NHL Week in Review (March 24-30)

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The NHL trade deadline is right around the corner as one of the busiest times in the NHL calendar will take place again. The trade deadline has become an annual event in the NHL that has taken it to a level unlike any other league in North America. The NHL is in a unique position when it comes to the trade deadline as the league values the date more than most leagues. For the NHL teams the trade deadline is a chance to add key pieces to the team in an attempt to make a run at the Stanley Cup. Other leagues do not value trades as much as the NHL because trades have little effect in the bigger picture of other leagues. This makes it that much harder for teams to make a deal as they do not see the value in making a move when they can go into the free agent market to find something. This makes the trade deadline that much more important for the NHL and next week the date will finally pass and trade rum ours will end until the offseason. Deals are not limited to the deadline date though as teams have already been very active in attempting to make that final run. One team that has been more active than any other is the Pittsburgh Penguins who seem to be stockpiling talent for a Stanley Cup run. The Penguins are the hottest team in the NHL right now with Sidney Crosby returning strong and Evgeni Malkin lighting the league up when he is healthy. That didn’t stop Ray Shero, Penguins GM, from making deals to add skill and grittiness to the team in the past week. First would come a trade for Brenden Morrow, the captain of the Dallas Stars and 13 year veteran of the NHL. Morrow is a grinder through and through who will go into the dirty places on the ice and has the experience and leadership qualities that make him a legitimate NHL captain. Then came the trade for Douglas Murray, the Swedish defencemen who has played on the San Jose Sharks since 2005. Murray is a tough defensive defenceman who would add yet another tough grind it out type of player to the team. The biggest move would come later n the week though as the Penguins would complete a trade with the Calgary Flames for Jarome Iginla. Iginla is a 16 year veteran in the NHL and all 16 of those years have been playing for the Calgary Flames with a lot of them as the captain of the team. Iginla was one of the biggest names on the trade market this year and after denying a trade to the Boston Bruins, which angered management in Boston, he was shipped to Pittsburgh for one simple reason. Iginla is in Pittsburgh to win a Stanley Cup championship before his career is finished and looks to do it this year with former Team Canada teammate Sidney Crosby. The Penguins have been the most active team in the league adding those players that every team needs to make a long playoff run. With these players off of the market teams will be looking to new players for some reinforcements before the playoffs begin. There are still plenty of names on the market for teams to go after and many could have a big impact on a playoff run. The goalie market is larger than usual with names like Roberto Luongo, rumoured to be close to moving to Toronto, Mikka Kiprusoff, despite his no trade clause, Jonathan Bernier, and Ben Bishop. As for the skaters in the market some of the biggest names are the defenceman like Jay Bouwmeester, Ryan Whitney, Mark Streit, and Jordan Leopold. Forwards like Ryan Clowe, Jaromir Jagr, Derek Roy, and Mason Raymond are the top of the scorers who can help. There are still plenty of names out there and there are sure to be more appearing in the last week of trades for the NHL. There will be trades throughout the week and leading up to the final deadline but the most unique part of this season is that there are fewer sellers than ever. With such a short season there are more teams than ever in line to make a Stanleey Cup run as teams will be less likely to sell if they are a part of the chase. This will make for an interesting trade deadline with more teams than ever looking for that final push to the playoffs.

 

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

Phoenix Saved Again?
The Phoenix Coyotes seemed to be doomed only a few weeks ago as potential owners could not get the money they needed together but this week new potential buyers would step forward to buy the team and keep it in Phoenix

Looking Inside for Replacements
The Tampa Bay Lightning fired their head coach Guy Boucher after a terrible start to the season and they would begin a new era as Steve Yzerman would hire Jon Cooper as the new head coach and would make it clear that he was not there on an interim basis

An Undefeated March
The Chicago Blackhawks would begin the season with a great winning streak and now it seems the Pittsburgh Penguins will end the season with one as they would go through the entire month of March without losing a game

 

NHL Standings

Eastern Conference
Division Leaders:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (56)
2. Montreal Canadiens (49)
3. Winnipeg Jets (38)
In the Playoffs:
4. Boston Bruins (46)
5. Ottawa Senators (44)
6. Toronto Maple Leafs (44)
7. New Jersey Devils (39)
8. New York Rangers (35)
In the Hunt:
9. New York Islanders (35)
10. Carolina Hurricanes (34)
11. Washington Capitals (33)
12. Buffalo Sabres (32)
13. Tampa Bay Lightning (31)
14. Philadelphia Flyers (31)
15. Florida Panthers (28)

 

Western Conference
Division Leaders:
1. Chicago Blackhawks (53)
2. Anaheim Ducks (50)
3. Minnesota Wild (44)
In the Playoffs:
4. Vancouver Canucks (44)
5. Los Angeles Kings (41)
6. San Jose Sharks (40)
7. Detroit Red Wings (39)
8. St. Louis Blues (36)
In the Hunt:
9. Dallas Stars (35)
10. Edmonton Oilers (35)
11. Nashville Predators (35)
12. Columbus Blue Jackets (35)
13. Phoenix Coyotes (34)
14. Calgary Flames (30)
15. Colorado Avalanche (28)

 

Scores:
Pittsburgh Penguins 2 – 1 Philadelphia Flyers
– The battle of Pennsylvania got underway again and it was the Penguins who came out on top as they continued to be one of the strongest teams in the NHL down the stretch while the Flyers continue to struggle

Los Angeles Kings 5 – 4 Chicago Blackhawks
– The Chicago Blackhawks have been the best team throughout the year in the NHL as they head towards the playoffs but the Kings have been rising lately and they would continue to do so beating the Blackhawks

Montreal Canadiens 6 – 5 Boston Bruins (SO)
– Another classic chapter of one of the oldest rivalries in the NHL as the Canadiens and Bruins continue to fight it out for the division leader and the top spot in the conference as they would go down to the wire with the Canadiens coming out on top in a shootout

Pittsburgh Penguins 2 – 0 New York Islanders
– Jarome Iginla made his debut as a member of the Penguins but the game was not a great one for the Pens as they would pose Sidney Crosby to an injury early in the game although they would complete an undefeated March

 

Next Week:
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Detroit Red Wings (Sunday March 31st; 12:30 pm ET)
– The Blackhawks are on their way to the division title and the top spot in the NHL but that won’t end the rivalry between the Blackhawks and Red Wings as they continue to fight it out with the Red Wings looking to keep their playoff spot

Nashville Predators vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Monday April 1st; 8:30 pm ET)
– The Blackhawks will be in their second game in as many nights that should give the Predators a small advantage as they need as many wins as they can get if they hope to make it back into the playoffs this year

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers (Wednesday April 3rd; 7:30 pm ET)
– The Penguins quickly took over for the Blackhawks as the hottest team in the NHL and they are looking to continue that trend right into the playoffs while they take on the Rangers who are looking to continue their comeback and stay in the playoffs

Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens (Saturday April 6th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The last time these two faced off the Canadiens took home the win in a close game and now they go back at it as the Canadiens and the Bruins continue to fight for the top spot in the division and in the conference

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