NHL Week in Review (January 1-7)

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With the halfway point approaching of the season, there are more races than just those in the standings.

The scoring races are also heating up and it is an interesting battle at the top that many were predicting would come a little later.

That is because the scoring race for the leader in the league involves two players that have had so much put on their shoulders.

Sidney Crosby was labelled the best player since Wayne Gretzky when he was a teenager with many believing he might be able to challenge Gretzky as the greatest ever.

Since entering the league he has proven to be the player that many thought he could be as he is widely considered the best player in the game right now.

Injuries have put a hold on his attempt to challenge Gretzky and “The Great One’s” records he is still the best player in the game when he is on the ice.

He isn’t the only player that has gained the comparisons to the greatest to ever play the game though as another teenage sensation was seen as the next one before he entered the league.

Conor McDavid was the nest hope to challenge the records and the title of the best ever after running through minor hockey.

Much like Crosby, McDavid has been considered the best young player in the game and after a rough first year where he missed a big chunk of games due to an injury he is starting to hit his stride.

It isn’t often that two players of this calibre are in the league at the same time and are playing against each other when both of them are so good.

More often than not when the next great player comes in the last great player is on his way out and there is no real way to compare the two.

There is going to be a time that is starting right now where two of the best players in the game are playing at the same level.

For McDavid, it is all about his pure talent that is showing the potential for when he begins to learn the NHL game even more throughout the years.

For Crosby, it is a time where he is at his athletic peak and he is showing just how good his veteran knowledge can be to go along with his pure talent.

Both players are playing at such a high level right now that it is a rare time when two of the best are actually competing to be the best.hockey-sidebar

McDavid came out to an early lead in the scoring race and he continues to hold that lead but Crosby seems to be just getting things going now and he is closing the gap.

With McDavid on top Crosby sits third behind teammate Evgeni Malkin and all three are sure to fight it out down the stretch.

This is the time where the difference will be made as McDavid has never played a full NHL season and this second half will be the test.

Will he be able to keep up his performance throughout the second half of the season?

Only time will tell but if he can’t Crosby is right there to take over that lead as he knows what a full season is like and he has handled it for years.

What is the takeaway from this battle, though, is the fact that this era is something that has never been seen before.

There have always been great players playing at the same time and debates between who was the best.

Those debates always centre around the best of an era though as there is really only three players that have ever been considered in the running for the best ever.

Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, and Gretzky are the players in that conversation and more often than not Gretzky wins the debate for the fact that he holds ever major individual record and some may never be touched, his 215 points in one season has only been challenged by himself.

Right now though the league is in a time where two players that could go down as some of the best players ever are playing at their best at the same time.

These two players might be part of the debate about the greatest player to ever step on the ice in an NHL game and they are able to be compared side by side.

Nobody knows where their careers are going to go and how long they will play or if they can continue producing at this level.

That makes everything so much better right now as fans get to enjoy a scoring race between two potential greats playing their best.

(More on this week in hockey)
Title for Americans
The World Juniors are officially over and the Americans are the champions for the year as they took on the Canadians in a great gold medal game that went to a shootout before a winner was found

All-Star Captains
The all-Star captains for the four divisions have officially been named as Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, Carey Price and PK Subban have all been voted as the captains in their division as the league prepares for the game in Los Angeles

Scary Moment in Winnipeg
The Winnipeg Jets have been depending on their rookie sensation for the majority of their offence as Patrik Laine has been a difference maker but he left their Saturday game early after a big hit leaving some concerned


Key Scores:
Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 Detroit Red Wings (OT)
– Toronto hosted their first outdoor game ever as the league and the team celebrated 100 years with the Centennial Classic and it was a game that lived up to the billing with the Leafs coming out early only to see the Red Wings come back before the Leafs took it in overtime

St. Louis Blues 4-1 Chicago Blackhawks
– After the celebration of the 100th, the Blues hosted the Winter Classic against their longtime rivals and they easily got by the Blackhawks in front of a huge crowd at Busch Stadium as they continued to try to climb into first in the Central

Edmonton Oilers 4-3 Boston Bruins
– The Oilers continue to be one of the best teams in the league and they were looking to show everyone that including the fans in the east as they took on the Bruins and took the win beating another top team

Montreal Canadiens 5-3 Toronto Maple Leafs
– It is one of the oldest rivalries in the game but it has been very one-sided in recent years and it continued to be as the Canadiens beat the Leafs for the 13th straight game as Toronto has been cooled off after a good few games

Next Week:
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (Sunday, January 8th; 5:00 pm ET)
– Both teams have had their history fighting in the playoffs but they are on different paths right now as the Penguins look to take a win against the Lightning and stay on top while Tampa looks to start a turnaround against a top team

San Jose Sharks vs. Edmonton Oilers (Tuesday, January 10th; 9:00 pm ET)
– Edmonton has fallen off recently after rising to the top of the division and now they look to get back to that as they take on the Sharks who have risen to the top of the Pacific as the Oilers try to climb back

Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (Wednesday, January 11th; 8:00 pm ET)
– It is one of the best rivalries in this era of hockey and it centres around Crosby and Ovechkin as both will once again face each other with both looking to stay among the top teams in the division as the battle continues to heat up

Calgary Flames vs. Edmonton Oilers (Saturday, January 14th; 10:00 pm ET)
– The Battle of Alberta takes centre stage on Saturday as both teams are full of young talent although the Oilers are getting the better out of theirs this year but both are headed for a clash for positioning in the division

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