NHL Week in Review (February 7-13)

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have been one of the top teams in the NHL over the last decade as they seemed to be on their way to a dynasty.

A large part of that was the fact that the Penguins won the draft lotter in 2005 which was one of the biggest drafts in the history of the league.

That draft had what many considered to be the best player since Wayne Gretzky right at the top and was the first year of the lottery.

The Penguins won the lottery and took Sidney Crosby with the first overall pick and immediately started to compete in the league.

Crosby led the team to better records every year until eventually he led Pittsburgh back to the Stanley Cup in 2009.

At that point it looked like Crosby and the rest of the young team were going to be a force for the near future but that hasn’t been the case.

Crosby began getting hurt with serious concussion issues limiting him to 99 games in three seasons from 2010-2013.

Those concussions came just after Crosby rose as the best player in the league.

He was winning every major award a player can and taking home plenty of championships outside of the NHL.

Then the concussions started and Crosby wasn’t the same player that he had been in his first few years.

The Penguins stayed good but without Crosby playing his best they didn’t seem to have that little extra they needed to take home a championship.

Crosby has recovered from that over the past few years and remained at or near the top of the league but has been somewhat streaky.

He hasn’t been able to sustain great seasons throughout the entire year and usually falls off, along with the Penguins, at the end of the season.

This year it seemed like the Penguins were taking that bad finish from a year ago into a new season.

They struggled to be relevant for most of the season and were forgotten when the season approached the halfway point.

It was all tied once again to their leader in Crosby who was still putting up points but was not taking over games like he had done before.

The best player in hockey wasn’t even named to the all-star game after his struggles to start the year.hockey-sidebar

That all-star snub may have shocked him awake though as he has looked like a different player after the all-star break.

In the six games before the all-star break Crosby put up 8 points, not bad but not his usual level.

In the six games since the break Crosby has put up 12 points and has brought the Penguins back to relevancy in the season.

After struggling all year the Penguins seem like they’re ready to make their way back into the conversation.

It is a role reversal for the Penguins as they approach the playoff push in a few months and could be playing their best hockey.

They haven’t done that in the past and with everyone writing them off already they could be a surprise pick to go a long ways in the playoffs.

After all it is not how a team starts a game but rather how they can finish the season as they head into the playoffs.

That playoff run has yet to begin with the trade deadline upcoming but teams will be looking to get things started now before it is too late.

That is what the Penguins and Crosby are trying to do as their slow start is beginning to fade.

If they can find their way out of the basement that they fell into they could find themselves in a great fight for the Cup when all is said and done.

They won’t be alone though as a number of teams are running out of time to get back to winning before they are out of playoff contention.

Overtime
(Other News this week in hockey)

Emptying the Cupboard
The Toronto Maple Leafs seem to be headed nowhere as the rebuild began a year ago but the final piece of that rebuild seemed to be done this week when the Leafs traded captain Dion Phaneuf to Ottawa in a nine player deal

Heading to the Madhouse
For the first time in NHL history the NHL Draft will travel to a hockey hotbed in Chicago as the 2017 draft will be held at the United Center with the Blackhawks playing host to the next generation of NHL players

Building Block
The Jets had a big decision to make with the trade deadline approaching as Dustin Byfuglien was going to be a free agent at the end of the year but they decided to sign him to a 5-year $38-million deal making him the building block for the future of the team

Changes in the State of Hockey
The Minnesota Wild started the season strong enough but have fallen off the pace in the toughest division in the league and as a result they have fired head coach Mike Yeo with John Torchetti taking over as the interim head coach

standings-w19.fw

Key Scores:
New York Islanders 8 – 1 Edmonton Oilers
– The Oilers were hoping that the return of Connor McDavid was going to mean new things for their team and they got their test against the Islanders who took the win and showed that the Oilers have some room to grow

New York Rangers 2 – 1 New Jersey Devils
– The Hudson River Rivalry is a little more important this year than before as both teams try to fight at the top of the division and this time it was the Rangers who came out on top and stayed at the top of the division

Dallas Stars 4 – 2 Chicago Blackhawks
– The Blackhawks and the Stars were facing off in a big regular season game as Chicago was trying to stay on top and the Stars were trying to take them out with the Stars taking the win and proving that they are ready to compete this year

Colorado Avalanche 3 – 2 Detroit Red Wings (SO)
– In a preview of the Stadium Series game at Coors Field and old rivalry was fired up again with the Avalanche winning this round in a tight game that needed a shootout to decide a winner as many people hope this is what they see in a few weeks

Next Week:
Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings (Sunday February 14th; 12:30 pm ET)
– The Bruins and the Wings are fighting in what is becoming a tight battle in the atlantic that has gone back and forth all season as both teams look to take the win helping them to stay in the top three of the division

Chicago Blackhawks vs. New York Rangers (Wednesday February 17th; 8:00 pm ET)
– The Blackhawks are still one of the best teams in the league and look ready for a deep playoff run this year which could put them into the Stanley Cup where the Rangers hope to be as well and both teams will face-off in a match of two good teams

Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders (Thursday February 18th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Capitals remain at the top of the division later into the season and hope to remain their all year but there are plenty of challengers including the Islanders who will try to take the win and reduce the lead by the Caps

Boston Bruins vs. Dallas Stars (Saturday February 20th; 8:00 pm ET)
– The Stars are playing under the radar as one of the best teams in the league and they will try to show everyone just how good they are against the Bruins who continue to fight in what is becoming a more competitive division every week

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