NHL Week in Review (March 17-23)

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This past week the NHL General Managers would gather together in Toronto to talk about ways to improve the league. The General Managers meeting is usually met with some excitement and a lot more apprehension. The excitement comes with the fact that this meeting means talk of changing rules that many want to see changes. It means time to get into a discussion about the major issues facing the NHL today and how to correct them. The apprehension comes with the fact that this meeting is really only discussion. Rarely does any of the discussion turn into action at these meetings and sometimes the biggest issues do not even get mentioned. The GM Meetings are not the biggest authors of change in the NHL but they do get the ball rolling on a lot of big issues. There were three issues that the GMs would talk about this time around and they would leave one of the biggest issues on the sidelines for now. There were two discussions that took place that have been in talks before and would change the league if they went through. The first was a change of the goalie pads to try to shrink them once again like they did in 2005. The last lockout was a big change in the NHL as rules were passed to try to bring back the goal scoring in the league. This included shrinking the goalie equipment to give the goalies a little less to keep the puck out. The offence went up initially as players adjusted to the new rules but it has not stayed at the level the NHL would like it. The GMs would talk again of shrinking the goalie pads in an attempt to increase scoring yet again. It may just happen but in the end will not have much effect in the long run as hockey is a defensive game in its nature and scoring will never be as high as the NL wants it. Another issue they discussed in this meeting was the icing issue that has come up time and time again. The icing issue centres around the issue of player safety and the GMs realized this. They would begin discussions of a hybrid icing that would prevent races to the puck that injure players too many times. The hybrid icing would keep the race in the game but would be a no touch icing if the referee determines the other team is too far away to touch the puck. This is a rule that could come in to place next year as the GMs seemed to make some progress on the issue. The biggest discussion that took place was that of mandatory visors in the NHL. After the injury or Marc Staal it has become one of the top stories in the NHL and the move towards a rule requiring visors took a step. There was discussion about it and the NHLPA agreed to poll the players about putting in a grandfather rule where new players to the league will be required to play with a visor. It was a step in the direction of creating mandatory visors in the NHL which could be in place in the near future. The one issue that seemingly went nowhere in the discussion was the coach’s challenge that many want to enter into the league. There were discussions about putting in a coach’s challenge but the concerns about slowing the game down and about what could be challenged stalled the talks. The General Manager meetings ended this week and there were some changes that seem to be inevitable after the talks. The hybrid icing and shrinking goalie equipment seem to be on the horizon even possibly this offseason. The mandatory visors took another step towards a grandfather rule and seems like it is on its way to becoming a rule in the NHL. Still the coach’s challenge remained on the back burner and may take longer to come into effect if it ever does. The GM Meetings were the beginning of changes in the NHL and although nothing was firmly decided many of these changes could be seen in the near future.

 

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

Another Casualty
The Tampa Bay Lightning have struggled all season and in a last-ditch effort to turn things around they would fire head coach Guy Boucher who would become the second coach to lose his job this year

The Next in Line
Sean Day became the latest player to earn an exceptional status exemption in the OHL as the young defenceman will become the next in a line that includes John Tavares and Connor McDavid to be watched throughout his junior career

One of the Greatest Turns 65
Widely considered the best defenceman to ever play in the NHL Bobby Orr turned 65 this week bringing back plenty of memories of the great plays and the great moments he provided NHL and Boston Bruins fans throughout his years in the league

Trade Rumours Heat Up
With only a few weeks until the trade deadline the rumours of teams looking to get rid of players and to add players as Jarome Iginla and Jaromir Jagr headline the rumours as teams look to set themselves up for a playoff run

 

NHL Standings

Eastern Conference
Division Leaders:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (48)
2. Montreal Canadiens (45)
3. Winnipeg Jets (34)
In the Playoffs:
4. Boston Bruins (43)
5. Ottawa Senators (40)
6. Toronto Maple Leafs (37)
7. New Jersey Devils (36)
8. Carolina Hurricanes (32)
In the Hunt:
9. New York Rangers (32)
10. Buffalo Sabres (30)
11. Washington Capitals (29)
12. New York Islanders (29)
13. Philadelphia Flyers (27)
14. Tampa Bay Lightning (27)
15. Florida Panthers (24)

 

Western Conference
Division Leaders:
1. Chicago Blackhawks (51)
2. Anaheim Ducks (48)
3. Minnesota Wild (38)
In the Playoffs:
4. Vancouver Canucks (38)
5. St. Louis Blues (36)
6. Los Angeles Kings (36)
7. Detroit Red Wings (35)
8. Dallas Stars (33)
In the Hunt:
9. San Jose Sharks (32)
10. Nashville Predators (32)
11. Columbus Blue Jackets (32)
12. Phoenix Coyotes (30)
13. Edmonton Oilers (29)
14. Calgary Flames (26)
15. Colorado Avalanche (26)

 

Scores:
Chicago Blackhawks 5 – 2 Colorado Avalanche
– The last time these two teams faced off the Avalanche ended one of the longest point streaks in NHL history but the Blackhawks would get their revenge as they would win the game and make up for their loss earlier

Pittsburgh Penguins 2 – 1 Washington Capitals
– One of the best modern rivalries in the NHL has cooled down as of late but there is always some hype when these two teams face off with Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin facing off and this time it was the Pens getting the upper hand

Boston Bruins 2 – 1 Ottawa Senators
– The Senators had a good run at the beginning of the season but since then injuries have ravaged the team and forced them into a battle in their division and with the Bruins winning this game they would get the upper hand for now

Toronto Maple Leafs 3 – 2 Boston Bruins
– The Leafs are looking to break a long playoff drought and are currently in position to do so but one team has been a thorn in their side as they had not been able to beat the Bruins this year until Saturday when they got their first win against their division rivals

 

Next Week:
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (Sunday March 24th; 7:30 pm ET)
– The Battle of Pennsylvania goes again this year with Pittsburgh ahead 2-1 in the series this year and the Pens sitting at the top of the division while the Flyers are looking to just get into the playoffs

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Los Angeles Kings (Monday March 25th; 8:00 pm ET)
– The Kings started the season off slow but have come back to be one of the top teams in the conference and they take on the best team in the league as the Blackhawks look to continue their strong season and stay at the top of the conference

Montreal Canadiens vs. Boston Bruins (Wednesday March 27th; 7:30 pm ET)
– One of the oldest rivalry in the league will take place again this year as the Canadiens and the Bruins face off again with both teams fighting it out for the division as the regular season gets closer to the end

Phoenix Coyotes vs. San Jose Sharks (Saturday March 30th; 10:30 pm ET)
– The Western conference is a close playoff race and the Coyotes and Sharks are right on the tip of that race as a win or loss good mean the difference between making the playoffs and ending up in 9th place

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