NHL Week in Review (January 4-10)

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The NHL is a league that has been dominated by certain teams, although it is not always because of their performance on the ice. A few teams take headlines more than any other as they have some of the biggest and craziest fan bases in the league. The majority of these teams are in Canada where hockey is the main story on most days. The kings of this media attention are the two teams that had a major role in creating the league and the legends that make up the history of the NHL. The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens who often take focus whenever they do anything. That was shown this week when the Maple Leafs were at the centre of the hockey world for another day. A day after the Canadian Junior team won Gold at the World Juniors the Leafs dominated hockey talk when they fired Randy Carlyle. The Leafs have been a team that often looks like they are able to compete almost every year. The amount of talent on the team is great but they often struggle to form that team attitude that it takes to win in the NHL. There are a lot of good pieces on the Leafs with two top 10 goal scorers in Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk and top defenceman like the often hated Dion Phaneuf and Cody Franson who eat up minutes. These pieces could be used to be a lot more successful in the NHL if they had the right leadership. The issue is often they have not had the leadership to put these pieces together for a good season that can be consistent. That issue has been a constant in Toronto and it being the centre of the hockey universe everyone had an opinion on how to change it. They fired general manager Brian Burke and they brought in Brendan Shanahan to head up their player personnel. After firing Ron Wilson in 2012 the Leafs hired Randy Carlyle in an attempt to bring that unity but it still wasn’t good enough. Among all of the changes the Leafs had little left to think about this week when they saw their season remaining as inconsistent as it had been in the last few years. So they looked behind the bench once again and fired Carlyle in their second coaching change in three years. The firing of their head coach immediately dominated the NHL as one of the most popular teams in the league was now looking for a new leader. That leader would have to turn around a franchise that has been so inconsistent through the years they are becoming a punchline more than a revered Original Six team. The names range from the absurd to the realistic. There are the rumours of Mike Babcock making his way to Toronto despite a steady job in Detroit or Peter DeBoer who was recently fired from the New Jersey Devils. Some of the more likely candidates though, could be people who have spent some time in the organization, which could be good or bad. One is currently coaching the team as Peter Horachek has taken over head coaching duties. He will likely get most of the rest of this season to prove himself and earn the permanent job. There is also a suddenly available coach who most saw as the heir apparent for the Leafs. Dallas Eakins had been the head coach of the Toronto Marlies, the Leafs’ AHL affiliate, and led that team to a lot of success. He was considered the next head coach of the Leafs until they hired Carlyle and Eakins moved on to Edmonton. Although he did not do a great job in Edmonton he knows this team and many of the top young players on the team which could give him a leg up and trying to get the best out of them. There are other names floating around as well with Guy Boucher, Paul MacLean, and Dan Bylsma have all been mentioned along with a host of others. It is going to be one of the biggest stories in Toronto and because of that it will be one of the biggest stories in the NHL. The debate continues and the power of one team is shown better than ever before how one team can dominate the week in hockey.

(Extra Thoughts on this week in hockey)

Bobrovsky Extended
Almost a cult hero thanks to Jay & Dan Sergei Bobrovsky has proven to be one of the best goaltenders in the league and for that has been given the second largest goaltending contract in the league thanks to a four-year $29.7 million contract

Player Tracking for All-Stars
The NHL is ready to step into a new age but they will test things out first as they will introduce player tracking at the NHL All-Star game that will allow real-time stats for players who will have chips installed in their jerseys

Flyers Fined
The Philadelphia Flyers did not have as long of a break as everyone else in the NHL after they got on a flight on Boxing Day that violated the league’s CBA and forced the league to fine the team


Key Scores:
Anaheim Ducks 4 – 3 Nashville Predators (SO)
– The Preds and Ducks are now sitting at the top of their respective divisions in the Western Conference and they faced off in a battle of the best with the Ducks coming out on top albeit in a shootout

Colorado Avalanche 2 – 0 Chicago Blackhawks
– The Avalanche have been one of the more disappointing teams in the league this year after a great turnaround last year but they are making an attempt at climbing back including beating one of the top teams in the division

New York Rangers 4 – 3 Los Angeles Kings
– The battle of the big cities has now become a battle of two good hockey towns but this time the Rangers came out on top as the traditional market overcame the non-traditional market pushing the Rangers up in their division and the Kings down in theirs

Pittsburgh Penguins 2 – 1 Montreal Canadiens (OT)
– Two of the top teams in the NHL faced off on Saturday as they looked to make a run at the top spot in their respective divisions with the Penguins coming out on top after a close game that was forced to overtime

Next Week:
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Los Angeles Kings (Monday January 12th; 10:30 pm ET)
– The LA-Toronto rivalry is one of the more tame ones in the NHL as they do not meet too often but they still have that coast-to-coast match between non-traditional and traditional markets as the Leafs try to figure out their season before it is too late

New York Islanders vs. New York Rangers (Tuesday January 13th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Battle of New York has taken on a new meaning this year as the Islanders now sit at the top of the Metropolitan division and the Rangers are right in the fight as these two teams face off for much more than just pride

Montreal Canadiens vs. Ottawa Senators (Thursday January 15th; 7:30 pm ET)
– The Sens are quickly being forgotten this year as they continue to stay far from the fight but they will try to make a statement against the rival Canadiens before it is too late to get out of the basement

Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings (Saturday January 17th; 10:00 pm ET)
– The Ducks and Kings once again meet with both teams in the fight for the division as the Ducks sit atop the division and try to stay there and the Kings try to move into the top of the division sa they continue to move in and out of the top three

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