NHL Week in Review (November 3-9)

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The Sochi Olympics are fast approaching and the tryouts are ramping up for every player in the NHL. The Olympics will begin in February 2014 and for the international hockey organizations the beginning of the 2013-14 season was a chance to see potential players in games. The Olympics are one of the biggest competitions in the international hockey calendar as it is the one time when the best from every country can face off. The NHL will take two weeks off while the best players in the NHL travel to Russia to play for gold. There is no other tournament in the world that allows the best players in the NHL to play against each other. The only other major IIHF tournament is the World Championship that is in the middle of the NHL playoffs. The timing of the World Championships makes it difficult for the best players to travel as they have either just finished a long season or are fighting for the Stanley Cup. It makes the World Championships a bit of a letdown as it doesn’t truly show the best country in the world. Then every four years these international teams get to bring the best players they have to the world stage and try to prove that they are the best. The Canadians are the defending Olympic Champions after winning in Vancouver ending the 2010 Olympics. The win was a big one for the Canadians as it was at home and was a marked improvement on their 7th place finish in the 2006 Olympics. For a nation that considers themselves the preeminent hockey nation it was a validation of their spot among the top of the teams. This year there is another team looking to do the same as the Russians finished 6th in the 2010 Olympics and are now hoping that they can win the Gold on home soil. Meanwhile the Americans are looking to continue their rise in the hockey world after finishing with a Silver medal in 2010 losing to their main rivals the Canadians. These three teams will all be the main teams to watch in 2014 and all are keeping a very close eye on the NHL season to see who they can depend on to win a gold medal. There are plenty of other countries out there looking at the NHL but many do not have a lot of choices that play in the NHL. For those countries anyone playing in the NHL will likely make their team although watching will help determine where they can use these players. For the USA, Canada, and Russia the decisions are a little more difficult as there are plenty of options playing in the NHL. The Russians will likely have a fewer options and will choose a number of players from the KHL while players like Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin are sure bets to travel to Sochi in February. The Americans will have a lot of NHL players to choose from with more than enough players to choose from. They have already begun their scouting as Head Coach Dan Bylsma and General Manager David Poile have been scouting the potential players throughout the year. They have been sure to take a look at the potential players when they can watching the teams they play against and sometimes travelling a day in advance of their teams to watch potential players. The Canadians are also doing this with head coach Mike Babcock and Steve Yzerman taking the same approach. The American and Canadian staffs are looking for their teams and the beginning of the NHL season has been a tryout for every player from Canada and the USA. Leading up to February these players will fight to earn a spot on their national team rosters with the tryout continuing through the season. It is a rare season for these players and one that will likely become even more rare with the Sochi Olympics possibly being the last that the NHL participates in. A long negotiation with the IOC and the IIHF would leave a sour taste in the mouth of all parties. Add that to the fact that the NHL is looking to revive the World Cup and expand their presence in Europe with more international series and the Olympics have come into question. This year may be the last for any NHL player to be in the Olympics and for the players that means they will do everything they can to be a part of the last chance to be in the Olympics.

 

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

Bryzgalov is back
Ilya Bryzgalov was not the solution that the Flyers had hoped for in net and they would send him packing in the offseason buying out his contract but he will get another chance to be the saviour after the Edmonton Oilers signed him this week to try to solve their goalie issues

Another Coach falls
Kevin Dineen would become the second coach to be fired this year joining Peter Laviolette on the unemployment line after the Florida Panthers began the season at the bottom of the league and are looking at a change to turn the franchise around

No Suspension for Emery
When Ray Emery went to find Braden Holtby at the other end of the ice in a line brawl between the Flyers and Capitals many were calling for a suspension but the rules were in Emery’s favour as a fight is not grounds for suspension although it wouldn’t quite the opposition

 

NHL Standings

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division:
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (24)
2. Toronto Maple Leafs (22)
3. Detroit Red Wings (22)
4. Boston Bruins (21)
5. Ottawa Senators (18)
6. Montreal Canadiens (17)
7. Florida Panthers (10)
8. Buffalo Sabres (7)
Metropolitan Division:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (22)
2. Washington Capitals (19)
3. New York Rangers (16)
4. Carolina Hurricanes (16)
5. New York Islanders (15)
6. New Jersey Devils (13)
7. Columbus Blue Jackets (12)
8. Philadelphia Flyers (11)

Western Conference
Central Division:
1. Colorado Avalanche (26)
2. Chicago Blackhawks (26)
3. St. Louis Blues (24)
4. Minnesota Wild (24)
5. Nashville Predators (18)
6. Dallas Stars (18)
7. Winnipeg Jets (16)
Pacific Division:
1. Anaheim Ducks (29)
2. Phoenix Coyotes (26)
3. San Jose Sharks (24)
4. Vancouver Canucks (24)
5. Los Angeles Kings (22)
6. Calgary Flames (14)
7. Edmonton Oilers (10)

 

Key Scores:
Washington Capitals 6 – 2 New York Islanders
– The Islanders began the season with a great start as they rose up the Metropolitan standings but they have recently fallen that included a loss to the Capitals while the Caps continue to rise up the rankings

Nashville Predators 6 – 4 Colorado Avalanche
– The Colorado Avalanche have been one of the best teams in the league so far and after the majority of rankings put them at #1 they would be handed their second loss on the season by the Predators

Toronto Maple Leafs 2 – 1 New Jersey Devils (SO)
– The Hall of Fame game would not have a lot of offensive power but the excitement was there as they would honour the newest members of the Hall with an extremely close game that would end with a Leafs shootout win

Boston Bruins 3 – 1 Toronto Maple Leafs
– The last time these two teams saw each other the Leafs would watch the Bruins celebrate a 4 goal comeback in the Stanley Cup playoffs and they would get a chance to erase that memory but would not get their revenge with the Bruins coming out on top

 

Next Week:
New York Islanders vs. Montreal Canadiens (Sunday November 10th; 6:00 pm ET)
– The Islanders are on a freefall down the standings and they are hoping to stop it as they try to get a win against the Canadiens who are trying to keep up among the top teams in the Atlantic Division

New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers (Tuesday November 12th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Battle of the Hudson River continues this year and this time the rangers are actually sitting where they expected to be near the top of the Metropolitan Division while the Devils sit near the bottom of the division

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (Wednesday November 13th; 8:00 pm ET)
– The Battle of Pennsylvania will be one of many rivalries taking place this week as the Penguins look to continue to beat up on their in-state rivals who have yet to find their stride in the season

Edmonton Oilers vs. Calgary Flames (Saturday November 16th; 10:00 pm ET)
– The Battle of Alberta pits the two worst teams in the Pacific Division against each other as the Oilers look to their newest edition to begin putting them into the playoff conversation and out of the bottom of the division

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