take advantage of a tired Blackhawks team to earn the win and end the winning streak

 

Next Week:
Boston Bruins vs. Ottawa Senators (Monday March 11th; 7:30 pm EST)
– The Bruins are once again sitting at the top of the Northeast division while the Senators have fallen off after a number of injuries seem to have finally taken their toll but they will look to make up ground by beating the Bruins and getting back on track

Los Angeles Kings vs. Phoenix Coyotes (Tuesday March 12th; 10:00 pm EST)
– The Kings are a team on the rise as they are finally over the Stanley Cup hangover and the Coyotes seem to be heading the opposite way as they look to change their fortunes and put a wrench in the plans of the Kings

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (Thursday March 14th; 7:00 pm EST)
– The Leafs are simply a better team this year but they have struggled against some of the top teams and they will look to get through one of these teams as they take on Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and the Penguins

Detroit Red Wings vs. Vancouver Canucks (Saturday March 16th; 10:00 pm EST)
– The Red Wings take a trip out West to visit the Canucks as they look to continue their climb up the Central division while the Canucks try to continue their strong play to continue ruling the Northwest division

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