NHL Week in Review (January 12-18)

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Another week would take the NHL another step closer to the last part of their season with the trade deadline and the playoff race right around the corner. Of course the Olympics are also right around the corner which has made everything a little more condensed. The two weeks taken off for the Olympic tournament has forced the NHL to hurry everything up. The last part of the season doesn’t truly start until March with the Trade Deadline and the beginning of the playoff race but without two weeks of the season in February removed from the schedule more than ever January is becoming important as the trade game is beginning now while the playoff race is not too far away. As the season moves on at a rapid pace there was some time to take a step back and reflect on the importance of the sport. Specifically for one country as Hockey Day in Canada would celebrate its 14th year in Lloydminster, Alberta. Hockey Day in Canada was a creation of CBC and Hockey Night in Canada to celebrate the Canadian sport. Hockey Day in Canada is a celebration of the thing that makes all Canadians unite and the one sport Canadians call their own. The pride was on full display as CBC would feature Canadians team throughout the day while profiling stories about the people who make the sport special. Above all though the day is a way for the countries national broadcasting company to highlight hockey and remind Canadians that it is their national sport. It is a way to ensure that Canadians continue to feel that connection to the game that many grew up watching in the face of so many obstacles. Registration in amateur sports, including hockey, is dropping around the world as the costs get higher and more and more people cannot afford it. The costs along with many different factors including injuries, which may be the most important factors in the decline in registration. The day to celebrate the sport was used to show what hockey means to the country, and it does truly mean a lot. For Canadians it is an essential part to their image as the sport has many of the aspects that Canadians see in themselves. Ultimately that is what Hockey Day in Canada is, it is an expression of Canada and a day to celebrate being Canadian. As CBC hosted their 14th year in Hockey Day in Canada, NBC and USA Hockey prepare for their 3rd annual Hockey Weekend across America. Both of these celebrations are meant to bring hockey to the forefront they are both still very different. The American version, which will take place from February 18-20, is not a celebration of a classic American sport. Instead it is a way for USA Hockey to expose those in the USA to a sport that many have yet to pick up. The weekend starts with the “Wear Your Jersey Day” that encourages people to wear their favorite hockey jersey. It is a chance for hockey fans in the USA to show their colours and hopefully expose others to the tradition of US Hockey. The second day in the weekend is “Try hockey Day” and could be one of the most important days of the entire weekend. This is a day where many rinks around the USA allow for free ice time and free equipment to let those people who have never played before and do not have any equipment try hockey for the first time. This is a chance for USA Hockey to expose those who have never played hockey to the game and is a chance for them to grow the sport by getting more people involved. The final day is “Celebrate a Local Hockey Hero” day along with “Hockey Day in America” where the NHL highlights Americans making a difference in rinks across America while highlighting NHL teams and the game as it stands in America. It is a weekend meant to expose more people to a game that continues to grow in the USA and a game that they hope continues to grow. Hockey Day in Canada and Hockey Weekend Across America are both very different in what they are hoping to do but it all comes down to one goal from the NHL. They are both looking to expose more people than ever to the sport to try to continue the growth and become a bigger sport than it already is in North America.

 

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

Finding the Next Oil Netminder?
The Edmonton Oilers were active in the trade market when they traded Devan Dubnyk to Nashville for Matt Hendricks and then traded a third round pick to Los Angeles in exchange for Ben Scrivens in what the Oilers hope is a solution to their longtime goalie woes

Kadri on the Block
With the Toronto Maple Leafs continuing to struggle to get back to their winning ways of the start of the season the rumours are starting as to what they will do before the trade deadline with Nazem Kadri reportedly hitting the trade block this week

Enough Losing
Last year the Jets were on the edge of the playoffs and looked promising this year but the season would not be what they expected and for that Claude Noel would be fired while being immediately replaced by Paul Maurice

 

NHL Standings

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division:
1. Boston Bruins (62)
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (61)
3. Montreal Canadiens (59)
4. Toronto Maple Leafs (55)
5. Detroit Red Wings (52)
6. Ottawa Senators (51)
7. Florida Panthers (43)
8. Buffalo Sabres (33)
Metropolitan Division:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (70)
2. Philadelphia Flyers (55)
3. New York Rangers (55)
4. Columbus Blue Jackets (52)
5. Washington Capitals (52)
6. New Jersey Devils (51)
7. Carolina Hurricanes (49)
8. New York Islanders (45)

Western Conference
Central Division:
1. Chicago Blackhawks (73)
2. St. Louis Blues (69)
3. Colorado Avalanche (67)
4. Minnesota Wild (59)
5. Dallas Stars (50)
6. Nashville Predators (49)
7. Winnipeg Jets (49)

Pacific Division:
1. Anaheim Ducks (79)
2. San Jose Sharks (68)
3. Los Angeles Kings (64)
4. Vancouver Canucks (59)
5. Phoenix Coyotes (55)
6. Calgary Flames (39)
7. Edmonton Oilers (36)

 

Key Scores:
Toronto Maple Leafs 3 – 2 New Jersey Devils
– The Leafs started the season well but would begin to struggle at the halfway point as they would start the new year with a big Winter Classic win followed by four straight losses until they beat the Devils that hoped to be the start of a comeback

Winnipeg Jets 5 – 1 Phoenix Coyotes
– Another struggling Canadian team would shake things up this week when the Jets fired Claude Noel and replaced him with Paul Maurice and the switch seemed to work as the Jets would win the first game with Maurice on the bench as they hope to start to climb back into the playoffs

Pittsburgh Penguins 4 – 3 Washington Capitals
– It is one of the best rivalries in the NHL today as Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin carried their teams against each other once more with the Penguins getting the win but shutting out Sidney Crosby while Ovechkin scored one in the losing effort

San Jose Sharks 5 – 4 Tampa Bay Lightning
– The Sharks may have won this game but that was not the main focus as Martin St. Louis would be the entire team’s offence for Tampa Bay in the losing effort scoring four goals and continuing to make the decision to leave him off of the Canadian roster look like a mistake

 

Next Week:
St. Louis Blues vs. Detroit Red Wings (Monday January 20th; 7:30 pm ET)
– The Blues and Red Wings had a good rivalry brewing until the Wings moved to the East this year but there is still some hate there as these two top teams from the West a year ago face off again as the Wings look to move up the rankings and the Blues look to keep pace at the top

New York Islanders vs. New York Rangers (Tuesday January 21st; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Battle of New York goes again with both teams struggling at times and then making a run as this game sees the Rangers at the top of the rankings and try to stay there while the Islanders sit at the bottom and try to move back to the top

Los Angeles Kings vs. Anaheim Ducks (Thursday January 23rd; 10:00 pm ET)
– The Kings travel down the highway to the face the Ducks in what should be a great game that will be a great precursor to their big matchup on the weekend with actions in this game carrying over to Dodger Stadium on the weekend

Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings (Saturday January 25th; 9:30 pm ET)
– The NHL Stadium Series kicks off as the Ducks and Kings take the Freeway Face-Off to Dodger Stadium in one of the strangest and most exotic locations for an outdoor game in the first of four games in the 2014 Stadium Series

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