NHL Week in Review (April 23-29)

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Playoff time is often named the second season because it can be considered an entirely separate part of the calendar.

After a full season of teams looking to make the best of their roster and players sacrificing to get wins everything resets and a new season begins.

This new season is not the same as the one that just passed because everything becomes more important.

Every mistake is magnified, every goal is more important, every shift could change the fate of an entire franchise.

Not only that but the mistakes made are hard to make up for because teams can enter the playoffs and only have four losses to play with.

Losing four games in any round is the end of the season and all of the preparation that went into trying to get to the Stanley Cup is lost.

The second season is also a different style of hockey as the rink seems to shrink with tighter checking and less room to move.

It is a tougher game in the playoffs and only those that can make the adjustment to that different style can survive and make it to the Stanley Cup.

A big factor in making those adjustments is the ability for some of the best players in the game to help their teams out.

In the playoffs, a team can only win when more than one player steps up to make a difference but those star players can be a massive factor in a Stanley Cup run.

Having a great team that is deep enough to score throughout the lineup is great but those superstars can be the final push that a team needs.

The problem with these players though is that the teams they are against know who the stars are and they plan to shut them down.

One of the best strategies for any team when taking on another team with a superstar is to do everything they can to shut them down.

It is essentially challenging the rest of the roster to beat them and a lot of teams have a problem when that top player gets shut down.

Although being a complete team can certainly help to move on the superstars also bear a sense of responsibility.

They are considered the best players in the game but only those that can continue to make an impact in this second season rise to another level.

Sidney Crosby has been one of those players who proves that he is the best player in the world year after year.

This year he has been one of the top scorers in the playoffs with 11 points total and has proven that the best in the league come through.

There is no doubt that ever team is looking to shut Crosby down and yet it has proven to be a difficult thing to achieve.hockey-sidebar

He also has help in the form of Evgeni Malkin who takes some of the pressure off as another top scorer in the game.

Crosby still comes through and performs at the level that everyone expects him too but it is not an easy thing for all players.

The evidence is in Edmonton where the heir apparent to Crosby has struggled throughout the playoffs.

As Edmonton has worked their way through the first round and into a commanding lead in the second round their young superstar has struggled to put up points.

He hasn’t been held without points putting up five so far but for a player considered to be one of the best in the world he is not having much of an impact.

The rest of the team is picking up the slack but that could get harder as the games move on and having one of their most important players falter will make it harder to gain the championship.

McDavid is not the only one as Vladimir Tarasenko has struggled throughout the playoffs, although the second round is proving to be different for him.

PK Subban was also mostly unheard of throughout the first round but has come alive in the second to be the difference maker that the Predators hoped he would be.

Others stars like Alexander Ovechkin and Erik Karlsson have all shown their experience and are having great playoffs.

All of these players are going to be essential for their teams to move through the second season and to that ultimate prize.

If they can come to lead their teams it will be an extra boost to groups that have already been through the first round.

That is always the challenge as the NHL is in the second season and that second season is a different type of hockey that rewards the grinders more than the skilled players.

Overtime

No Love in Ottawa

The Ottawa Senators are one of the two teams left to carry the Canadian flag into the second round of the playoffs. They are also a team surprising many as they have come out early to a 2-0 lead in the series having some people wondering just how good they could be this year. That excitement is not necessarily translating to Ottawa though as the team is struggling to sell out games despite the fact that they are in the playoffs. It is an embarrassment to many Canadian hockey fans who would love to see their team still in the playoffs.

Top Prospect Debate

As the season gets closer the worst teams in the league are finding a challenge in trying to determine the best players available in this year’s draft. It is not an extremely deep pool of talent this year and there is no top talent that seems like they will change the franchise for years to come. The names at the top seem to always be Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier but the debate between the two of them seems like it will go until the day of the draft.

Jumping Up

As the debate about the talent level of the draft continues the NHL marked an important date on their calendar as they held the annual Draft Lottery. The Colorado Avalanche came into the lottery with the best chance of taking home the top pick in this year’s draft followed by the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. The lottery did not turn out well for either as the Avs were dropped to fourth overall and the Knights to sixth while the New Jersey Devils won the lottery and will pick first overall.

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