NHL Week in Review (October 1-5)

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The NHL season is underway and it did not take very long for the storylines to be produced as only a few days into the season debates have already started and restarted. Only one game into the entire NHL season and the debate over fighting would become a major issue again. After George Parros was knocked out in the opening game of the season the fight debate would begin like it has every year with more pushback on fighting in hockey after the freak accident. Then in the second day of the season a question would be answered as Patrick Roy would blow up behind the bench breaking the partition between the two team benches. It would show what many people had suspected in that Roy is still the fiery person he had been when he played. These were the stories that made headlines in the first few days of the NHL season but it was a different set of stories that may have been the most interesting. Entering a new season the NHL would see many changes and many of these changes would fall to the background behind the major story lines. Yet their effects would be seen in a big way for the first few days and could be seen throughout the season. The new season brings in a new set of rules that have been discussed and approved throughout the offseason and in the preseason. The first change of the rules happened earlier in the offseason when the NHL and NHLPA approved the requirement of a visor for all players. This rule would be grandfathered in meaning that all players who have already played in the league do not fall under the rule but every new player that comes into the league from this season on will have to wear a visor. The rule is meant to protect players after multiple players have gone down with eye injuries after a puck or stick has hit them in the eye. It is another step toward trying to make the NHL a safer sport for the players. Another rule that was meant to ensure a safer sport was the rule that only went into effect a day before the regular season. Hybrid Icing was approved after the preseason where the NHL would tryout the new rule and would be approved only a day before the season began. The rule states that if the defenceman is ahead of the offensive player by a wide margin when pursuing an iced puck in the corner that the whistle will be blown without a player touching the puck. If the offensive player is close enough and a race to breakup icing is possible the play will continue until the defensive player touches the puck for icing or the offensive player takes the puck. The rule is meant to prevent unnecessary races and injuries in the corner but in reality it leaves the one part of icing that injures the majority of players. The race to the puck for icing is thrilling and a fun part to the game but it also forces players to take risks that can lead to bad consequences including blown knees and concussions. For the NHL it is a step in protecting the players but it will not do much beside possibly speeding up the game when someone ices the puck. There will also be a new rule that the NHL is hoping will increase the offensive output for players making the game more exciting for the fans. The NHL has reduced the size of the goalie pads once again this year in another attempt to increase the offence, a crusade the NHL has been on since the 2005 lockout. It is working so far as the first 5 days of NHL action have seen over 120 goals with only two shutouts so far this year. This could be a direct result of the goalie pads or the fact that defence will always take a longer time to gel than the offence. The full season will be the true test as the goalies and the defence continue to catch up and get used to the new rules. If the output continues the pads have had their effect but if the defence and goaltenders adjust the latest attempt at increasing offence will be all for not. There was another rule that the NHL would approve before the season that seems to be on its way out already. Before the season the NHL would send a memo to all players stating that jerseys must be untucked from the hockey pants in what they climbed was another safety concern. Many saw it as a precursor to the NHL putting ads on the jerseys by approving a rule that would provide open ad space for potential sponsors. The rule has come under fire, particularly by Alexander Ovechkin, as many claim that it is the NL overstepping their boundaries by telling players how to dress. The rule is already on its way out as it has not been called so far this year and the NHL has softened their stance on the enforcement of the rule. The new rules in the NHL will have their effects but it will take a much larger sample than five days of play. They will all be worth watching as these rules could have a major impact or fizzle out with a new season underway.

 

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

The Fire is back
Patrick Roy made headlines in his first game as an NHL head coach after almost destroying the partition between the benches when arguing with players from the Anaheim Ducks and head coach Bruce Boudreau in an outburst that many were expecting, although maybe later in the season

Debate begins Again
The first game of the season would see Colton Orr and George Parros get into two fights in an emotional rivalry game between Toronto and Montreal but on the second fight Parros would trip and fall face first into the ice being knocked out and launching the NHL into another debate over fighting in hockey

Start to a Comeback
Ilya Bryzgalov could not find a team to play with in the NHL after being bought out by the Philadelphia Flyers but he would find a home in the ECHL signing with the Las Vegas Wranglers in what he hopes will be a comeback

 

NHL Standings

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division:
1. Toronto Maple Leafs (6)
2. Boston Bruins (4)
3. Detroit Red Wings (4)
4. Ottawa Senators (3)
5. Montreal Canadiens (2)
6. Florida Panthers (2)
7. Tampa Bay Lightning (2)
8. Buffalo Sabres (0)
Metropolitan Division:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (4)
2. New York Islanders (3)
3. Columbus Blue Jackets (2)
4. Washington Capitals (2)
5. Carolina Hurricanes (1)
6. New Jersey Devils (1)
7. New York Rangers (0)
8. Philadelphia Flyers (0)

 

Western Conference
Central Division:
1. St. Louis Blues (4)
2. Colorado Avalanche (4)
3. Winnipeg Jets (4)
4. Chicago Blackhawks (3)
5. Dallas Stars (2)
6. Minnesota Wild (2)
7. Nashville Predators (0)
Pacific Division:
1. San Jose Sharks (4)
2. Calgary Flames (3)
3. Vancouver Canucks (2)
4. Phoenix Coyotes (2)
5. Anaheim Ducks (2)
6. Los Angeles Kings (2)
7. Edmonton Oilers (0)

 

Key Scores:
Toronto Maple Leafs 4 – 3 Montreal Canadiens
– The Leafs and Canadiens would open the season on October 1st with a great rivalry game that would see the Leafs start of the season in the best way winning their first game but the story at the end was the injury to George Parros that ignited the fighting debate once again

Colorado Avalanche 6 – 1 Anaheim Ducks
– The Avs would take the first win of their season in convincing fashion but the actions of new head coach Patrick Roy would take the headlines after yelling at the Anaheim bench and almost destroying the partition between the benches after top pick Nathan MacKinnon was hit knee on knee late in the game

San Jose Sharks 4 – 1 Vancouver Canucks
– John Tortorella would not have the best introduction to his new team in Vancouver taking a loss to the Sharks and losing his first game as the head coach after Roberto Luongo allowed four goals in the last two periods and the Canucks offence scored one goal in the first

Phoenix Coyotes 4 – 1 New York Rangers
– Alain Vigneault would have the same success has his replacement in Vancouver with his first game in New York losing the Coyotes after a struggling offence could not support the team that allowed 4 goals

 

Next Week:
New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles Kings (Monday October 7th; 10:30 pm ET)
– The Rangers try to get back on track against the Kings as Alain Vigneault looks to get a win with the Rangers and takes on the Kings who are looking to get a big win over their newest division opponents

Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues (Wednesday October 9th; 8:00 pm ET)
– The Blackhawks are back and are rolling this year and they take on the one rival who has stayed with their division as the Blues look to start off the year with a big win against what many people consider the best team in the NHL

Winnipeg Jets vs. Minnesota Wild (Thursday October 10th; 8:00 pm ET)
– The newest division rivalry is ready to go as the Wild and Jets have already gotten a taste of each other in the preseason are looking to do it in the regular season as these two teams separated by a border begin what promises to be a good rivalry

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Detroit Red Wings (Saturday October 12th; 7:00 pm ET)
– These matchups will be more common this year as the Red Wings begin to see what playing in the Eastern Conference is like welcoming the Flyers to Detroit and looking to continue their great start to the season

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