NHL Week in Review (January 25-31)

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The NHL saw the end of an amazing career this week and the end of what became a man trying to hold on to the thing he loved. Martin Brodeur will go down as the greatest goaltender ever with almost ever record that a goalie can take. There is no doubt that he will find his way into the Hall of Fame as soon as he can and he will be mentioned among the legends of the sport. His time in the NHL was clearly coming to an end in the last few years as he was no longer the dominant goaltender he used to be. He was the face of the New Jersey Devils for more than a decade until this year when he started his season without a team. The writing was on the wall in the last few seasons as the Devils had traded for Cory Schneider who was beginning to get more and more playing time with the team. That made Brodeur more and more of a backup in his last few years in the Northeast. After last year he was not re-signed as the Devils looked to go in a new direction after relying on veterans like Brodeur for too long. So Brodeur was left in the free agent pool as an aging goalie that was not a dominant goaltender anymore but did not want to be a backup. The St. Louis Blue eventually came calling after an injury to Brian Elliott in November left them with no solid alternative in net. They signed Brodeur on a tryout basis and eventually he began a tandem with Jake Allen in net. He was not the Brodeur of old but he was good enough. Hen Elliott recovered and there was little room for Brodeur in the rotation forcing him to take a leave of absence and figure out his options. The decision came down this week when he announced his retirement after almost 21 years in the NHL. The tributes began and the memories were unleashed after his announcement as many people took a look at the great career that Brodeur had put together. What many did not talk about though was just how close Brodeur came to hurting his own reputation. It has happened to many athletes before as they try to hang on to the thing they love and the only thing they have known for so long. It is never an easy decision to retire for any player but when that decision has to be made for a player at the level of Brodeur. Many players don’t want to give up the thing they have been playing for years but often injuries or the fact that they are not good enough to find a place to play can make the decision easier. When a player has been at the top of the game and has been the best at his position for years that decision becomes a lot tougher. That is what Brodeur was facing as he had been the best goalie in the league for years. Now he was facing an uncertain future and instead of simply focusing on his next game he had to think about what he was going to do for the future. Without a spot on the Devils, Brodeur was in an unfamiliar position but was not willing to give up just yet. His time with the Blues was the final step though as he was clearly not a goaltender that could hang on any longer with the new stars coming into the net. Without the Blues Brodeur would have likely spent the rest of the season as a free agent and faded into retirement. He got one last chance to go out on his skates and he did just that after carefully considering what he was going to do next. It was the right decision to make as he could have easily continued to try to find a place to play and hurt his legend. The longer he went trying to get back to playing and not achieving that goal the more his legend would have been tainted as someone who didn’t know when to quit. Now he walks into the Blues offices as a member of their front office with his legend intact as the greatest goalie in NHL history.

(Extra Thoughts on this week in hockey)

Updating the AHL
The American Hockey League will receive a facelift for next season as the NHL has decided to create a brand new Pacific division that will see teams relocate to the West in order to help the NHL teams on the West coast by putting their farm teams closer

Another Legend in Trouble
The NHL has had many legends get sick and some pass away this season and another one has unfortunately joined the pattern as it was revealed that former Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita is dealing with health issues stemming from Dementia

A Record Night
The 2015 All-Star Game was not great hockey, most people would agree, but it did provide something to talk about as the teams combined for 29 goals in total with the goalies and defence taking the night off

Mike Richards on the Sidelines
When Mike Richards went to Los Angeles most expected him to be a big part of the offence but he has not been able to meet those expectations and so he found his way to the waiver wire as one of the best players in the NHL is no longer at that level and may not find a home


Key Scores:
Team Toews 17 – 12 Team Foligno
– The All-Star game was a usual display of offence while the defence and the goalies continued to take a backseat as the teams combined for 29 total goals with the home town favourites taking the loss

New York Islanders 4 – 1 New York Rangers
– The Battle of New York continued as both teams fight for one of the top three spots in the division and this time it was the Islanders that came out on top and remained the first place team in the Metropolitan Division

Los Angeles Kings 4 – 3 Chicago Blackhawks
– The Kings and Blackhawks have been battling for supremacy in the Western Conference as they have met multiple times in the Western Conference playoffs and throughout the season with the Kings coming out on top in this match

Calgary Flames 4 – 2 Edmonton Oilers
– The Battle of Alberta got underway again as the two teams are sitting at very different spots with the Flames sitting just outside of the top three and the Oilers sitting at the bottom of the league where they stayed at the end of the Flames win

Next Week:
Colorado Avalanche vs. Dallas Stars (Tuesday February 3rd; 8:30 pm ET)
– The Avs are still struggling to find their way to the top of the division and standing in their way is the Stars who themselves are trying to find their way to one of the top three spots as they fight it out in the Central division

Boston Bruins vs. New York Rangers (Wednesday February 4th; 8:00 pm ET)
– The Bruins and the Rangers are sitting right outside of the playoffs in their respective divisions as they face off looking to continue the hunt to earn one of the top three spots and a playoff seed

Detroit Red Wings vs. Colorado Avalanche (Thursday February 5th; 9:00 pm ET)
– The Red Wings and Avalanche have had a long-standing rivalry and although it has not been as big as usual with the Red Wings moving East but with the announcement of an outdoor game next year this rivalry may bring a spark to this game

New York Islanders vs. Boston Bruins (Saturday February 7th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Islanders are the most surprising team in the NHL this year as they have risen to the top of the Metropolitan Division while the Bruins are trying to get back to the top of their division and hope to get a leg up by beating the Isles

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