NHL Week in Review (April 9-15)
There has been an interesting pattern in the NHL playoffs so far and it has given an answer to one of the biggest questions heading into the playoffs.
This year there was a common difference among a lot of the teams in the first round as the youth movement for a number of teams was taking on teams loaded with experienced veterans.
Teams like Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton all rode their young stars into the playoffs and many of them were getting their first taste of NHL playoff hockey.
That was going to make things tough when they took on Washington, Anaheim and San Jose who have been a part of the playoffs for the better part of this past decade.
It was going to be an interesting year as these young players were not only just another set of great players but players that had made a significant impact on the season.
Players like Matthew Tkachuk, Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid are leading a new generation of stars and their first steps towards that came this year.
All three made a big difference for their teams and helped them make the playoffs in what the franchises hope is just the start of a new era.
So with the level of play from these young players could it be possible that the youth movement wins out in a part of the season where experience has always been key.
For years teams have used the trade deadline to add players that are considered rentals as they don’t expect to be around much further than the end of the season.
These players are taken by teams headed to the playoffs and they are usually players that have experience in the playoffs.
The idea for the contending teams is that they can get some extra help from an experienced player while they head to the playoffs.
It is a common theory for a lot of teams that they need that experience to deal with the pressure and the type of play that comes in the playoffs.
This year was going to truly test that theory as these young teams may have added a few veterans with playoff experience but the young stars really drove these teams to the playoffs.
They were going to be the reason why any of these teams moved on past the first round of the playoffs.
The first games of the first round showcased the difference between these teams though as much of the same happened to every team leaning on their young stars.
In Edmonton, the Oilers host the Sharks in the first game and they came out to an early lead surprising many against the defending Western Conference champions.
That lead began to go away as the game went on though and eventually the Sharks tied things up and headed to overtime where they put the game away to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
The next day the Maple Leafs travelled to Washington and got on top of the President’s Trophy winners early in the game.
They kept the lead throughout the second period but then things started to turn and once again the experienced team won the game in overtime.
In Anaheim, the story continued as Calgary came out to an early lead only to take a loss and continuing their losing streak in Anaheim.
The young teams came out strong and they impressed everyone with their energy to start the games.
Then the veteran teams came back and took the wins in games that were closer than many thought they were going to be.
The results fit perfectly into the teams that were playing though as the young teams came out to a quick start with a lot of energy.
That energy brought them to the early leads but it was that veteran experience that kept the others teams from panicking.
Any type of panic that sets in throughout a game can make a difference but in the playoffs that panic can end a season really fast.
Veterans know that there is plenty of game to be played and they don’t panic in the face of adversity because they have been through it before.
These players stayed calm and came back to take the win showing that experience can win out in the end.
The second games in these series went a little different though as the young teams did find a way back into the series.
Not all could do it as the Calgary Flames lost their second in a row to Anaheim in another close game that the young team couldn’t finish.
The Oilers and the Leafs had different results though as they both took wins to even up the series and make things even more interesting.
If the first games were the experience that they needed these series might only get better as the young guns could prove that veterans aren’t necessarily the only way to win in the playoffs.
Coaching in the Desert
The Vegas Golden Knight continue to build their team announcing their first head coach and continuing their run towards the first season. Gerrard Gallant has been named their first head coach as he looks to make this expansion team into a contender as quickly as possible after being fired from the Florida Panthers this past season.
Changes in La La Land
The Los Angeles Kings were not happy with how things have been going the last few years and they are going in a new direction. They fired GM Dean Lombardi and head coach Darryl Sutter to try to turn things around. They moved Kings’ legend Rob Blake to the GM role and seem to be ready to hire John Stevens as their next head coach.
The Colorado Avalanche are focusing on the draft as they are the worst team in the league and have the best chance at the top pick in the NHL Draft. They are looking to another draft too as they have decided to protect Semyon Varlamov in the upcoming expansion draft leaving some of their younger goalies free for Vegas to take.