NHL Week in Review (December 18-24)

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As the NHL enters its Christmas break there is really only one story on everyone’s minds and that is the agelessness of Jaromir Jagr.

The NHL is in the midst of what every other sport is going through as the youth invasion is only increasing every year.

Looking at the scoring races alone will tell you how important the young stars are for teams in the new era of the NHL.

As teams continue to go after these young stars there is still some value in having those veterans who have been through some things on the team.

They may not be keeping up with the scoring prowess of the young players but that doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable to every team.

In Florida, that has been proven time and time again as they were one of the man teams who threw together young teams without much results.

Then came the veterans as Roberto Luongo and Jaromir Jagr joined the team and the Panthers became a team to watch.

They surprised everyone last year during their run to the playoffs and the two veterans were the unquestionable leaders during that time.

Out of the two big veterans on the team though there is nobody with as much experience as Jaromir Jagr.

That could be said for the entire team as well with nobody having put in more time than Jagr.

There is no player that has been around as long as him and in this era that is something special as he has fended off father time to continue to produce.

At age 44 he remains one of the top players in the league and this week he asserted his spot in the Hall of Fame, although it was likely already a sure-thing.

That was because this week he put himself into the second spot on the all-time scoring list with 1,888 points in his long career.

A lot of players took less time to get there but the fact is he still puts up points even as the oldest player in the league.

That 1,888th point moved him past Mark Messier on the all-time list and directly behind the greatest player ever, Wayne Gretzky.

He will never catch Gretzky who has a total of 2,857 points in his career unless he plays maybe averages 100 points a year for the next ten years making him 54 years old.

Obviously, that won’t happen but being just behind Gretzky is an accomplishment all in itself and to do past the age of forty makes it even greater.

There is a saying in all sports that “Father Time is Undefeated” because eventually time catches up to every athlete.hockey-sidebar

They are all amazing specimens but all have a much shorter career than the average worker.

Usually, that time is around the 40-year mark because the body that has taken punishment for so long playing a sport eventually it breaks down.

No matter how well someone takes care of their body at 40 it tends to break down and although players can slow it they can never stop it.

That is what makes Jagr such a hero among many NHL fans as he seems to be fending off that ageing process better than anyone.

He is certainly not the player he was when he broke into the league with Washington but he has converted from the quick superstar to the wily veteran.

He finds his way to the proper spots and continues to put up points to help the Panthers every year he comes back.

Nobody knows how long he will continue to play as every year it seems like the big debate is whether or not he comes back.

There is little left for him to accomplish as he has reached as far as he will likely reach now that he is second on the all-time list.

Still, he wants that Stanley Cup again and he will try to help the Panthers to that goal as the leader on the team.

He is a unique part of the league as there are not many players that can last as long as he lasts without having the issues that come with age.

It is also rare for someone to continue to produce enough to be worth a roster spot at that age.

In this era of young players though he is proving that veterans still have their place and with a better understanding of how to take care of their bodies he might be a blueprint for other players.

He is good enough to this though and his spot on the greatest scorers of all-time shows that and his time in the league past 40 might be something that we never see again.

(More on this week in hockey)

Florida Changes
Generally, the sports world likes everyone to stay out of politics as much as possible but politics came for the Florida Panthers this week when Florida owner Vinnie Viola was named Secretary of the Army by president-elect Donald Trump

Scoring Races Heating Up
The young guns continue to take over as Connor McDavid is leading the scoring race fending off all challengers while in the rookie race Patrik Laine continues to build his lead over the Leafs handful of rookies

Recovering Well
In November minor league player Craig Cunningham dropped on the ice in the middle of a game after suffering a heart attack but now he seems to be recovering well even if his NHL career seems over


Key Scores:
Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 San Jose Sharks
– The Blackhawks continue to put up points in their attempt to take over the Central this year and beating the Sharks was a good way to do that as they took out one of the best teams in the league to prove they are for real

Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 Los Angeles Kings (SO)
– The winning just continues for the Jackets as they are on an amazing run right now and they proved that they can take on top teams including the Kings who they just got by thanks to a shootout to continue their hot streak

Winnipeg Jets 4-1 Vancouver Canucks
– It wasn’t long ago that both of these teams seemed like they could make an impact this year but lately, they have started to fall off although the Jets were able to get the win as they hope to start coming back in the Central

Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 Arizona Coyotes
– It wasn’t necessarily the biggest game for the standings but Toronto rookie Auston Matthews got to go home for the first time as an NHL player playing his home team and helping his team to a win

Next Week:
San Jose Sharks vs. Anaheim Ducks (Tuesday, December 27th; 10:00 pm ET)
– The league gets back to action after the Christmas break with a full slate of games including this California match-up as the Sharks hope to continue their time on top of the Pacific with the Ducks hoping to knock them off

Montreal Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (Wednesday, December 28th; 7:30 pm ET)
– The Lighting are not having the season that everyone expected they were going to have while the Canadiens continue their time on top of the division as the Lightning try to knock them off and start a run

Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues (Friday, December 30th; 8:00 pm ET)
– The Blues continue to fight it out for the top spot in the central while the Predators hope to shake off a slow start to their season as the year comes to a close hoping to end 2016 on a high note

Florida Panthers vs. Dallas Stars (Saturday, December 31st; 8:00 pm ET)
– Both teams were expected to be better than they have shown so far but there is plenty of time left as they hope to turn things around against each other and start to move back up the rankings

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