NHL Week in Review (October 23-29)

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The NHL has always been built on the popularity of the sport in Canada with the biggest and most successful franchises all coming from north of the border.

It has always been the one place that has never wavered in their love for the sport and for their teams.

The only issue in Canada has been that the Canadian teams have not been the most successful over the last decade.

It all culminated last year when the playoffs saw no Canadian team make the playoffs guaranteeing that the Canadian drought would continue.

That drought has lasted since the Montreal Canadiens won the 1993 Stanley Cup and since then no Canadian team has taken the Cup that originated in the country.

It is a tough thing for Canadian hockey fans to see as their national sport has gone to the Americans.

It is somewhat deceiving though as the American teams are made up mainly of Canadian players.

Still, not seeing a Canadian city celebrating a Stanley Cup in over two decades is a concern for most Canadian hockey fans.

It has been far too long for these teams to sit at the bottom of the league and out of the playoffs while the Canadians fans continue to support them.

It could all be changing though as the NHL is seeing a Canadian resurgence early this year that, at the very least, shows signs of resurgence in Canada.

Canadian teams are all playing much better this season and for the majority of the teams, it is an injection of youth that has boosted their standing.

In Montreal, it hasn’t been an injection of youth but rather a continuation of their dominance over the past few years.

The Canadiens have been the only team in Canada that has consistently been good but last year they fell apart missing the playoffs.

This year they seem to be back with a healthy Carey Price and a more defensively responsible Shea Weber leading them to a great record where they yet to lose in regulation.

They are continuing to be the top team in the country and are back to what many were used to seeing.

What is more surprising is how everyone else is performing at this point in the season.

In the west, the Vancouver Canucks are staying in the battle with a more senior team than most teams in Canada.

They are not as dominant as Montreal but they are staying in the fight with a team made up of a mix of veterans and young stars.hockey-sidebar

In Alberta, both the Flames and the Oilers are having great years so far and it is all thanks to their young teams.

The Flames have put together a young team a few years ago and now they are beginning to find their way as they sit near the top of the division.

Just down the road, the addition of Connor McDavid has proven to be a big win for the Oilers who have actually seen a first place for the first time in a very long time.

They remain at the top of their division giving long-suffering fans some positive news at the start of the year.

In the east with the Canadiens remaining one of the best teams, the Ottawa Senators are also rising up the standings staying in the fight.

The only team not following the trend is in Toronto but it is not all bad in Toronto.

The Maple Leafs are a team that is still building but with the young talent they have on their team things are looking good for the future.

It won’t translate to this year as they will likely finish near the bottom of the league again but the promise is there.

Although the Leafs are sitting outside of the trend Canadian teams are starting this year in better shape than they have for years.

Of course, the season is just starting and there is a lot of hockey to play before the playoffs come into focus.

For now, though the promise of Canadian teams have never been higher and even if the trend falls off sometime in the season great starts can be big later in the year.

For Canadian fans, it is a big thing as their teams are finally a part of the battle in the league and if at least a few can continue this trend the chance of a Stanley Cup coming back to Canada becomes a lot more likely.

(More on this week in hockey)

Early Access
As the league continues to prepare for a brand new team they continue to try to give the new Las Vegas team a good head start as they will get an exclusive 48-hour window to negotiate during free agency

Decision Day for Youngsters
As the start of the season continues it is time for many teams to make big decisions when it comes to their young talent as the deadline approaches to send their young stars back to juniors before they become a permanent NHL player

First for KHL
The KHL continued to expand this year when they put a team in China for the first time ever and a part of that team was former NHL draft pick, Zach Yuen who became the first Chinese-born player to score in the KHL


Key Scores:
Edmonton Oilers 3-0 Winnipeg Jets
– The Jets won the legends game a day before but the Oilers spoiled the party in the Heritage Classic as they took the win in the first outdoor game of the season in Winnipeg as they took the signature win for the season

Tampa Bay Lightning 7-3 Toronto Maple Leafs
– Leaf fans got a hard dose of reality when they saw what could have been with Steven Stamkos scoring twice on the night after deciding to stay in Tampa despite rumours of his exit for Toronto in the off-season

Edmonton Oilers 2-0 Vancouver Canucks
– Edmonton’s youngsters took another win as they were able to get a more experienced Canucks team as Connor McDavid led the way with a goal to keep Edmonton near the top of the division

Pittsburgh Penguins 5-4 Philadelphia Flyers
– The battle of Pennsylvania got underway on a big rivalry night and once again the Penguins came out on top with Sidney Crosby leading the way in his first game back from his concussion issue earlier this year

Next Week:
Los Angeles Kings vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Sunday, October 30th; 7:00 pm ET)
– It was once the biggest rivalry in the west as both teams fought for the western title over the first part of this decade but this year both are just trying to stay above an even record as they face off under many different circumstances

Edmonton Oilers vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (Tuesday, November 1st; 7:30 pm ET)
– Two of the brightest young stars will face-off for the first time as Toronto’s Auston Matthews and Edmonton’s Connor McDavid go head-to-head looking to prove who is the better player and who can guide their team to a win

Vancouver Canucks vs. Montreal Canadiens (Wednesday, November 2nd; 7:30 pm ET)
– The Canadiens enter the game looking to stay undefeated in regulation as they try to remain the best team in the league while the Canucks are hoping to end the great season and surprise everyone with a big win

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. San Jose Sharks (Saturday, November 5th; 10:30 pm; ET)
– It will be a Stanley Cup rematch as the Penguins look to win another game over the Sharks and stay on top of their division while the Sharks try to get some revenge and stay at the top of their own division

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