NHL Week in Review (February 12-18)

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The NHL has seen some interesting moves in the last few weeks and it has nothing to do with the impending trade deadline.

It had a lot more to do with the men behind the bench than the ones on the bench as two of the top coaches in the game lost their jobs.

It is not a new thing for a coach to be fired midway through the season as teams look to make moves as the season enters the second half.

They try to either find something that can turn their team around or just hoping to find a coach that can begin to make a change heading into the off-season.

Sometimes teams just need that change and it might not always be the coach’s fault but a change needs to be made and the coach is often the easiest person to replace.

Most of the time this is due to a team struggling through the first half of the game or struggling through inconsistency.

A change is what they need to make their run at the playoffs and sometimes it can work wonders for a team.

This year it has been a little different though as the two teams that made the most headlines with their coaching changes were not struggling teams.

They were two teams that were looking like they could make the playoffs this year despite a change behind the bench.

The Boston Bruins launched the first shot when they fired Claude Julien ending the longest tenure in the NHL.

The Bruins were not necessarily a team that needed a change though as they were right in the playoff hunt.

They were not necessarily the top team in the league and they had their hiccups throughout the season but a switch this drastic didn’t seem like it was needed.

Yet the Bruins still made the decision, likely because they were looking for more consistency heading into the playoffs.

They haven’t had the best showings in the playoffs recently and they were likely headed for a change if their latest playoff appearance ended early.

For them, to fire Julien, this early seemed strange as they were still one of the better teams in the league.

The only teams that had more people scratching their heads was the Montreal Canadiens who fired Michele Therrien this week.

Therrien had come in a few years ago in a massive shake-up by the Canadiens who had one of their worst seasons.

He did his job as the Canadiens have been one of the best teams in the league since Therrien took over behind the bench.

This year they were sitting in first place in their division with a convincing lead and a very good chance of making the playoffs for another year.

Whether they could manage a deep playoff run may have been the biggest question for them but for now, they seemed like they were on the right track.hockey-sidebar

Yet for the team, it wasn’t good enough as they fired Therrien in the middle of the season with many wondering what else he had to do to keep his job.

The firing might have had something to do with who was available rather than the job that Therrien was doing, though.

Montreal immediately announced that Julien would be taking over as the head coach.

It could have very well been that the Canadiens wanted Julien and didn’t want to wait for the off-season to sign him in case another team picked him up.

They likely believe that Julien can make a difference for them in the playoffs as the former Stanley Cup winner has done well in the playoffs while the Canadiens have struggled.

Either way, both of these firings were some of the strangest firings in recent memory as the Bruins and Canadiens are two teams playing pretty well.

The thought is that a team sitting in the middle of the division or near the bottom can change their coaching with little questions.

Two teams sitting in playoff spots with one looking like a clear playoff team are not the teams that seem like they need a change.

For these teams though the change is more about their culture in both franchises as they expect great things.

Both teams might be headed to the playoffs but they have for years and neither has been able to get very far.

These changes might be more about finding a new culture before the playoffs, a culture that can change their fate in the playoffs.

Only time will tell if these were good decisions as the playoffs approach and both teams will be watched closely to see if their new coaches can lead them deep into the playoffs.

(More on this week in hockey)

Detroit’s loss
Detroit sports suffered a major loss this week when Red Wings and Tigers owner Mike Ilitch passed away leaving a legacy of staying in a city that has struggled and supported the city as best he could

1,000 point Club
His greatest rival reached the mark slightly earlier but Sidney Crosby is still a member of the 1,000 point club and he did it in the seventh fewest amount of games after years lost to concussions

Trade Talk
The Colorado Avalanche are still the one team with more trade talk surrounding them than anyone else but they seem to be pricing themselves out of the market as they are apparently asking for a lot to get either Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog


Key Scores:
Boston Bruins 4-0 Montreal Canadiens
– One of the oldest rivalries in the game turned out to be a lopsided game as the Bruins easily got passed the Canadiens in a game that likely became a reason for the firing of Michele Therrien only days later

New York Rangers 3-2 Columbus Blue Jackets
– The Blue Jackets are starting to level out as the season closes but they are still looking at that playoff berth but they took a step back after losing to the Rangers who are fighting with the Jackets for a playoff spot

Toronto Maple Leafs 7-1 New York Islanders
– When these two teams faced off earlier in the season it was a lopsided win for the Islanders leaving the Leafs to try to figure a lot out but this time the roles were reversed even though the Islanders are playing their best hockey right now

New York Islanders 4-2 New York Rangers
– The battle of New York is becoming a very important series as the season begins to focus on the playoff hunt as both teams could fight to the end for a playoff spot making the Islanders win that much more valuable

Next Week:
Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers (Sunday, February 19; 12:30 pm ET)
– As the playoff race begins to heat up the rangers need to keep winning and they will need to beat teams like the Caps if they want to make progress while the Caps are looking to keep their spot on top of the division

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild (Tuesday, February 21st; 8:00 pm ET)
– It isn’t the battle for first that many thought would emerge but the Wild and the Blackhawks are both looking to take the top spot in the division this year making every game between the two that much more important

Edmonton Oilers vs. Washington Capitals (Friday, February 24th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Oilers are a serious playoff contender for the first time in years and they will once again test themselves against one of the top teams in the league against Washington who is looking to run away with the division

Montreal Canadiens vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (Saturday, February 25th; 7:00 pm ET)
– It is a big rivalry that has actually turned a little more interesting as the Leafs are a team on the bubble for the playoffs and need to keep winning while the Canadiens are just trying to avoid a massive fall this year and stay at the top of the division

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