NHL Week in Review (December 29-January 4)

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This week in the NHL was a big one for the league as they would hold what has become their biggest event on the regular season schedule. The NHL Winter Classic has become one of the biggest games on the regular season schedule for the NHL and this year it was bigger than ever. The NHL would go to the largest stadium in North America at the Big House in Ann Arbour, Michigan. With a capacity of over 100,000 the potential to break records was there and the NHL could not have chosen better teams to ensure that these records were broken. The Detroit Red Wings would host the Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan University in a matchup of two of the most legendary teams and two teams with the largest followings. The strategy would work as 105491 people would attend the game break the attendance record for a hockey game. Not only did they break the record for attendance but they would also break the record for viewership with 8.2 million people watching the game making it the most watched game in NHL history. This year the NHL took another step forward in this event as they seemed to do everything right. They selected two teams with big followings and a lot of history to play in the game and that would change everything. It would make the festival in Detroit better when they had to put on two Alumni games to fit the legends of the two teams into the games. They would also select the teams that had fans that would come from anywhere to see this event. Although it would happen a year later than it was supposed to it was a still a great event for the league. Then the game would be a tight one and would go into a shootout and it made everything even better. It was another step for the NHL as they would reach another level of success in the Winter Classic and are hoping that it continues to be big. It has become a signature event for the NHL as it marks an unofficial halfway mark to the season. For the NHL it is a chance to enter the main stage of the sports world at halfway through their season. It is a way to bring people to the sport on a big sports day and a way to keep fans interested after three months of the season as it gives something to look forward to just as the season is reaching that time when some fans begin to lose interest before the playoff race. The NHL is happy with the success of the Winter Classic and because of that has scheduled another 5 outdoor games this year. They will continue the tradition of the Heritage Classic when they go to B.C. Place in March with the Vancouver Canucks and the Ottawa Senators. The Heritage Classic game is a part of the Winter Classic plan and has been played twice since 2003. The new games will be a part of the NHL Stadium Series and will look to highlight classic American stadiums with Yankees Stadium, Dodger Stadium, and Soldier Field taking a focus throughout the next few months. It is a strategy that may continue, although it likely shouldn’t, as the NHL looks to continue to grow the sport in the USA with special events like the Stadium Series. The new games this year will be interesting to watch as the NHL’s strategy could be very successful but also could flop. One thing is for sure though, the NHL Winter Classic is here to stay as it continues to get more popular and continues to be a big event for the league. Next year the Washington Capitals will host the Winter Classic as the NHL continues the tradition but will need to select a great opponent to make it match this year’s game, maybe another matchup with the Penguins. Despite the success of failure of the Stadium Series this year the Winter Classic remains and the NHL continues to grow the game in the USA by putting on spectacular events that capture the attention of everyone.

 

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

The Debate begins
USA Hockey would take the opportunity at the Winter Classic to announce their Olympic Team roster but would have one glaring omission as Bobby Ryan would not make the list leading to a debate and a war of words between Ryan and the management of the US team

No Suspension for Lupul
The winter Classic was a great imperfect game but there was one ugly moment when Joffrey Lupul would crosscheck Patrick Eaves in the head but this week would be fined $10,000 instead of being suspended as the decision continued to confuse anyone trying to figure out NHL discipline

More Debate to Come
The American team has announced their roster already but the Canadians will wait until the last day as they will announce their roster on January 7th and a debate will surely begin about who was left off and who was put on a roster with a lot of options

 

NHL Standings

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division:
1. Boston Bruins (58)
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (54)
3. Montreal Canadiens (53)
4. Detroit Red Wings (48)
5. Toronto Maple Leafs (47)
6. Ottawa Senators (45)
7. Florida Panthers (38)
8. Buffalo Sabres (28)
Metropolitan Division:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (61)
2. Philadelphia Flyers (46)
3. Washington Capitals (46)
4. New York Rangers (44)
5. Carolina Hurricanes (43)
6. New Jersey Devils (42)
7. Columbus Blue Jackets (40)
8. New York Islanders (35)

Western Conference
Central Division:
1. Chicago Blackhawks (66)
2. St. Louis Blues (63)
3. Colorado Avalanche (56)
4. Minnesota Wild (49)
5. Dallas Stars (47)
6. Winnipeg Jets (43)
7. Nashville Predators (42)
Pacific Division:
1. Anaheim Ducks (65)
2. San Jose Sharks (58)
3. Los Angeles Kings (56)
4. Vancouver Canucks (53)
5. Phoenix Coyotes (49)
6. Calgary Flames (34)
7. Edmonton Oilers (31)

 

Key Scores:
Winnipeg Jets 2 – 1 Colorado Avalanche
– A rivalry is brewing in the Central division as the Jets and the Avalanche are beginning to play tight games and beginning to throw accusations out as the Jets would win this game and then see Dustin Byfuglien shove Semyon Varlamov leading the goalie to call him a dirty player

Anaheim Ducks 6 – 3 San Jose Sharks
– The Sharks looked great to start the year but their hold among the top of the division has not been that tight and they would show that against the Ducks allowing six goals and giving the Ducks more separation in the division

Toronto Maple Leafs 3 – 2 Detroit Red Wings (SO)
– The Winter Classic was exactly that, a classic as the weather would ensure an imperfect game leading to plenty of strange plays that would help the goalies play amazing and keep the game tight forcing a shootout that the Leafs would win

Philadelphia Flyers 5 – 3 Phoenix Coyotes
– The Flyers season started terribly but it has rapidly changed as the Flyers now sit at second place in the division after a win against the Coyotes and are looking to make their second half much better than their first

 

Next Week:
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Edmonton Oilers (Sunday January 5th; 8:00 pm ET)
– The Lightning have seemingly figured out how to play without their star player and are looking to continue having success as they take on a struggling Edmonton team that is still looking to put together a good run

Philadelphia Flyers vs. New Jersey Devils (Tuesday January 6th; 7:30 pm ET)
– The Flyers continue their climb from the basement as they hope that the month of January can be their way to get into the payoffs and it continues with their game against the Devils who are going the opposite way

New York Rangers vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Wednesday January 8th; 8:00 pm ET)
– The Rangers are looking to get back into the top three teams in their division but they will not have the best start to do it as they take on the Chicago Blackhawks who are looking to keep their hold on the top of the Central division

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Carolina Hurricanes (Thursday January 9th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Leafs would make a move during the Winter Classic trading John-Michael Liles to the Hurricanes for Tim Gleason and now both players will be on the ice against their former teams as both try to show their former team that they made a mistake in trading them

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