NHL Week in Review (February 22-28)

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It is that time again in hockey as one of the most exciting days in the NHL schedule is back for another year. The NHL trade deadline has been made into one of the biggest dates in hockey as it is one of the few major North American leagues that has more than enough action on the deadline day. There may not always be the biggest names or huge, ground-breaking trades but there are always moves on the last day. It is a strange thing for major sports as no other league has this type of day in their calendar with most trade deadlines coming and going with very little news. Over time the NHL has benefitted from the increased coverage on TV and the habits of their general managers to wait until the last second to strike a deal. Mostly that is because many teams looking for a big deal are not willing to give up a lot to get what they want and often want to wait to see what other teams will offer. With many GMs waiting until the last few days the trend is also for many teams to wait and see if they can get a certain player and if they can’t have plenty of backups that they look to in the final hours after their #1 guy is gone. As teams continue to weave their way through the ups and downs of the NHL trade deadline there is one group that has a much tougher time than any other. NHL players have a lot more protection than they have ever had as they are treated less like property in these days but the truth is that teams can generally do what they want with the players that they pay. Aside from the players who have no trade clauses every player can be for sale at this point in the year. Even those with the no-trade clauses can find themselves on the other side of a trade if their contract allows for them to provide a list of pre-approved teams to go to in a trade. That leaves the majority of players up for grabs and when a team is in the selling mood their top players become the biggest selling points to get back a number of young players. That truth in hockey can make it a tough few days for these players as they try to go about their business without paying attention to the rumours but eventually the rumours become more realistic. When a player is consistently asked if they know about a trade or the trade talk they are going to start thinking about potential trades and that talk comes much more frequently around this time in the season. That can truly effect some players as they start wondering if they are going to stay in the city they have many times grown to love and if they will have to move their family or leave their family for an extended period of time to play for their new team. It can truly weight on players and although they are professional players and it comes with the territory they are still human. These worries about players that have been talked about for months can affect them in big ways as they try to ignore the distractions and play hockey. It can be much worse on the trade deadline day as players could be moved at any point in time up to 4:00 pm ET. That has led to a number of players started a morning skate with one team and getting on a flight to a new city before the game they were preparing for starts. It can be a tough day for many players as they pick up their lives in an instant and move cities with all eyes on them to fix a team’s problems or to simply do something to help an already good team. Many players will go through this up and down day on March 2nd when the NHL holds their trade deadline and teams look to prepare for the playoff push and the run to the most exciting time in hockey.

(Extra Thoughts on this week in hockey)

Winter Classic in Happy Valley?
With the outdoor games now finished for the NHL this year the talk turns to the future and one of the possibilities that has arisen is a game at Penn State although nothing has been confirmed it has piqued the interest of Gary Bettman

Kane out of the lineup
The Chicago Blackhawks have not had the best run as of late but they remain in the playoffs hunt although they will now have to do it all without one of the best players as Patrick Kane will miss three months with a broken clavicle

Expanding the playoffs?
The NHL could soon be expanding their playoffs as a new playoff proposal that would expand the amount of teams in the playoffs to 20 teams that would include four wild cards teams in each conference that would be required to play in single elimination games


Key Scores:
Boston Bruins 6 – 2 Chicago Blackhawks
– The Chicago Blackhawks are not the dominant team they used to be and that proved true against the Bruins who easily got by the Blackhawks and continued their march back into the battle for the top three

Los Angeles Kings 1 – 0 Detroit Red Wings
– The Kings seemed like they were on their way out of the playoffs only a month ago but they are finding their way back into the hunt and a win over the Red Wings has helped them move into the top three in the Pacific

St. Louis Blues 2 – 1 Winnipeg Jets (SO)
– The Blues are ready to get into a playoff run but the same cannot be said for the Jets who are still trying to get their spot in the playoffs and took at least one point from this game which is what they need to keep doing throughout the playoff run

Detroit Red Wings 4 – 3 Nashville Predators
– Despite the promising season from the Predators the Red Wings were sure to show that they still have plenty left in the tank as they beat the best team in the NHL and continued to hold strong in a top three spot

Next Week:
Nashville Predators vs. New York Rangers (Tuesday March 2nd; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Predators have risen to be the best team in the NHL and they continue to run through the rest of the league but the Rangers are hoping to take them down a notch while remaining at the top of the Metropolitan

Calgary Flames vs. Boston Bruins (Thursday March 5th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Flames are in the middle of a resurgent year but injuries have put their playoff hopes in doubt as they take on the Bruins hoping to find an extra gear in order to move them back into the playoffs at the end of the year

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Anaheim Ducks (Friday March 6th; 10:00 pm ET)
– The Penguins are finally back from their brief issues a few weeks ago and they look to climb the standings while they take on one of the best teams in the league and an almost sure-fire cup contender in the Anaheim Ducks

Winnipeg Jets vs. Nashville Predators (Saturday March 7th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Jets are just looking for a playoff push as they sit right on the edge of the playoffs and they look to prove they belong when they take on the Predators who have risen to be the best team in the NHL

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