NHL Week in Review (March 6-12)

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The NHL is a young man’s game and it seems to be getting only younger as new players enter the league with higher expectations than ever.

The stories in the NHL have long been about what’s next and who can put together a team of the best young talent.

So far it has been effective for many teams, not so much for others, as young players have led their teams to new heights.

It seems like every successful team needs to have that young talent that can lead the way especially those with one or two years under their belts.

It is the way that the NHL is going and they will continue to go as every year there is yet another superstar to be drafted.

In that haze of looking for the young talented players, the value of veterans can be overlooked.

This season has been much of the same as young stars have taken focus from everyone.

Connor McDavid was one of the biggest names in the season as everyone wanted to watch the wonder-kid and see how he did.

Then came Artemi Panarin who began leading all rookies in points while McDavid’s “rival” Jack Eichel made good on his hype.

As the rookies played well some young players with a few years into their time began dominating as Patrick Kane has had the season of his life while Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have led the Dallas Stars to a surprising season.

While all of these players, all who are under 30-years old, dominated other players were often put to the side.

Other players like those players that are approaching 40-years old or past that age and still playing great.

There are a number of players in that age group that are not only just sticking around but are actually leading their team in the pursuit of a playoffs spot.

In Colorado the Avalanche are fighting a tough battle for the western wild card and are in that spot largely thanks to their veteran presence.

Although Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon are leading the team in scoring Jarome Iginla has added 40 points this year including 19 goals.

He has been a big reason for the Avs to get this far as he comes up at big times to score and despite their great young talent, he has been a major difference.hockey-sidebar

In San Jose, the team continues to rely on older players like Joe Thornton who is top ten in scoring and has helped to bring the Sharks to the top three in the division.

Then there is Jaromir Jagr who has been the biggest reason for the resurgence of the Florida Panthers.

At 44-years-old, Jagr is leading the Panthers in scoring and moving past the top scorers in the history of the league.

If there is any evidence of how impactful veterans can be it has to be Jagr.

There is no doubt that having a team with good young players is essential in this new age of the NHL.

After all, the Chicago Blackhawks have done things with a fairly young team for years and have won three Stanley Cups.

Then again the core of the team was young but they still mixed in important older veterans like Marian Hossa to help them along.

As important those young players are there will always be space for those players that have been around long enough to see everything.

They can clearly still provide on the scoresheet and more than that provide leadership when things get tough.

For a team full of young stars it is essential to have that veteran presence to help them out, something that the best teams have figured out.

As the playoff race continues these veterans will only be more important as the league may be for the young but the veterans are needed and having a bigger impact on a number of teams than they have before.

Overtime:
(Other News this week in hockey)

The Century Mark
The Toronto Maple Leafs are going all out for their 100th anniversary and the league will lay a helping hand as the Leafs will host their first outdoor game at BMO in the Centennial Classic against Detroit next January

A Full Schedule
The Centennial Classic won’t be the only outdoor game as the league announced plans to go to Winnipeg for the Heritage Classic, St. Louis for the Winter Classic and Pittsburgh for the Stadium Series next season

Drouin Returns
Jonathan Drouin has had an interesting year as he refused to play for the Tampa Bay Lightning’s AHL affiliate after demanding a trade but with the trade deadline gone and Drouin remaining a part of the franchise he returned to the AHL and will likely be moved in the off-season

Investigations Over
Patrick Kane and Evander Kane have both had off-ice issues this year with allegations of sexual assault turning public opinion against both of them but after investigations were launched it was determined that both allegations were unfounded

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Key Scores:
New York Islanders 6 – 4 New York Rangers
– This round in the Battle of New York went to the Islanders who continue to fight for a better spot in the division against their cross-city rivals while the Rangers took the loss and lost a little bit of their lead

Los Angeles Kings 5 – 1 Vancouver Canucks
– The Kings seemed like they were going to cruise to the division title until their in-state partners began challenging as they took a win against the Canucks which became much more important and kept the Canucks at arms-length of the playoffs

St. Louis Blues 3 – 2 Chicago Blackhawks
– The old rivalry will be renewed next year outdoors but for now, the Blackhawks were just trying to stay afloat in the constant shuffle in the central division which they couldn’t do losing the Blues and falling to third place

Winnipeg Jets 3 – 2 Colorado Avalanche
– After getting out to an early lead the Avs allowed three straight goals and lost the game while also losing their hold on the wild card as they continue to play every game as a playoff game in their battle for the western wild card

Next Week:
Los Angeles Kings vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Monday, March 14th; 8:00 pm ET)
– The Blackhawks seem to be headed to the playoffs but they are still battling inside their division as they take on the other dominant team of the decade looking to figure out their own division battle with both teams trying to go in as the top team in their respective divisions

Colorado Avalanche vs. Vancouver Canucks (Wednesday, March 16th; 10:00 pm ET)
– The Avalanche are still fighting for a wild card as they are trying to get that spot while the Canucks are trying to stay in that fight as it is quickly becoming a two-horse race in the western wild card

Minnesota Wild vs. New Jersey Devils (Thursday, March 17th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Wild are one of the small number of teams that have a really good shot at taking a wildcard and they will take on the Devils in an attempt to keep hold of that spot while the Devils look to play spoiler

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers (Saturday, March 19th; 1:00 pm ET)
– The Battle of Pennsylvania didn’t seem to mean much at the start of the season but the Flyers have risen to be true contenders as they try to take out their in-state rivals and get closer to a playoff spot that they didn’t think they could get at the start of the season

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