NHL Week in Review (October 13-19)

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The NHL has dealt with the concussion issue for the better part of the last few years with head injuries taking the focus for a number of seasons. With the concern over head injuries the NHL has made some major changes in the league. They have tried to adjust the league from a hard-hitting grinding league to an offensive skill league. This of course has other motivations with TV money and entertainment a major factor in the decision to change rules to open up the offence. The rule changes have not completely removed hitting from hockey but it has reduced it and with the battle against fighting the war against head injuries continues on. Despite the rule changes that have helped the injuries there is a reality in the NHL that will always be there as long as hitting is in the game. With a physical game like hockey there is no way that someone will not end up with a head injury unless hitting is taken out. If hitting is taken out of the game the entire game suffers as the physicality and skill is what attracts people to the sport. This makes hitting an essential part to the game and something that cannot be removed. So the NHL is left with a dilemma as they try to reduce head injuries while keeping the integrity of the game intact. The rule changes can only do so much but as it was seen this week the rules will not end the head injuries in the league. Two major incidents this week would strike fear into fans and players alike but both were less about a dirty play and more about a situations. The first would be a hit that still raises a lot of controversy as the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings saw another addition to their rivalry. In the first period of the game between the Avs and the Wings Niklas Kronwall would look to beat out Cody McLeod to the puck that had been sent into Detroit’s end. The race was won by Kornwall who got to the puck in the corner first and the pursuing McLeod would go in for the check. McLeod would finish his check but would hit Kronwall from behind into the boards. Kronwall would suffer a concussion and lacerations on the ear from the hit but it was a situation that has seen over and over again in the NHL. As Kronwall got the puck he would look to make a quick turn moving the opposite way of where McLeod though he was. This last second turn gave McLeod a split second to decide what to do and he would decide to finish his check rather than avoid the check and possibly cause himself injury. It has happened time and time again as players turn their backs to the oncoming opponent and get hit head first into the boards. Some of these plays can be avoided as there is enough time to avoid the hit while others leave no time to change the route and resulting in a bad hit. Whether McLeod had enough time to not finish the check is the debate right now ad is really a matter of opinion. Either way McLeod did hit Kronwall from behind and injured an opposing player which would earn him an in person hearing on Monday that could result in a suspension of more than 5 games. The second event this week would be a purely freak accident that was caused by nobody and yet still resulted in a serious injury. Winnipeg Jets’ rookie defenceman Jacob Trouba would suffer a scary injury in his game against the St. Louis Blues this week. While chasing the puck to the corner Trouba would look to score a big hit against Jordan Leopold and when Leopold made a move to the other direction Trouba would be tripped up and fall face first into the boards. He would be carted off of the field after being hit and would be diagnosed with a neck sprain, and likely a concussion although no official word on a head injury was released. The play was a freak one where Trouba just happened to trip up while attempting a hit and falling into the boards. It was another scary incident in the NHL this week and there will likely be many more as the season moves on. As much as the NHL wants to make the game safe and as good as it is that the NHL is taking steps towards that there is no way that these type of plays ever leave the game. They are situations that happen in a game that is as fast and physical as hockey.

 

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

One Record Down
Every young star that comes up seems to be the guy that might be able to challenge Wayne Gretzky as the greatest player of all time and Taylor Hall would take a small step towards that title as he would score two goals 7 seconds apart breaking a Gretzky record for the first time

Undefeateds fall
This week was not a great one for the undefeated teams in the NHL as the St. Louis Blues San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche would all lose this week taking all of their perfect records and leaving no undefeated teams in the NHL

The rookie Question
With the 9th game of the season approaching the teams in the NHL have major decisions to make as they must decide if their rookies will stay with the team and count against the cap or will go back to the Juniors or AHL

 

NHL Standings

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division:
1. Detroit Red Wings (12)
2. Toronto Maple Leafs (12)
3. Boston Bruins (10)
4. Montreal Canadiens (10)
5. Tampa Bay Lightning (10)
6. Ottawa Senators (8)
7. Florida Panthers (6)
8. Buffalo Sabres (3)
Metropolitan Division:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (14)
2. Carolina Hurricanes (11)
3. New York Islanders (8)
4. Washington Capitals (6)
5. New Jersey Devils (5)
6. New York Rangers (4)
7. Columbus Blue Jackets (4)
8. Philadelphia Flyers (2)

Western Conference
Central Division:
1. Colorado Avalanche (14)
2. Chicago Blackhawks (12)
3. St. Louis Blues (11)
4. Nashville Predators (9)
5. Minnesota Wild (9)
6. Winnipeg Jets (8)
7. Dallas Stars (6)
Pacific Division:
1. San Jose Sharks (15)
2. Anaheim Ducks (12)
3. Phoenix Coyotes (12)
4. Los Angeles Kings (12)
5. Vancouver Canucks (11)
6. Calgary Flames (8)
7. Edmonton Oilers (5)

 

Key Scores:
Anaheim Ducks 4 – 1 Ottawa Senators
– The Ducks would enjoy this night as would almost every NHL fan as the Ducks would don their Anaheim Mighty Ducks uniforms on Throwback night bringing back the Purple and Green for a night and taking the win against the Sens

Pittsburgh Penguins 4 – 1 Philadelphia Flyers
– The Battle of Pennsylvania is not as good as it was last season with the Flyers taking the loss in what is their worst start to the season ever while the Pens took the win and another 2 points as their fast start continues

Dallas Stars 4 – 3 San Jose Sharks (SO)
– The Sharks would take their first loss of the season against the Stars although they would still keep a point streak alive by earning 1 point by taking the game to a shootout as they are still considered the best team in the NHL

Detroit Red Wings 4 – 2 Colorado Avalanche
– The Avalanche have been a team that many have not taken seriously this year despite a 6-0 start and many of the doubters would be proven right when the Avs lost their first game this year to the much more experienced Red Wings

 

Next Week:
San Jose Sharks vs. Detroit Red Wings (Monday October 21st; 7:30 pm ET)
– The sharks are considered the best team in the NHL right now as they have earned a point in every game so far and they are trying to keep the streak going against the Red Wings who start the first two weeks slow but have started to show their true colours last week

Washington Capitals vs. Winnipeg Jets (Tuesday October 22nd; 8:00 pm ET)
– The Caps and Jets established a bit of a rivalry while the Jets sat in the Eastern Conference with both teams fighting for the southeastern division last year and now they get back at it in what is now a rare matchup

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (Thursday October 24th; 7:30 pm ET)
– The Blackhawks and the Lightning are two teams with plenty of offensive firepower making this game one that both goaltenders are not looking forward to as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane take on Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (Saturday October 26th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Penguins have silently become one of the best teams in the NHL as nobody is paying attention to their great start while the Leafs are surprising everyone with how good they are looking so far and this will be the true test of just how good the Leafs are

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