NHL Week in Review (February 19-25)

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Every year on March 1 the NHL has one of the most exciting periods on the league calendar as the trade deadline marks a big event every season.

The trade deadline is one of those days when the entire hockey world turns their focus to the playoff race that is just getting underway.

The trade deadline is the day when teams finally determine whether they are buyers or sellers and in turn whether they will compete for the playoffs this year.

During the trade deadline, teams will either try to add the one piece that can make a difference or try to sell off some of their best players to get draft picks or players for the future.

By doing one or the other a team can tell everyone that they are ready to make one last push or they are giving up and focusing on next year.

There are plenty of teams that will sit on both sides of that equations as certain teams are clearly headed for playoff runs while others have little chance of making the playoffs this year.

Those teams have been labelled as sellers or buyers already and many have already been calling or hearing calls for some big names.

This year there seems to be something different with the entire process of the trade deadline heading into the big day.

There are a couple of aspects to this year’s trade deadline that are making things a little different and possibly a little less exciting.

One is the fact that a lot of teams looking to sell some of their top players are asking for a lot to get rid of those players.

That makes things difficult for teams looking to add that one piece as they don’t have a lot to give without making their team worse or staying the same.

Trading becomes a lot more difficult when the price is too high for a player and usually that player goes nowhere.

This year the reports are that the Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues are asking for a lot for two players at the top of the trade market.

Both Matt Duchene and Kevin Shattenkirk have been considered two of the top targets for the last month but according to a lot of people, they are simply asking for too much.

For teams buying they can’t offer what the other teams want and for the teams selling they aren’t going to get rid of those players.

In some cases that might be the exact point especially in St. Louis where they are still in the hunt for the playoffs and might not want to get rid of Shattenkirk even if he might leave in the off-season.

The high prices for players are not the only reason for the trade deadline to possibly have a little less action this time around.

There is also the issue of more teams actually having a shot at the playoffs this year much like last year.hockey-sidebar

At this point in the season, there is often a pretty clear division between playoff teams and everyone else.

The last few years there have been more teams in the hunt than usual which makes trade deadline tougher.

With more teams in the hunt for a spot, it becomes a little harder to determine who is truly a seller and who is a buyer.

More teams are unwilling to give up any of their talent because they still have a chance to make a run at the end of the season.

They aren’t going to deal their best talent when there is still a chance that they can make a run at the Stanley Cup.

That leaves them hanging on to players and the playoff teams without any options to get better.

It also leads to a boring trade deadline day as teams are unwilling to pull the trigger leading to the lack of big names being traded.

It makes for a trade centre with less action and fewer names but it also makes for a playoff race that is more interesting.

Teams will find it harder to load up with talent and make a run leaving them with the teams they have.

Some might be able to add a few key pieces but not many, if any at all, will be able to load up and take over the league.

It could make things a lot more interesting as the playoffs approach with more teams getting involved and more teams having a legitimate chance at the Cup.

It isn’t impossible to think that the deadline day will have plenty of moves and a number of big names but with the offers that were out there already, it seems like the sellers aren’t willing to let go of their players.

Someone could make a bad deal or there may be few deals at all as the trade deadline approaches and the playoffs get that much closer.

As the playoffs get closer the pressure to compete gets bigger and decisions are made based on that pressure which will be seen in the coming week.

Overtime
(More on this week in hockey)

The New Rivalry
A rivalry between Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin re-ignited hockey in Pittsburgh and Washington and history seems to be repeating itself as Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine have re-ignited hockey in Winnipeg and Toronto with their own rivalry

Canucks Going Down
The Vancouver Canucks are paying for a new spread of the mumps virus in Canada as one player has been confirmed with the infection while a number of others are showing symptoms taking out players at an important time

Playoff Race
The playoff race is heating up and for a number of teams it is a chance for them to finally find their way to the playoffs as Edmonton and Toronto are two teams with long droughts that could come to an end this year

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Key Scores:
New York Rangers 2-1 Washington Capitals
– The Caps are sitting on top of the division and seem like they are headed for the division crown but the Rangers are still battling including this win which helped the Rangers climbing closer to their division lead

Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 Winnipeg Jets (OT)
– When two of the top young talents get on the same ice people start to watch and they are watching more than ever in Toronto and Winnipeg with the Laine and Matthews facing off for the second time and Matthews getting the win

Washington Capitals 2-1 Edmonton Oilers
– Everyone is expecting the Oilers to fall apart and fall out of the playoff race but they are still hanging in there and although they took this loss that showed they might still be behind the top teams they are looking like a contender

Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 Philadelphia Flyers
– The NHL went outdoors for one last time this year as the Penguins celebrated their 50th anniversary by hosting their in-state rivals at Heinz Field and celebrated well with a win that continued their time near the top of the division

Next Week:
St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Sunday, February 26th; 7:30 pm ET)
– Heading into the trade deadline the Blues have a big decision to make and this game against their biggest rivals might help them make that decision as they will try to stay in the hunt against the Blackhawks

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. San Jose Sharks (Tuesday, February 28th; 10:30 pm ET)
– It has been a long time since Toronto has actually been in the hunt this late in the season but they will be looking to find their way into the playoffs and as they do every win is important even one against a tough team like the Sharks

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Wednesday, March 1st; 8:00 pm ET)
– Two of the best teams in the league will face off again as both teams seem sure bets to make the playoffs and they are looking to gain momentum through the last few months so that they can meet again in the finals

Detroit Red Wings vs. Edmonton Oilers (Saturday, March 4th; 10:00 pm ET)
– One team is on the verge of ending a long-standing playoff run while the other is on the verge of ending a long playoff drought as the old guard meets the new in this match-up with the Oilers having plenty to play for this year

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