NHL Week in Review (January 19-25)

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The NHL would start an annual tradition in 2008 when they held the first ever Winter Classic in Buffalo. Ralph Wilson Stadium would play host to the first ever outdoor game in NHL history in a move to expose the NHL to a bigger crowd. It was a spectacle and it was a success so the NHL continued to hold these games. It has become a tradition that on New Year’s Day the NHL takes hold and puts on their biggest regular season game of the year. The 2012-13 season was supposed to host the biggest Winter Classic ever as the Toronto Maple Leafs would take on the Detroit Red Wings in the Big House at Michigan University. The lockout would bring an end to that though as the game was cancelled before the season was saved and a new CBA deal was reached. The game was not lost though as the NHL would announce that the 2013-14 season would place host to this game. The game would be as advertised this year with the biggest crowd in NHL history watching two Original Six teams face off outside in a call back to the beginnings of the sport. As the NHL announced that the Toronto and Detroit game they would take the outdoor game another step further announcing the NHL Stadium Series. The Stadium Series would be the NHL’s way of trying to capitalize on the popularity of outdoor games by hosting an additional four games in legendary outdoor stadiums. The first would be this week and it would be the most controversial of all of the games. The LA Kings would host the Anaheim Ducks in the most unusual Freeway Face-Off ever held. They would travel to Dodger Stadium to host the game putting a rink outdoors in one of the warmest climates in the league. It would create for a lot of questions for the league in doing a game in the one place that a game makes no sense. The other games would take place in Soldier Field and Yankees Stadium that will host two games, which makes sense. Outdoor stadiums in northern cities make sense because the weather will usually be great to create quality ice. When the game goes to a warm climate the immediate thought is of the ice as many people wonder if the game will go on without a hitch. The game would not be the most thrilling with the Ducks taking a quick lead to the game and never looking back. Although the game was not the best the spectacle was great with Dodger Stadium playing a great host to the game. The ice would hold up and the beach volleyball court nearby would make it that much more Californian. The over 54,000 fans in the stands will be the ultimate judges but the first foray into an outdoor game in California looked to be a success. For some the Stadium Series is a chance to expose the sport on a much wider scale by putting on big games in big arenas and getting attention for the teams involved. On the other side is the thought that the NHL is simply just looking to recoup their losses from the lost season during the lockout. As much as it might be a chance to get back the money from a lost season there is a strong possibility that this becomes a permanent thing for the league. In total there will be six outdoor games this year including the Stadium Series, the Winter Classic, and the Heritage Classic. If all goes well these games will become more permanent. The Winter Classic and the Heritage Classic have already been established with the schedules already determined for upcoming games. The Stadium Series is where the future is unknown as the four added games could turn out to be big for the league and if that is the case they will continue on. Whether it is overkill or just another way to expose the sport the success of the stadium series will determine a big part of the future of the NHL. The first and most controversial is over and with three more to go there will be plenty to watch for in the coming months, which in the end is exactly what the NHL wanted.

 

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

Staying the Course
The San Jose Sharks are choosing to keep the core of their team as they signed Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton to three-year deals this week and keep the veterans of the team in place for likely the end of their careers

The Motivation
Rick Nash took a lot of heat when he was named to Team Canada as he had not had the best season and there were others that should have made it but since being named to the Canadian roster on January 7th Nash has scored 10 goals and is on fire as the Olympics come closer

Tortorella back at it
Last week John Tortorella would have an interesting night in Calgary when the Flames put out their tough guy line to start the game and Tortorella would match them and the ensuing fight would lead the Rangers coach to bring the fight to the hallway earning him a 15-day suspension

 

NHL Standings

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division:
1. Boston Bruins (67)
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (67)
3. Toronto Maple Leafs (60)
4. Montreal Canadiens (59)
5. Detroit Red Wings (56)
6. Ottawa Senators (54)
7. Florida Panthers (47)
8. Buffalo Sabres (35)
Metropolitan Division:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (74)
2. New York Rangers (57)
3. Columbus Blue Jackets (56)
4. Philadelphia Flyers (56)
5. Carolina Hurricanes (55)
6. New Jersey Devils (55)
7. Washington Capitals (54)
8. New York Islanders (50)

Western Conference
Central Division:
1. Chicago Blackhawks (76)
2. St. Louis Blues (75)
3. Colorado Avalanche (69)
4. Minnesota Wild (62)
5. Dallas Stars (56)
6. Nashville Predators (54)
7. Winnipeg Jets (53)
Pacific Division:
1. Anaheim Ducks (83)
2. San Jose Sharks (74)
3. Los Angeles Kings (64)
4. Vancouver Canucks (61)
5. Phoenix Coyotes (57)
6. Calgary Flames (43)
7. Edmonton Oilers (36)

 

Key Scores:
Chicago Blackhawks 3 – 2 Boston Bruins (SO)
– Two of the best teams in the league faced off and the Blackhawks came out on top seemingly getting over their small downfall that put them in second place in their division while the Bruins took the loss and got closer to losing their lead

Winnipeg Jets 3 – 2 Anaheim Ducks
– The Jets continue their turnaround from a terrible start to the season as they would beat the Ducks, one of the top teams in the league, and gain a little more confidence while proving that the move to hire Paul Maurice was a good one

Anaheim Ducks 2 – 1 Los Angeles Kings
– The game before the game would be a tight one and not a good one for the team hosting the first Stadium Series game as the Kings would take the loss and keep slipping from the top of the standings but it would give them motivation for their next game at Dodger Stadium

Anaheim Ducks 3 – 0 Los Angeles Kings
– The NHL would travel to Dodger Stadium as the Kings would host their rivals the Anaheim Ducks but the result would not be great for the hosts as the Ducks came out early and stayed ahead thanks to Jonas Hiller who made 36 saves for the shutout

 

Next Week:
New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils (Sunday January 26th; 12:30 pm ET)
– It may not be the old Yankee Stadium but there is still something about playing in the place that the New York Yankees play in and that is what the Rangers and Devils will do as the Hudson River Rivalry moves outside

New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders (Wednesday January 29th; 7:30 pm ET)
– The Battle of New York is a great rivalry in every sport for the city and what better way to express this than putting both hockey teams in Yankee Stadium for the second outdoor game in the Bronx and the third Stadium Series game

Minnesota Wild vs. Colorado Avalanche (Thursday January 30th; 9:00 pm ET)
– The Avs have continued to hold on to their top three position throughout the season but the Wild have been there waiting for their chance to pounce and they will get their chance while the Avs try to keep a hold of their top spot

Ottawa Senators vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (Saturday February 1st; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Battle of Ontario has been great over the last few years as both teams have been better and now the rivalry become s a chance to move up the rankings and stay in contention for the playoffs before they get too far behind

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