NHL Week in Review (April 29-May 5)

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The playoffs are a time for the roles in the game of hockey to really step forward and show what they’re worth.

Hockey is unlike every other sport in that there are really only three main positions with defence, forward and goaltender marking the main sections for all players.

Yet in those three main categories of player, there is a host of other roles that players fill all with their own great aspects.

There are those players that are just natural scorers or playmakers that drive the offence when they are on the ice.

On defence, there are the offensive defenceman who can put up their own points and defensive defence who prefer to stay at home.

That isn’t even the start of the type of players that are on a team as there are forwards with a penchant for defence and some who are just great at carrying the puck.

All of these roles are important to a team but they all become that much more important when the playoffs begin.

Teams need all of them to play their role and bring that special skill to the team in the most important games of the season.

There may be no more important roles than those unsung roles in the sport as guys with that leadership quality and guys that live to annoy can be very important.

These roles are not the players that enter the playoffs as the superstars that every team needs to figure out how to stop.

They can be stars of their teams but more often than not they play their role largely in the background.

That is until the playoffs start and these roles become some of the most important on any team.

Although it is clear that the great defenceman and great offensive players need to be to the top of their game those role players are so important.

Even the best defenceman can miss an assignment and cause a goal while the best offensive players can be streaky.

The leaders on the team and those “glue guys” can make all the difference in a time of year that just seems to need that type of player.

These are the players that never get too high and never get to low and act as leaders in the locker room.

When others begin to struggle they are the ones that keep things together and keep everyone from finding themselves too far down.hockey-sidebar

They can lift the entire team up and get things back on track when players are struggling and get their team back on the winning road.

Then there are the pests who are a different bread of player that live to annoy the other team.

They are the players who don’t care as much about building their team up but rather focus on tearing the other team down.

Pests are among the most important people in the playoffs as every successful team has had that one guy who can get under everyone’s skin.

These players make their living off of trying to get the other team to think about anything other than the game they are playing in on that night.

Things only get more intense when the playoffs begin as these pests don’t go away and stay right in everyone’s face throughout what could be seven games.

It can be an effective strategy for teams if they have that guy who can take the focus off of the game and put it on himself.

Of course, there is also a fine line between being a great pest and being a detriment to your own team.

Brad Marchand may have crossed the line this year as he has always been one of the best pests in the game.

Lately, though he has taken to licking his opponents as a way to get under their skin and it was weird from the moment it first happened.

The NHL had to warn Marchand about the new strategy and it is now becoming a distraction for the team who are now down 3-1.

Still, these players are becoming only more important as the playoffs continue into the end of the second round.

Games are getting tougher as players continue to fight fatigue making these roles all the more important.

Overtime

Stars Find Their Man

The Dallas Stars looked to a somewhat more unconventional place for their new head coach although they still got one of the top coaching targets. They announced this week that Jim Montgomery will take over behind the bench next season. Montgomery will lead the Stars after five years with the University of Denver. He is one of the few coaches to make the transition straight from the NCAA to the NHL and hopes to be the most successful after past experiences have not seen the best results.

Heading Back to China

In a week where every league seemed to be announcing plans for the future outside of North America, the NHL followed suit. After spending part of the season in China and Europe the NHL will be headed back announcing that they will hold games in Finland, Sweden and China. The games in China are by far the most interesting as the league continues to try to break into that market and with implications for the Olympics these games are always going to be watched closely to see what they can do in a massive market.

IIHF Suspensions

After the World Juniors, the Swedes caused a lot of issues when multiple players refused to wear the silver medals they had received after losing to the Canadians in the finals. It was an act of an immaturity on the part of multiple players after a tough win and so for many, it was disappointing but somewhat understandable. There never seemed to be any punishment coming until this week when the IIHF surprised everyone. They announced suspensions for five players and three coaches after the incident despite the fact that some players will not be returning to the Juniors next year.

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