NHL Week in Review (October 27-November 2)

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The NHL week seemed to be business as usual for all teams until one player on one of the best surprises of the season would change the week. The Colorado Avalanche have had a great season so far as they are among the top teams in the league. The season was never supposed to go like this for the team as most expected them to falter with a number of young inexperienced players. Not to mention that a new coach with no NHL experience in Patrick Roy taking over for his first year. From the start the team has looked different as Patrick Roy has proven to be a great motivator for a young team. One of his biggest influences that the new coaching staff has had on the team is in net where Patrick Roy’s handpicked choice for goalie coach, Francois Allaire, has completely changed the fortunes of the team. The pair of Semyon Varlamov and JS Giguere has been the main reason to why the Avalanche have come out to such a great start to the season. Both goaltenders have had a great season especially the #1 goalie Semyon Varlamov who has been one of the best goalies in the league so far this year. He has been exactly what the Avalanche expected when they traded for him and for the Avs it means a great potential future for the team. That was until this week when Varlamov was charged with Felony Kidnapping and Assault. The charges would stem from accusations from Varlamov’s girlfriend about multiple beatings she suffered at the hands of the young Russian goaltender. Varlamov would turn himself in on Wednesday and spend a night in jail before being released on $5,000 bail. The charges are very serious and could result in 2-6 years in prison and could put his career in the NHL in serious jeopardy. The story has been seen before as players have gotten in trouble with the law and have seen their careers fade away. Rarely has it ever been a player like Varlamov and charges as serious as these domestic violence charges. Varlamov looked like he was on his way to the season of his career and these charges should end his time in the crease for the Avalanche at least until a verdict is reached in the trial. This is what makes the decision to start Varlamov on Friday a strange one for the coaching staff of the Avalanche. It is fair to reserve judgment on the young goaltender until he is convicted or pardoned of the crimes he has been charged with. It is not very fair to immediately assume that you know what happened when charges are brought as nobody truly knows what happened besides those people involved. If Varlamov is convicted he could spend up to 6 years in prison, however unlikely that is, and would become a story of caution for young players coming into the league. His career will likely be non-existent, although some teams would sign him out of jail, in the NHL as he will likely return to Russia to play hockey and be seen as someone with a lot of potential that threw it all away. If he is pardoned of any crimes his reputation will likely take a hit but his NHL career will not as the Avs will keep him and continue to roll with him whether people like him or not after the trial. Either way the story is out there and the questions will be around until the verdict comes and with it hanging over the head of the goalie and the team there is a responsibility for them to be sensitive to the situation. Starting Varlamov in the first game back was not the best idea as it made the team look extremely insensitive to what is happening. The argument to act like nothing happened until the verdict should not fly as it makes them look like what most people think a corporate team is, just about winning no matter what. Granted Varlamov would likely have to start at some point but giving him some time off and putting JS Giguere into the game would have been the best decision. As the Avalanche look to the second month of the season and try to see if they can continue their strong start to put them into the playoff conversation early in the season they have some major decisions to make. They will try to figure out what they should do with Varlamov as the verdict from the trial will likely give them their answer as another player gets in trouble off of the ice leading many to debate what needs to happen with Semyon Varlamov.

 

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

Why Wait for the Deadline
The Trade Deadline is nowhere near but that didn’t stop the Islanders from trading Matt Moulson to Buffalo in exchange for Thomas Vanek or the Flyers from trading Maxime Talbot to Colorado for Steve Downie in two early deals that are setting a tone for moves in the NHL

The Canes Crease
The Carlina Hurricanes were once again hit by the injury bug in what is becoming a theme as Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin have gone down with injuries leading the ‘Canes to sign Rick DiPietro to an AHL tryout contract and relying on Justin Peters for the time being in the NHL

Brothers back in Vancouver
The Vancouver Canucks would get some business done off of the ice this week as they would keep  their brotherly connection together likely for the rest of their careers as Henrik and Daniel Sedin signed 4-year contract extensions likely making them Canucks for life

 

NHL Standings

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division:
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (20)
2. Toronto Maple Leafs (20)
3. Detroit Red Wings (20)
4. Boston Bruins (16)
5. Montreal Canadiens (16)
6. Ottawa Senators (11)
7. Florida Panthers (9)
8. Buffalo Sabres (5)
Metropolitan Division:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (22)
2. New York Islanders (15)
3. Washington Capitals (14)
4. New York Rangers (12)
5. Carolina Hurricanes (11)
6. Columbus Blue Jackets (10)
7. New Jersey Devils (10)
8. Philadelphia Flyers (8)

Western Conference
Central Division:
1. Colorado Avalanche (24)
2. Chicago Blackhawks (21)
3. St. Louis Blues (18)
4. Minnesota Wild (17)
5. Nashville Predators (16)
6. Dallas Stars (12)
7. Winnipeg Jets (12)
Pacific Division:
1. San Jose Sharks (23)
2. Anaheim Ducks (23)
3. Phoenix Coyotes (22)
4. Vancouver Canucks (21)
5. Los Angeles Kings (18)
6. Calgary Flames (12)
7. Edmonton Oilers (8)

 

Key Scores:
San Jose Sharks 5 – 2 Ottawa Senators
– The Sharks remain the team that many consider the best team in the league and they would continue to prove it beating the Sens 5-2 with plenty of players getting involved in the offence of the Sharks

Dallas Stars 4 – 3 Buffalo Sabres
– Lindy Ruff spent most of his career in Buffalo and when he was fired last year an era had ended but he would make his return for the first time with his new team and would show the organization that they made a mistake beating the Sabres

New York Rangers 3 – 2 New York Islanders
– The Battle of New York once again got underway with the roles reversed this year as the Rangers were at the bottom of the division and the Islanders above them although the Rangers would still show that they are the big team beating the Isles

Pittsburgh Penguins 3 – 2 Boston Bruins
– Two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference over the last few years the Bruins and Pens would face off looking to make headway in their new division with the Penguins coming out on top and continuing their great season

 

Next Week:
Nashville Predators vs. Colorado Avalanche (Wednesday November 6th; 9:30 pm ET)
– many considered Seth Jones a lock for the Colorado Avalanche in the draft this year but instead he fell to the Nashville Predators as he travels into the arena that he might have been playing in and takes on the player who was taken before him in Nathan MacKinnon

Florida Panthers vs. Boston Bruins (Thursday November 7th; 7:00 pm ET)
– It was a strange divorce for Tim Thomas and the Bruins and in his season back after taking a year off he will travel to the place where he won two Stanley Cups and will take on his former team in the Boston Bruins

New York Rangers vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (Thursday November 7th; 7:00 pm ET)
– In a day of returns Rick Nash will travel back to Columbus, where he was the only player on the team for a number of years, for the first time since signing with the New York Rangers as the jackets are hoping to show that they don’t need him

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins (Saturday November 9th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The last time these two teams faced off the Leafs would blow a 4-1 lead in Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs last year in one of the worst moments in Leafs history and now they look to get some revenge and exorcise the demons by beating the Bruins this time around

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