NHL Week in Review (November 17-23)

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The NHL season would start with one of the biggest changes in the NHL as the offseason would see a new alignment for the NHL. The realignment would come thanks to the addition of the Winnipeg Jets in 2011. When the Atlanta Thrashers would fold the NHL would award a franchise to Winnipeg but would have little time to adjust anything to help the Jets. So the newly minted Jets would be forced to take the place of the Atlanta Thrashers in the Southeast Division in the Eastern Conference. The Jets belonged in the Western Conference playing alongside other teams in their area. The Jets would play the entire 2011-12 season in the East and with the CBA negotiations after that season they would continue to play in the East for the shortened 2012-13 season. The NHL would handle the issue in the offseason as they would reorganize the divisions and finally move the Jets to the West where they belonged. That was not the only big move of the realignment though, as the NHL would also grant the wishes of two teams that had been sitting in a conference that they were not happy with for years. The Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets had been sitting in the West and were both the most eastern teams in the conference. Travel schedules would be terrible for both teams but the Detroit Red Wings in particular would take it with stride. The Red Wings had been one of the strongest teams in the West and would build a reputation as one of the most dominant teams in the NHL. They had always wanted a move to the East though where they could play teams that are not far away from themselves and reduce their travel schedule. The NHL would finally grant their wish and would move them to the Eastern Conference. The move would leave many to believe that the Red Wings would take their dominance to the Eastern Conference and would be able to easily get through the Atlantic Division. So far that dominance has not been seen though has Detroit has struggled to get a foothold in the Atlantic Division. There is a big reason for this as the travel schedule has helped them but the new style of play has hurt them. There is a clearly divided line in the NHL between the East and the West and that line is made through the style that both conferences play. In the West they play a slower game that concentrates on puck possession and defence. This is what allowed Detroit to be so dominant with such an old team as their veteran players did not need the young speed to operate. They could play a slower game and take advantage of the veteran experience to win games in the West. The Eastern Conference is quite different though as the conference plays a very offensive game that highlights young quick talent. The East is a different beast and the Detroit Red Wings are learning that quickly. Their old defensive slow game does not work when they take on young talented offensive stars that can break through a good defence and outskate them. Detroit’s team is not built to play this type of game and they are showing it as they continue to struggle in their first year in the East. The Red Wings are a great organization and they will figure it out eventually but the first year in the east looks to be one of growing pains. For years they have built their team around the Western style and now they must adjust to the East which likely will not happen overnight. They will now look to turn this season around as their wish was granted in their move to the East but it is quickly becoming a nightmare for a team that is used to winning.

 

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

Varlamov Charged
Semyon Varlamov would return to court this week for his alleged Domestic Violence case and would officially be charged with Misdemeanor Assault that could carry probation or up to two years in prison if he is convicted

Turnaround in Edmonton
The Edmonton Oilers have struggled all year but finally they would break through to score 7 goals in one game this week as the rumours of trades are fading away and hope that the Oilers can climb back grows

The Goal Line Issue
This week more rule changes were debated after a game between Ottawa and Philadelphia would come down to a puck crossing the line but not being seen through replay and changing the game as the league began their talk of how to make reviews more accurate

 

NHL Standings

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division:
1. Boston Bruins (32)
2. Toronto Maple Leafs (29)
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (29)
4. Montreal Canadiens (28)
5. Detroit Red Wings (27)
6. Ottawa Senators (22)
7. Florida Panthers (17)
8. Buffalo Sabres (11)
Metropolitan Division:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (30)
2. Washington Capitals (26)
3. New York Rangers (24)
4. New Jersey Devils (23)
5. Philadelphia Flyers (22)
6. Carolina Hurricanes (21)
7. Columbus Blue Jackets (19)
8. New York Islanders (19)

Western Conference
Central Division:
1. Chicago Blackhawks (36)
2. St. Louis Blues (35)
3. Colorado Avalanche (34)
4. Minnesota Wild (34)
5. Dallas Stars (24)
6. Nashville Predators (24)
7. Winnipeg Jets (24)
Pacific Division:
1. Anaheim Ducks (37)
2. San Jose Sharks (35)
3. Los Angeles Kings (33)
4. Phoenix Coyotes (32)
5. Vancouver Canucks (28)
6. Calgary Flames (20)
7. Edmonton Oilers (16)

 

Key Scores:
Minnesota Wild 2 – 1 Winnipeg Jets
– The move has not helped the Jets this year as they have become one of the worst teams in their division but they will have a rivalry to look forward to with the Wild that seems to be leaning to Minnesota’s side this year

Colorado Avalanche 5 – 1 Chicago Blackhawks
– The Avalanche are still trying to prove they are for real and they would take a big step towards that as they would easily get past the top team in the Central Division putting up five goals and earning another big win

Pittsburgh Penguins 4 – 0 Washington Capitals
– The new age rivalry between Washington and Pittsburgh has become one of the best thanks to Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin but in this game only Crosby would get on the board helping his team to a big division win

Philadelphia Flyers 5 – 2 New York Islanders
– The Flyers are continuing their climb up from the basement of the standings after a terrible start to the season while the Islanders continue to fall to the bottom of the league after an impressive start with the loss to the Flyers another missed opportunity

 

Next Week:
Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues (Monday November 25th; 8:00 pm ET)
– The Wild are looking to get ahead in a crowded division that includes the St. Louis Blues who are once again having a very good season and sit in second place in the Central while the Wild are hoping for a win to reduce the lead

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (Wednesday November 27th; 7:30 pm ET)
– The Philadelphia Flyers made a big splash this offseason when they signed Vincent Lecavalier and now Lecavalier will done the Orange and Black in the place he spent all of his career as he returns to Tampa Bay for the first time since being bought out this past offseason

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Buffalo Sabres (Friday November 29th; 7:30 pm ET)
– The QEW Rivalry has not been everything that it used to be with the Leafs playing much better and the Sabres playing much worse but with a new regime the Sabres are hoping for a statement game against the Leafs

Vancouver Canucks vs. New York Rangers (Saturday November 30th; 2:00 pm ET)
– The Canucks and Rangers would swap coaches this offseason and they will face off for the first time this year when John Tortorella will return to New York for the first time since being told his shelf life was up and signing with the Canucks

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