NHL Week in Review (Olympic Break Edition)

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The NHL is back as the Olympic Break is officially over and the season starts up again at the very start of the stretch run. Many teams are coming close to the 20 game mark where the run towards the playoffs becomes the only thing that the NHL teams will be looking towards. The playoff run is about to start but this year it will have a different feel. The Olympic Break will have a bigger effect on the rest of the season as the 10 days off could hurt or help teams leading into the final part of the season. The Olympics are a great event and an event that exposes the game of hockey and the NHL as a league to the world. This year the hockey in the Olympics was not the most exciting as the bigger ice would take a lot of the physical play and the offence away from the sport. In the end the Canadians would come out on top in a dominant performance from their last two games. They would employ a defence first strategy that would see them beat the USA 1-0 in the Semi-Finals and the Swedes 3-0 in the gold medal game. Sweden would end up with the silver medal while Finland would beat the USA to earn the bronze medal. The players involved would get the chance to be a part of a big event and put their countries emblem on their chest in what could be the last time the NHL sends their players to the Olympics. Many NHL players would make the trip to Sochi to play for their countries but not all would come back unscathed. Some players would come back with some very bad news as a handful of them would not finish the tournament. There would be a number of injuries in the tournament and some nagging injuries that would come back. Henrik Zetterberg would play one game before his back was reinjured while other players would see their tournament end on major injuries. John Tavares was the most notable as the captain of the New York Islanders would go down with a knee injury that originally would be seen as a season ending injury. Upon his return to New York it was determined that he would not need surgery and that he would likely miss 6-8 weeks. Meanwhile on his return to the Montreal Canadiens Carey price would reveal a lower-body injury that he would aggravate during the Olympics. He now sits on the sidelines leaving Peter Budaj in net for the Canadiens. The injuries that were seen through the Olympics will have their effect on their teams as these teams try to move on from losing some important parts to their teams. The injuries are not the only effect that the Olympics will have on the rest of the NHL season as there are even more players who are now coming off of a 10 day break. Although some players have been playing throughout the 10 days in the break and have had to adjust to travelling to Sochi, Russia then back to North America there are more who did not make the team. At this point in the season the competition between teams becomes more about who can outlast that other than anything else. This is the time when the players have been through a long stretch of playing and are beat up with small injuries that are being overcome every time they step on the ice. This year though the majority of the league has just had a 10 day break to heal up and recharge. They would get time to recover from the bumps and bruises that they have received over the season and would get some time to move away from the game for 10 days. The mental recovery is just as important as the physical recovery for players as many have come back to their teams feeling refreshed and ready to fight for their team and earn a spot in the playoffs. That will be a key in this year’s playoff race as teams look to make their last run at the playoffs with a group of players that is generally in better health than any other year. That will only make the final stretch of the season better as more teams will be in the hunt and with a new playoff system the fight for the top three in each division and the final two wild card spots are sure to be great races. The Olympic break is over and the NHL is back as the playoff race is set to begin with some players looking to add another trophy to the hardware they earned in the 10 day break.

 

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

The Deadline Extended
The Trade Deadline is fast approaching but teams have not been waiting to make a deal as the Buffalo Sabres would trade Ryan Miller and Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues for Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, William Carrier, a 1st round pick in 2015, and a 3rd round pick in 2016

Esposito Sounds Off
With the Trade Deadline around the corner the rumours are circulating including the rumours that Martin St. Louis wants out of Tampa Bay but that rumour would anger and NHL legend as Phil Esposito would sound off claiming that those rumours were ridiculous

The Debate Begins Now
With the Olympics over the negotiations for the NHL to return to the Olympics in 2018 are set to begin with the NHL claiming that a decision will be made in the next few months as the NHL era of the Olympics may be over

Rangers Decisions
The New York Rangers have to make some decisions before the deadline and one would come to fruition as they would sign Dan Girardi to a contract while Ryan Callahan remains unsigned and remains a major name in trade talks

 

NHL Standings

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division:
1. Boston Bruins (79)
2. Montreal Canadiens (75)
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (73)
4. Toronto Maple Leafs (72)
5. Detroit Red Wings (68)
6. Ottawa Senators (63)
7. Florida Panthers (51)
8. Buffalo Sabres (44)
Metropolitan Division:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (84)
2. New York Rangers (69)
3. Philadelphia Flyers (68)
4. Washington Capitals (67)
5. Columbus Blue Jackets (65)
6. New Jersey Devils (65)
7. Carolina Hurricanes (61)
8. New York Islanders (54)

Western Conference
Central Division:
1. Chicago Blackhawks (86)
2. St. Louis Blues (84)
3. Colorado Avalanche (81)
4. Minnesota Wild (73)
5. Dallas Stars (66)
6. Winnipeg Jets (66)
7. Nashville Predators (62)
Pacific Division:
1. Anaheim Ducks (89)
2. San Jose Sharks (82)
3. Los Angeles Kings (74)
4. Vancouver Canucks (66)
5. Phoenix Coyotes (65)
6. Calgary Flames (53)
7. Edmonton Oilers (48)

 

Key Scores:
Canada 3 – 0 Sweden
– The Olympics would end when the Canadians would dominate the Swedes in the gold medal game as Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, and Chris Kunitz would all score their first goals of the tournament to help Canada repeat as Olympic champions

Buffalo Sabres 3 – 2 Carolina Hurricanes
– The NHL season would continue on when the Sabres took on the Hurricanes in the first game back and the Sabres would start their season reboot with a big win over the Canes thanks to Christian Ehrhoff’s two goals

Buffalo Sabres 4 – 2 San Jose Sharks
– The Sabres became the talk of the NHL this week as they would ring in the rest of the season while they would also make a big pre-trade deadline deal sending franchise goalie Ryan Miller to St. Louis but would win their first game without him showing fans that they did not give up

Chicago Blackhawks 5 – 1 Pittsburgh Penguins
– The NHL Stadium Series would travel to Soldier Field where the snow would be the main story but that snow would not seem to bother the Blackhawks as they would go ahead quickly and beat the Pens

 

Next Week:
Ottawa Senators vs. Vancouver Canucks (Sunday March 2nd; 4:00 pm ET)
– The season of outdoor games will come to an end this week when the Sens travel to Vancouver to play the Heritage Classic at B.C. Place that will mark the last stadium game of the year

Colorado Avalanche vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Tuesday March 4th; 8:00 pm ET)
– The Avs have had a great season so far and they are hoping that this last part of the season continues their run towards the playoffs as they take on the Blackhawks in hopes of helping to solidify their spot among the top three in the division

Los Angeles Kings vs. Winnipeg Jets (Thursday March 6th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Jets are in tough right now but with a new coach ready to lead them into the final stretch of the season they are hoping that they can make a run while the Kings are hoping to get the win and move further into the top three of their division

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (Saturday March 8th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Flyers and the Leafs are sitting in good standing if the season ended today but the season is still going and both teams are hoping to continue to sit among the top three in their divisions to earn spots in the playoffs as they try to get two points from each other

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