NHL Week in Review (April 8-14)

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The playoffs are here and the intensity is already on high in most of the series as the games are getting so much more important.

Each game makes things tighter as teams start to see the end of the series coming and possibly the end of their season.

As that progresses the teams get to know each other a lot better than they have throughout the regular season.

Teams have already played against each other throughout the season and have created a history against each other through the season.

This is a different level of familiarity though as these teams are around each other a lot throughout their four-game series.

There is no break as anything done in one game won’t be forgotten when both teams get back on the ice only a couple days later.

Every player knows that one mistake can change the face of the series and that brings a lot of pressure to anyone who steps on the ice.

Often that pressure leads to some bad choices by players and in the playoffs, there is nowhere to hide when that bad choice is made.

It seems like the NHL playoffs are always a place where suspensions are handed out rather quickly and they are certainly talked about a lot more.

Those have everything to do with the fact that this is the most important time of the year and only a few teams are playing.

It is a lot easier to make decisions on suspensions quickly when there are only a few games played every night.

Those decisions are made very quickly because punishment needs to be handed out before the next game begins.

So far the decisions have been quick and players have been punished for the questionable decisions that were made.

The Los Angeles Kings lost their star defenceman in Drew Doughty after a hit to the head cost him a single game.

In Toronto, it was Nazem Kadri who took a suspension after a bad hit against the boards that put Tommy Wingels out of the game.hockey-sidebar

Kadri got three games for the hit but it was far from his only iffy play in the game as the pressure seemed to get to him more than anyone.

Kadri is the pest for the Leafs and like most pests, he plays with a lot of emotion in every game.

That can be his biggest advantage as that passion and that type of play can get to the other team and can put them off of their game.

When that emotion that they use takes a turn for the worse they get suspended for doing something illegal.

Kadri saw that in the first game of the series against Boston as frustration began to build up and Kadri made a questionable decision.

The problem with that is the Leafs were forced to play without Kadri for three games in a series that could only last four.

Although he might not be the most important player on the team he is a key part of the team and losing him for possibly the entire series is not going to be great.

That is the type of issue that often arise in the playoffs because everything becomes so much more important.

There aren’t a lot of second chances in the playoffs because a few mistakes can end things pretty quickly for any team.

The playoffs are the tie where things begin to stand out because the teams on the ice are the main attraction.

There is nowhere to hide and every hit along with every goal is put under a microscope because there is only so much to talk about.

If someone makes a bad decision they will be seen and they will be talked about which is sure to make it hard for those that play on the edge.

Although Doughty had his first ever suspension, Kadri has been here before and the NHL knows this which is why they handed down the suspension in two very different lengths.

They are watching for those known players and if they step over that line they will sit down which will hurt their team in the most important part of the season.

The Leafs were the first to get that message but won’t be the last as it happens every year where questionable decisions begin to play a bigger role.


Leaving the Game Behind

He helped to bring the Dallas Stars back into the conversation in the league but after 22 seasons behind the bench, Ken Hitchcock has announced his retirement. He has been a part of some great teams that have made some great runs but after a couple years outside of the playoffs, the Stars may have been looking to go a different way. Whether or not they were set to move on or give him another shot, Hitchcock made the decision easy choosing to step away and become a consultant with the team.

Tributes Continue

The tragedy in Saskatchewan involving the Humboldt Broncos has rocked the sports world throughout North America. The tributes continued to pour in this week as some of the first victims of the crash were laid to rest. People continue to put out sticks in remembrance and this week people from around the world wore jerseys to honour those affected. The challenge now is moving on as the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League begins their championship with heavy hearts and the Broncos in everyone’s mind.

The First Coaching Causality

The year was an unusual one for head coaches with no coach losing his job throughout the entire season. It was bound to be broken up though as not every coach was going to be back for the new season. The first to lose his spot was Alain Vigneault who will not return to the New York Rangers leaving the first opening spot for the off-season but certainly not the only open spot.

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