NHL Week in Review (February 2-8)

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The NHL would play their last week before the Olympic break as the league goes on hiatus for two weeks. It is a break that is welcome by many of the fans who will be concentrating on the biggest international tournament. Fans will miss their NHL hockey but they will also follow along their NHL stars in the Olympics. The players will also welcome the break as those who will be going to Sochi will get a chance to achieve a dream. They will get to play for their countries and put their flag on their chest for the chance to achieve something that few have been able to, an Olympic Gold Medal. For the players not going to the Olympics it is a chance to take some time off and recover from the season so far while they get ready for the last part of the season. These players will come back refreshed and ready to make a run at the playoffs in the last part of the season. The NHL themselves will appreciate the break as the Olympics provide the league with the international exposure that they are beginning to go after more and more. They will have their superstars on the massive stage of the Olympics providing the stars with an international stage and the NHL with proof that the best players play in their league. One group in the NHL is not too happy about their top players leaving for two weeks and not having games for the same amount of time. That is the owners as they look at the Olympics as lost money and as two weeks where they can’t sell tickets. Above all it means that their best players will be competing for teams that they do not own and will be at risk of injuring themselves for that team. If one of these players is injured that could mean trouble for their NHL team if they cannot return for the playoff run. It is a dangerous proposition for NHL owners and one that the owners really don’t see anything from. That is why the NHL would take a very long time to figure out whether they were going to attend the Olympics. In the end the demand from Russian players to play at home and other players to want their time in the Olympics the NHL would come up with a deal to attend the Olympics. The negotiations would go on for a long time and that was not a good sign for the future of the NHL in the Olympics. It will come up once again in 2018 when the Olympics travel to Pyeongchang, South Korea and the negotiations to attend the games will start. It is widely believed that the NHL will not agree to send their players to another Olympics. Instead the NHL is rumoured to begin their own plan for international expansion. The first step will be to hold more games in Europe to start the season like they have done in the past. The next step is to bring back the World Cup of Hockey, formerly known as the Canada Cup, to bring another international championship to the world. This World Cup will feature NHL players and will be planned by the NHL to allow for much better timing within the NHL season. It will be approved by the NHL owners and will provide international play for the fans and the players while not upsetting the owners. This new strategy for the NHL will make these Olympic Games that much more important for everyone. They look to be the last time that the NHL will participate in the games and the last time that the best players in the world get to play against each other in an event as big as the Olympic tournament. The World Championship does not come at a good time as the best players are in the NHL playoffs while the World Cup was not continued because of the lack of popularity. The Olympics are the ultimate tournament in determining the best country and for the next two weeks they will look to do exactly that as the NHL takes a two-week break with the players travelling to Sochi for the Olympic hockey tournament.

 

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

Scary Moment for Letang
Kris Letang made news this week for the worst reasons as he would suffer a stroke this week before the Penguins left for a road trip as he survived and will play again but will be out six weeks to recover from the scary incident

Roster Freeze
The NHL has now entered a roster freeze as no personnel moves can be made during the Olympic Break and although the rumours would swirl throughout the week there were no big deals before the rosters were frozen

Last Chance Replacement
Steven Stamkos had hoped to find himself in Sochi as a member of Team Canada but his recovery from a broken leg would not be fast enough as he was not cleared to play in Sochi and would be replaced with teammate Martin St. Louis on Team Canada

Another Drop Out
The Canadians were not the only Olympic team to see a superstar drop out as Henrik Sedin would be forced to drop out of playing for Sweden in the Olympics as a rib injury will keep him from travelling to Sochi

 

NHL Standings

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division:
1. Boston Bruins (78)
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (71)
3. Montreal Canadiens (70)
4. Toronto Maple Leafs (70)
5. Detroit Red Wings (64)
6. Ottawa Senators (63)
7. Florida Panthers (51)
8. Buffalo Sabres (38)
Metropolitan Division:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (83)
2. New York Rangers (67)
3. Philadelphia Flyers (66)
4. Columbus Blue Jackets (63)
5. Washington Capitals (63)
6. Carolina Hurricanes (61)
7. New Jersey Devils (61)
8. New York Islanders (52)

Western Conference
Central Division:
1. St. Louis Blues (84)
2. Chicago Blackhawks (84)
3. Colorado Avalanche (79)
4. Minnesota Wild (69)
5. Dallas Stars (64)
6. Winnipeg Jets (62)
7. Nashville Predators (60)
Pacific Division:
1. Anaheim Ducks (87)
2. San Jose Sharks (80)
3. Los Angeles Kings (68)
4. Phoenix Coyotes (64)
5. Vancouver Canucks (63)
6. Calgary Flames (51)
7. Edmonton Oilers (47)

 

Key Scores:
Chicago Blackhawks 5 – 3 Los Angeles Kings
– Two of the best teams in the league have fallen back behind the leaders in recent weeks and are looking to climb back to the top of their division standings but it was the Blackhawks who came out on top to close the gap with the St. Louis Blues

Ottawa Senators 5 – 4 St. Louis Blues (SO)
– The Blues are sitting at the top of their division at the end of this week but they would meet one road block as the Sens would take them to a shootout and would get the win in the shootout as they tried to move up in their division

Washington Capitals 4 – 2 Winnipeg Jets
– These two teams were building a great rivalry last year when they sat in the same division and would fight it out to make the playoffs but now they only face off twice a year and this time it was the Capitals who came out on top

Toronto Maple Leafs 3 – 1 Vancouver Canucks
– The Canucks came out early to earn a 1-0 lead and seemed to be in control of the game then the Leafs would make a comeback scoring three goals in the third period to take the win between the two largest cities in Canada

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