NHL Week in Review (January 22-28)

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It is All-Star Weekend in the NHL and the debate is beginning for another year as it does every single year in every league.

The All-Star game is an interesting piece of professional leagues as they are meant to be a showcase of the best of the league every year.

It is also meant to be a bit of a reward for the players as they are named the best players in the league for the year.

When players retire there are often seen as a better player based on how many times they were named an All-Star.

When putting the best of the best in the same game everything should be great as logically if the best players are all on the same playing field great things should happen.

It has never been that way though as the all-star games in every league turn out to be some of the most boring games every year.

There is an overall lack of trying in these games as no player actually plays up to their potential.

For most of them, there isn’t anything to really play for because nobody remembers how well a player plays in an all-star game.

In every league, the organisations struggle to find a way to highlight this game and make it a major event in the season.

In the NFL the league brought back and updated their skills competition, usually the most popular part of the all-star festivities, and changed to the conference teams once again.

The MLB’s all-star attempted to bring some meaning to the game is now a thing of the past as the winner of the game no longer gets home-field advantage in the World Series.

For the NHL’s game, there have been many attempts to bring some type of excitement to the game and the weekend.

The Skills Competition remains the most popular part and little adjustment has been done although the breakaway challenge has been removed this year and replaced with a celebrity breakaway challenge, a product of the game going to L.A.

For the game, it has been a different story though as the league went from a conference against conference games for years to an updated version that included legends and a draft.

That draft idea lasted a few years and brought some excitement but last year the league made a change again.

This time they made a much bigger change in the entire organisation of the game splitting it into three games over a few hours.

Instead of fielding two teams of players with lines of five players that run through a regular game, they switched to putting together a three-on-three tournament with a team from each division.hockey-sidebar

The new system was meant to provide those best players with some extra room to do what they do best and put on a show for the fans.

The first time around the new system was an interesting one as the end results were not necessarily what most expected.

It was closer to real hockey with defence actually taking hold in a game that was meant to be a nightmare for the goaltenders.

Heading through it all the new system brought more interest to the game but a part of that was ultimately due to the fact that there was a bigger story attached to the all-star weekend.

That being the inclusion of John Scott who truly had little business being there but was voted in by the fans and went through a bit of a fight with the NHL to eventually get there and become a cult hero.

This time around that story didn’t exist and so the all-star weekend was left as the same weekend it has been for years.

A break at the midway point of the season where people will watch as long as there is nothing else to do or nothing else on.

That is the nature of all-star games and all-star festivities as there has yet to be a league in professional sports that has figured out what they can do.

These games have the best intentions in rewarding the best players and also a motivation from a business standpoint as every league is trying to come up with different ways to make this something to watch.

None have accomplished that yet and aside from being a break for the players at the midway point and simply awarded great seasons, there isn’t much to watch.

Until someone finds a way to make this successful for more than just one year there will be constant changes as the NHL continues to try to grow their sport with bigger and better events.

Overtime
(More on this week in hockey)

A Great Fill-in
After a family situation forced John Tortorella out of coaching the all-star game the Metropolitan Division got some great help behind the bench as Wayne Gretzky was named as their head coach for the all-star tournament

Honouring the Best
As a part of the all-star festivities, the NHL decided to honour the greatest players ever in celebration of their 100th anniversary naming the rest of their top 100 players to add to the players named at the Centennial Classic earlier this year

Change at the Top
The Ottawa Senators are making changes as they hired a new president going with former Leafs president Tom Anselmi who may not do much in terms of the product on the ice but is a businessman who will help in the growth of the franchise

Earning His Spot
It wasn’t the way that he wanted to earn a spot but Corey Atkinson was named to the all-star game when Evgeni Malkin announced that he would not be attended but in the end, it righted a wrong that many saw as Atkinson has certainly earned his spot

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Key Scores:
Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 Boston Bruins
– The Pens continue to be a team to watch as they easily got by the Bruins who continued to struggle heading into the halfway point as their latest issues have many wondering if their coach will last all year

New York Rangers 3-2 Los Angeles Kings
– The Rangers are in the midst of one of the best battles of the season as the Metropolitan division is turning out to be a tough one and they got some boost against a team that is struggling so far this year

St. Louis Blues 3-0 Pittsburgh Penguins
– In the Central, the Blues are sinking behind some great runs by a number of teams and they looked to stop that slide against a very good team in the Penguins as both teams look to keep going in the two toughest divisions

Edmonton Oilers 4-0 Anaheim Ducks
– Edmonton has had a great season but the new year brought a bit of a dip in their production although they continue to fight for that division crown as they beat the Ducks easily in this one to close out their first half on a high

Next Week:
NHL All-Star Tournament (Sunday, January 29th; 4:00 pm ET)
– The second year of the new system pits great players from each team against each other with $1-million on the line as the three-on-three tournament hopes to provide a little more offence this time around

Minnesota Wild vs. Edmonton Oilers (Tuesday, January 31st; 9:00 pm ET)
– A year ago this match-up would have been pretty forgettable but this year it is all different as the Oilers and the Wild are two teams with a good shot at the playoffs and at making a run and they will face-off hoping to get closer to a spot

Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (Friday, February 3rd; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Blue Jackets are getting the attention of everyone after their great streak to end 2016 and now they are in a spot where the playoffs are a possibility but they will need to beat teams like the Penguins to get there

Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens (Saturday, February 4th; 1:00 pm ET)
– Montreal is not the most steady of teams right now but they are running away with the Atlantic and they hope to continue but to be better they need to start beating teams like the Capitals who are in a fight in the Metropolitan

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