NHL Week in Review (October 16-22)

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The NHL has long been fighting a battle in order to get the attention of fans and grow the sport far beyond Canada.

Hockey is the fastest game out there and there is little question about that as out of the major sports around the world there is not much faster than this one.

Timeouts are very limited, substitutions are made on the fly, and the action flows up and down the ice, unlike any other sport.

There is no break when there is a turnover and little set up when skating down the ice making it a constantly running game that rarely stops.

That in itself makes the game one of the most exciting in the world as it is quick and keeps the action running.

Still, the sport has struggled in some places and for the NHL the solution always seemed to be to increase scoring.

Despite the speed of the game goal-scoring has never really taken off as goaltenders keep up with the speed of the game.

They have been getting better and better every year as they continue to be the most important players on any team.

They have stood up and have kept the goals down in the league and the league knows this.

For years the NHL has been attempting to increase the scoring in the league with rule changes and equipment restrictions.

Even as of this year the discussion about reducing goalie equipment had been a hot topic as the league was considering another reduction.

It was another attempt by the league to increase the scoring by going after the goaltenders and giving them less of a chance to save the shots they were facing.

It might have increased the scoring but it might have also done nothing like the last few times they attempted to increase the scoring throughout the league.

Sometimes things are just the way they are and scoring goals will never be that easy especially with the level of play of the goalies making the league today.

It doesn’t mean that scoring will never go up though and at least for the first week and a half of the season those measures that were begin considered by the league seemed to enter the background.hockey-sidebar

That is because the scoring has been on a different pace than ever before with massive scores around the league.

The average goals for every team have increased to 6.10 goals per game and the talk of trying to increase goals has disappeared.

The interesting part for fans will be whether or not this can continue through a full season. Over the last few years, the average goals per game hovered around 5.50 through a full season.

That has obviously increased and decreased throughout the season but in the end, they always seemed to remain the same.

Now with the increase, the league is hoping that the trend stays and that they are beginning to see a new era in the sport where offence takes on a new level.

They will be watching closely but as with any sport many times the offence comes into the season a step ahead of the defence.

The offence can often come into the season looking much better than the defence or the goalies.

After a while, the defence and goaltending catch up and the offence begins to turn down.

That remains to be seen as the offence is truly taking over right now and for the league, it is a good thing.

More goals mean more excitement and more excitement added to an already exciting game is a big deal.

That can help them grow their fans, a task that has been an issue in recent years.

If this continues it could be the best offensive year since 1992 when the average was over 7.

That would be good news for the league and goalies who won’t have their equipment changed for another year.

Overtime
(More on this week in hockey)

Moving on Up
Jaromir Jagr continues to be the ageless wonder and as a result of his consistency he keeps moving up the record rankings including this week when he became the third person to ever score 750 goals earning his 750th at age 44

Weise Earns First Suspension
The NHL has been a suspensions machine over the last few years with seemingly more suspensions handed out every year and they are starting early as Dale Weise earned a three-game ban for a high hit on Korbinian Holzer

Goalie of the Future
The Pittsburgh Penguins would not be the defending champions if it were not for their young goaltender, Matt Murray and they ensured his experience in the playoffs won’t go to waste signing him to a three-year extension

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Key Scores:
Buffalo Sabres 6-2 Edmonton Oilers
– Without Eichel, the game wasn’t the match-up between two top draft picks from the 2015 draft but despite having their superstar the Oilers couldn’t get by the Sabres who earned their first win of the season

Colorado Avalanche 4-3 Pittsburgh Penguins
– The Avalanche have been a quiet surprise this season as they have risen to the top of the standings early on and on their way, they were able to beat the defending champions in an attempt to show that they are ready to compete

Chicago Blackhawks 7-4 Philadelphia Flyers
– Two teams that have plenty of history of great hockey faced off and the Blackhawks took the win in a season where they have not been able to get off to their usual strong start that most fans are used to

Winnipeg Jets 5-4 Toronto Maple Leafs
– Every year there is the top pick in the NHL draft and the second pick that are forever linked with debates about who is better and for the first time the first and second pick from 2016 faced off with Patrik Laine coming out on top with a hat trick and Auston Matthews being blanked

Next Week:
Edmonton Oilers vs. Winnipeg Jets (Sunday, October 23rd; 3:00 pm ET)
– The NHL will have four outdoor games this year and they will start early as the Heritage Classic takes place in Winnipeg as the Jets host the Oilers at Investors Group Field in the first outdoor game this year

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (Tuesday, October 23rd; 7:30 pm ET)
– Steven Stamkos seemed like he was headed home to Toronto when the free agency period was approaching as he had yet to sign a deal with the Lightning and many thought he would want to go home but he decided against it and now he goes home to his old team

Detroit Red Wings vs. St. Louis Blues (Thursday, October 25th; 8:00 pm ET)
– the Blues have flown up the standings to start the season as they remain one of the best teams in the league while the Red Wings have been an average team so far with both of these teams now facing off to continue their good starts

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers (Saturday, October 27th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The battle of Pennsylvania hits the ice as the defending champions are the kings of their state and hope to prove it against the Flyers who will try to get some bragging rights of their own in their state

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