NHL Week in Review (March 11-17)

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As the season in the NHL winds down it is time for many of the players in the league to begin inching closer to some pretty significant milestones.

The end of any season manes some of the best players in the world are moving through the rankings in the all-time list.

By this time they are usually closing in on something unless they have had a terrible year and this week there were a few who accomplished those milestones.

Marc-Andre Fleury was able to move up the all-time list when he earned his 400th career win putting him in the top 13 of all-time.

Ahead of him are only legends of the sport as he continues to climb up the rankings with his new life in Las Vegas.

Although he won’t reach it this year, he would need another 8 wins to climb into the top ten all-time to pass Glenn Hall before the bigger numbers come at the top.

Alex Ovechkin reached his own milestone this week as well with his 600th career goal, moving him within striking distance of some of the biggest names in the history of the league.

With ten more he will catch Bobby Hull and another 40-goal season will put him in the top fifteen goal scorers in the league.

He continues to be one of the greatest goal scorers of all time and will surely add to his totals in the years to come.

It brings to mind an interesting comparison that began when Ovechkin entered the league and it is the comparison between him and Sidney Crosby.

When both players were getting ready to start their time in the NHL it was a legitimate debate about who was the better player.

People wondered who would end up being better and where they could go in their NHL careers.

As the years went on the debate went away as Crosby took over as being the best player in the world.

Ovechkin may not have a Cup or may not bring the same depth of skills to the game but there is little doubt that he has been the best goal-scorer out of the two.

He is currently the best goal scorer playing right now and after earning 600 goals he is likely to continue to move up and become one of the best of all time.

The debate will always be solved in the opinions of some but the injuries suffered by Crosby has slowed his pace and Ovechkin has surpassed him in goals as well as total points.

Both are still young and have time to build their stats to become special players in this era and in any era.

That type of debate will never end though as there is a new one going on and one of the members of that debate put his stamp on a very young career.

Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine are all players that came into the league around the same time with a lot of expectations.

For McDavid, the expectations are to become the greatest player to ever play in the NHL as he is the player many thought might be able to touch the records that seemed untouchable.

As he came into the league there were two other young players coming in right behind him that had a lot of hype around them.hockey-sidebar

There was the American Matthews who spent time playing in Switzerland and was expected to be great.

He was built as maybe not the best ever but a player that could save a franchise which he got the chance to do when he was drafted by Toronto.

Laine was built as the second coming of Ovechkin as a player that might not be as good everywhere but a player with a scoring touch that could match the best.

Among all three of these players is a lot of talent but their future is a complete unknown as they will consistently be linked together.

They will always compete to be the best as they are the leaders of a new generation and like in any sport people will want to know who is the best.

McDavid took his shot at the title last year when he won the Hart Trophy in only his second season in the NHL.

It is one in what is expected to be a lot more awards for the young Canadian but playing on a team that consistently underperforms could hurt him.

Although Auston Matthews has yet to win any awards he is in the biggest hockey market in the world and helping the Leafs to success and potentially breaking the Cup drought will put him among the legends of the game.

Laine took his shot this week as he got an assist that put his point streak at 14 games breaking the record for the longest point streak by a teenager.

That type of production has put him even closer to the others if not above them in the competition to be the best of a generation.



Releasing the Ballots

There has been some talk about the fact that when the writers vote for the annual awards nobody ever knows how they voted. Often there is some controversy and yet nowhere to know who voted for what. That will change this June though as the writers association voted to release the ballots for the major NHL awards as well as the NHL All-Star and All-Rookie teams. This will give more transparency in these votes and will put more responsibility on the voters as they will be exposed for who they vote for every year.

Return of Kovalchuk

After the Olympics, there was a lot of talk around some of the teams that were using former NHL players. The talk was about whether or not these players would use their time in the Olympics to attempt to get back into the NHL. Most knew that the majority of these players wouldn’t be back but for some of the Russians playing it was a goal not just a possibility. Ilya Kovalchuk is one of those players as he is aiming to return and sign with a team this summer in order to get back to the league.

Coaching Stability

It has been a strangely stable year behind the bench in the NHL as the season is about to b over and every coach in the league was the coach at the start of the year. That is a rare site in the league as there is always a struggling team that wants a change midway through the season. This has not been the case this year as the coaches are all staying in place and with only a few weeks left changes aren’t very likely before the end of the season. It is a rare time of stability but that won’t mean that changes will not happen after the year ends.

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