NHL Week in Review (December 15-21)

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Sports in North America are some of the most profitable industries out there with billions of dollars going through these teams. The NFL takes the cake as the largest with multi-billions running through teams and massive contracts given out to players. Every other league is just trying to catch up to the NFL and make that type of money and that includes the NHL. The NHL has taken large steps in trying to become a league as big as the NFL and recently those steps have been some of the most debated steps in the history of the league. These steps are in an attempt to make this sport less violent than it once was. Whether you agree with the changes or disagree with them there is no argument that violence does not sell anymore. For better or for worse the world has moved away from violence in sport and violent sports are feeling the brunt of it. For the NFL this is true as the numbers for youth football have dropped and the league has spent a large amount of money to try to change the way the sport is coached at the younger age. For a league that is established in the USA like the NFL it has not made people abandon the game but for a league still trying to gain a foothold in the USA like the NHL it has become a major challenge. The NHL is being hit hard by the violence debate as they were just beginning to grow and were stopped by the fact that violence was not to be tolerated anymore. For a sport that allows players to fight each other at any moment the violence issue has become a major one and has only increased with the evolution of understanding concussions. The NHL has taken plenty of measures to try to reduce the violence without changing the essence of what many people like about the sport. The biggest measure has been the change in the attitude of the NHL towards illegal hits. It was not very long ago that the league would suspend a few players a year for something extreme. Swinging sticks and sucker punches would be the main cause of most of the suspensions. Now though the league has tightened up on their regulations with dangerous plays becoming a bigger focus for the league. It is not that these plays are coming more often but more that these plays are now under more scrutiny than ever. That is why so far this year the NHL has handed out a total of 29 suspensions without even reaching the halfway point of the season. The league offices are busy as it seems like every night there is another reason that someone will miss time. There has been a large number of suspensions this year and this week there were a number of suspensions handed out with Deryk Engelland taking the worst one earning 5 games for a hit to the head. Just before that Shawn Thornton would be handed the most severe punishment this year earning 15 games for punching an unsuspecting opponent. The NHL is taking a hard stance against the goonish play that has been in the NHL for years and the suspensions will continue to pile up. It will be a while until the NHL can consider themselves much more clean but the fact that there are so many suspensions means that they are working to make it better. The culture change is a tough road for the NHL but the work is being done as the suspensions rise and the bad plays are trying to be eliminated from the game.

 

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

No time for Varly
Semyon Varlamov would be charged with domestic assault charges in what was looking like a very serious case but the charges would be dropped this week after the prosecution found new evidence that led them to believe they would not earn a conviction

Future of Equipment
As the Olympics approach Bauer has been busy preparing new equipment that lead to advances far beyond any recent developments with lighter skates, pads and goalie equipment the Bauer OD1N looks to make its debut in the Olympics with a number of stars

Hot at the Right Time
Alexander Steen has had a season that was never expected as he has led the Blues in scoring and it would come at a perfect time with his contract coming up at the end of the season and the start would pay off with Steen earning a three-year $17.5 million contract extension this week

 

NHL Standings

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division:
1. Boston Bruins (50)
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (47)
3. Montreal Canadiens (47)
4. Detroit Red Wings (43)
5. Toronto Maple Leafs (40)
6. Ottawa Senators (35)
7. Florida Panthers (33)
8. Buffalo Sabres (21)
Metropolitan Division:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (55)
2. Washington Capitals (42)
3. New Jersey Devils (37)
4. Philadelphia Flyers (36)
5. Carolina Hurricanes (36)
6. New York Rangers (34)
7. Columbus Blue Jackets (34)
8. New York Islanders (27)

Western Conference
Central Division:
1. Chicago Blackhawks (56)
2. St. Louis Blues (52)
3. Colorado Avalanche (48)
4. Minnesota Wild (45)
5. Dallas Stars (40)
6. Winnipeg Jets (37)
7. Nashville Predators (36)
Pacific Division:
1. Anaheim Ducks (57)
2. Los Angeles Kings (54)
3. San Jose Sharks (50)
4. Vancouver Canucks (48)
5. Phoenix Coyotes (44)
6. Calgary Flames (32)
7. Edmonton Oilers (25)

 

Key Scores:
Washington Capitals 5 – 4 Philadelphia Flyers (SO)
– The Caps are silently continuing to stay at the top of the Metropolitan division while the Flyers are climbing back into the fight after a tough start to the year but they would not be able to make up on the Caps as Alex Ovechkin and the Caps would take this game in a shootout

San Jose Sharks 4 – 2 St. Louis Blues
– The Sharks would start the season with a big lead in the Pacific division but have fallen off as of late but they would stay in the fight when they beat a top team from the other western division in the St. Louis Blues

Colorado Avalanche 4 – 2 Edmonton Oilers
– The last time these two teams faced off the Oilers would come out on top in a big way scoring 8 goals against the Avs but this time it was different as the Avalanche defence was much better only allowing 2 goals and helping the Avs to another win

New York Islanders 5 – 3 New York Rangers
– The battle of New York is not the same as it used to be as both teams are sitting at the bottom of the standings with the Rangers going back and forth all year but it was the Islanders who would come out on top this time

 

Next Week:
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. New York Rangers (Monday December 22nd; 7:00 pm ET)
– The two most wealthy teams will face off again as both teams are trying to get back to the top of their divisions as they have had bad seasons and are looking to turn things around before the halfway mark of the season

Colorado Avalanche vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Friday December 28th; 8:00 pm ET)
– The Avs have kept their spot among the top of the division and now they will try to remain there and gain some ground on the top team in the division while the Blackhawks look to stay at the top of the division

Minnesota Wild vs. Winnipeg Jets (Friday December 27th; 9:00 pm ET)
– The newest rivalry in the NHL continues as the Wild are looking to get into the top three of the Northwest Division while the jets are just looking to try to find their way out of the basement of the division

Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues (Saturday December 28th; 8:00 pm ET)
– The rivalry continues as the Blues and Blackhawks continue to fight it out ofr the top spot in the division and will go at it once again as the Blues look to make up some gorund to try to get to the top spot

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