NHL Week in Review (November 6-12)

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Team sports are the most popular sports with the biggest leagues in the world because they offer something interesting.

It is not just about how good of an athlete is or how powerful or fast they are that determines how good a team is throughout a season.

They can have a huge group of athlete fast players but if they can’t play together the athleticism means little.

Every team sport needs this teamwork to be successful as there is no way to be the best team without having everyone working together.

The NHL is no different as some teams spend an entire season trying to figure out the best combination of lines.

Putting lines together has become one of the most important coaching jobs and the most scrutinised.

When things aren’t working coaches usually look to their lines to turn things around before anything else.

Finding those combinations that work best together can be some of the biggest issues and advantages to any team looking for the Stanley Cup.

Clearly, the NHL is not an individual sport as every champion has put together teams that are good from top to bottom.

They may all have their stars that account for the majority of their goals but when the playoffs come, those stars usually give way to the rest of the team.

The great players are extremely important but having a team that can put up points or play good defence beyond the top tier makes the difference for champions.

When putting together a team GMs know that they need to be better than just their best player but not every team can get there.

It can sometimes be deceiving for teams as they see plenty of success in the regular season but falter in the playoffs without truly realising that one play has been carrying them all year.

The Montreal Canadiens are the perfect example of this type of team as they have been one of the best teams in the league over the last few years but that greatness usually ends in the playoffs.

That is because they rely far too much on their best player to carry them through the regular season.

It helps that their great player is a goaltender and is also the best goaltender in the league right now.

Carey Price has become the best goaltender in the league over the last few years as he regularly puts up massive save numbers.

He is the reason that the Canadiens have been as good as they have been over the last few years.

That is seen every time that Price has been hurt over the last few years and the Canadiens have struggled.

It was seen even more last week when the Canadiens lost their first regulation game in stunning fashion.hockey-sidebar

The Canadiens were the best team in the league all year but when they gave Price the night off on the first of back-to-back things got ugly.

It was Al Montoya’s turn to step in and the team gave him an easy one as they were taking on Columbus, one of the worst teams in the league.

The Canadiens then allowed 10 goals and couldn’t put anything into the net against the Blue Jackets.

Part of that was Al Montoya’s fault although he couldn’t have been taken out as the Canadiens needed to rest Price.

Part of it was the defence in front of him and another part has to be the offence that gave him no support against one of the worst teams in the league.

The loss was concerning for Canadiens fans as many wondered if their start was just a fluke.

Then Price returned and this week they haven’t lost a game with their star in net.

The fact is that the Canadiens are a team depending on their star player to carry them through the year.

Price is great but he is one part of a larger team and like years before he can only take them so far.

The powers that be seem to not grasp that but with that type of loss, the executives in Montreal might watch every Montoya tart closely in case they need to make some serious moves to avoid those issues.

The Canadiens’ struggles without Price are the perfect example of how a team needs to build a winner.

No team can rely on one player no matter how great they are and only the championship teams realise this and have done this.

Overtime
(More on this week in hockey)

Scary Diagnosis
Brian Bickell has always been a grinder who doesn’t necessarily stick in one place too often but his biggest battle is about to come after he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that attacks the nervous system and eventually renders patients disabled

No Suspension for Kadri
Last week the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks were in the middle fo a tough battle that turned ugly late and much of it had to do with a hit thrown by Nazem Kadri but to the disappointment of the Canucks Kadri avoided discipline this week

Under the Wire
Jacob Trouba was running out of time to sign a contract or he wouldn’t be able to play the rest of the season and with that deadline approaching the deadlock between him and the Jets came to an end as he signed a two-year contract

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Key Scores:
Florida Panthers 3-1 Tampa Bay Lightning
– The Battle of Florida was a very important part of last year’s playoff run with the Panthers and the Lightning both having great seasons and this year it is back with a slightly different outlook although the team falling behind still took the win

Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 Edmonton Oilers
– All of the focus was on the match-up between two generational players as Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby faced off but neither could actually find the back of the net although McDavid did earn three assists on the night with Crosby held off of the scoresheet

Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 St. Louis Blues (OT)
– It is a long-standing Central division rivalry and for good reason, as both teams are constantly fighting for the top spot including this time around as the surging Blackhawks took the win to move ahead of the Blues

Winnipeg Jets 3-2 Arizona Coyotes
– It is always interesting when the Jets face-off with the Coyotes as Arizona is the team that Winnipeg lost before the Jets returned and this latest version of the Jets got a little revenge this year taking a win against the Coyotes

Next Week:
Montreal Canadiens vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Sunday, November 13th; 7:00 pm ET)
– They are two of the best teams in the league right now as the Canadiens have continued from the start while the Blackhawks have put their struggles behind and now two of the best teams in the league face-off

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals (Wednesday, November 16th; 7:30 pm ET)
– It is still one of the best rivalries in the league as the Caps and Pens have followed the lead of their two stars into a great modern day rivalry with Crosby and Ovechkin facing off once again and plenty on the line in the Metropolitan Division

Florida Panthers vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (Thursday, November 17th; 7:30 pm ET)
– The Panthers and the Leafs are not performing the best right now but the two young teams will go after each other trying to get that momentum they need and hopefully start a run in their own division

Winnipeg Jets vs. Boston Bruins (Saturday, November 19th; 7:00 pm ET)
– Boston has been up and down all year and they hope to walk away from this game on an up but they have to face one of the best teams right now as the Jets have been playing well lately with Mark Scheifele leading the way

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