NHL Week in Review (March 26- April 1)

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Last year at this time the NHL saw something strange and the biggest fan base in the league was reeling.

Every Canadian team in the NHL was left out of the playoffs for the first time since 1970 leaving Canadian fans wondering what had happened.

It was a shot to the league but the executives in the offices it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as they have always wanted to grow the game south of the border.

They had a better shot as the playoff featured all American teams giving more markets the chance to play in the most exciting time of the year.

It brought more eyes to the playoffs and the league saw a difference as there was plenty more talk surrounding the playoffs throughout the USA.

It was a boost for them but the largest market in the league was all of a sudden less interested in the best part of the season.

It didn’t mean that Canada was without playoff hockey as many fans still watched but the interest was far less.

It also led to a major question among analysts in the NHL about what was wrong with the state of hockey throughout Canada.

It was one of the worst periods of professional hockey in the country that invented the sport and loves it like no other place in the world.

All of a sudden all of the teams in the biggest market in the world weren’t good enough to play at the most exciting time.

There was a bit of a panic when it came to the thought of what the league was like in Canada but for some the panic was unwarranted.

The teams throughout the country were not playing up to par but almost all of them seemed to have a very bright future ahead of them.

The two veteran teams among them were experiencing some issues but it wasn’t expected that they were going to stay there.

Every other team had a group of young stars that could make a difference and although they were sitting at the bottom of the league that meant more young talent was on the way.

Edmonton and Calgary had already spent years at the bottom of the league but were putting together young talent that was soon ready to compete with the best of them.

Winnipeg and Toronto had sunk to the bottom of the league but that only meant top draft picks in a draft that had some amazing talent available.

There were claims that the Canadian teams might be seeing an extended period of missing the playoffs but the promise was there for the future.

This year that promise has paid off as all but two Canadian markets will see playoff hockey this year and a lot of it has to do with the young talent throughout the country.

The Canadiens might be the only exception as they remain more of a veteran team but they recovered from an off year.

They clinched another playoff spot this year as they look once again to Carey Price as the clear leader as well as a new coach to try and change the outcome from the last few years they made the playoffs.

In Alberta, the rivalry is on as both Edmonton and Calgary have found their way to the postseason thanks to youth movements.hockey-sidebar

The Flames started theirs a few years ago but are now a team with a lot of depth albeit young depth.

In Edmonton, the Oilers are finally reaping the rewards for being a bad team for a very long time.

That is largely due to the addition of Connor McDavid, the best young player in hockey, who has helped elevate their game to a new level.

In Toronto, the building process has not been nearly as long although they are still a team with the longest Stanley Cup drought.

They were the winners of the lottery a year ago and that gave them the chance to choose Auston Matthews first overall.

Matthews has been a massive difference maker for the Leafs but the fact that the Leafs were willing to call up other young stars like Mitch Marner has propelled them into playoff contention.

Their Ontario rivals could join them in the playoffs as Ottawa looks to find their way back as one of the more quiet teams in the league.

Both Ottawa and Toronto have yet to make the playoffs as they continue to fight for their spots while the others are preparing for their playoff run after clinching.

Canada could see five teams make the playoffs this year only one season removed from none of them making the playoffs.

If Ottawa and Toronto can clinch it will be a god year for professional hockey in Canada with the playoffs coming and interest rising.

Overtime
(More on this week in hockey)

USA Hockey Bends
Just days before USA Hockey hosted the Women’s World Championship they finally came to a deal with their women’s team to give them more support ending the protest by the American women about the support they get for playing for their country

Elias Calls it Quits
Patrik Elias was one of the last few players who was a part of the good days in New Jersey and now he is walking away from the game as the Devils great announced his retirement this week

Expansion Lists Public
A month ago the NHL management decided that they would not allow the expansion draft protection lists to go public but they have changed their minds leaving media outlets rejoicing for the amount of debate it will provide

Scary Moment in Philly
On Saturday night in Philadelphia, there was a strange and scary incident as Michal Neuvirth fell to the ice without anyone around him collapsing in the middle of the game, although he was reported to be fine after going to the hospital

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Key Scores:
Philadelphia Flyers 6-2 Pittsburgh Penguins
– The battle of Pennsylvania had some meaning to it as the Flyers got the win and tried to stay in the hunt as best they could while the Penguins took the loss as they try to take some momentum into the playoffs

Tampa Bay Lightning 5-4 Chicago Blackhawks
– The Lightning needed this win as they continue to look to the wild card to try to get a playoff spot as they took on the Blackhawks who took a loss but still continued their climb to the top of the conference

Edmonton Oilers 3-2 San Jose Sharks
– Edmonton will see the playoffs again for the first time in a long time and games like this have people excited as the Sharks are one of the better teams in the league but the Oilers took them out

Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 Detroit Red Wings
– Toronto is still fighting for a playoff spot as their playoff hopes remain in the balance but their win against the Red Wings was a boost to their attempts to trying to clinch a spot as they moved up in the division standings with the points

Next Week:
Boston Bruins vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Sunday, April 2nd; 12:30 pm ET)
– Boston is in a tough fight for the playoffs as they are falling up and down through the last weeks and they need a win to try to secure their spot but a game against the Western Conference champions is not going to be easy

Washington Capitals vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (Tuesday, April 4th; 7:30 pm ET)
– Toronto is still waiting to celebrate as they fight for a postseason spot and any game could get them their spot as they take on the Capitals who are one of the top teams in the league and won’t make it easy on them

Calgary Flames vs. Los Angeles Kings (Thursday, April 6th; 10:30 pm ET)
– The Kings are hoping that they are still a part of the playoff race at this point in time as they are the only ones left trying to gain a spot and they will need a win against the Flames to try to get their spot

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (Saturday, April 8th; 7:00 pm ET)
– By this time both teams could be preparing for the playoffs but that doesn’t mean this game isn’t important as they need the win to try to take some momentum into the playoffs to make a deep run through the playoffs

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