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Hockey and the Winter Olympics

It is hard to focus on hockey since other sports are more prominent at this time, but it is worth a look at the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February 2018. The headlines have been created by the National Hockey League, or NHL, restricting its players from playing in the Olympics. This yielded cries of complaint from fans and players against the league. This prompted me to dissect both sides of the story and determine which points each case made.

Let them play!

Athletes and fans claim that is it completely and brutally unfair to restrict players from being able to serve their country in an event that takes place once every four years. Players only get one or two chances to get this type of world attention and experience. The Olympics truly cannot compare to NHL games or even the Stanley Cup. The roughly seven game suspension for competing in the Olympics is a tall price to pay for many of the athletes who genuinely want to play in the worldwide event. The penalty applies not only to NHL players, but also athletes to athletes in the professional minor league teams. This diminishes the overall talent in the Olympics which is truly disappointing considering that hockey is a main highlight in the games. Luckily, several NHL players including Russian star Alex Ovechkin, openly came out to state that they would be willing to face the punishment to compete in the games; this exemplifies how the players greatly care about this event. Lastly, the league allowed players to compete in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics but are NOW putting the restriction on the athletes. The league is too late, unfair and just plain wrong.

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NHL Division Leaders Analysis

The 2016-2017 National Hockey League season is 1/4 of the way done, yet early projections may be inferred by the current standings.

Here are the Leaders in each division with a breakdown of why and why not they will win-

Atlantic

Montreal-30 pts

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Why to Believe: The Canadiens started the season winning 9 of their first 10 games. If everyone can stay healthy, they look like the favorite to run away with their division. Nobody is within 5 pts of the Canadiens and the team boasts firepower, especially with Shea Weber. The 6’4 defensemen is proving that his trade this offseason was not a mistake by notching a league leading 8 goals by a defensemen. Hockey Reference gives them a whopping 91.5% chance of making the playoffs and a 6.7% chance to win the Stanley Cup.

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Why to Worry: Carey Price’s Health. It is not a coincidence that the amazing start to the season was drastically pertaining to the health of their goaltender. Since the start, the Habs have shown an average 5-5 record. Additionally, in order to have a shot at the Stanley Cup, the Canadiens will most likely play the New York Rangers…a force to be reckoned with.

Metropolitan

New York Rangers- 29 pts

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Why to Believe: The Rangers appear as the most well-rounded team in the NHL at this moment; Hockey Reference gives them a 15.9% shot at winning the Stanley Cup. Michael Grabner is tied for the league lead in goals while also leading the NHL in plus/minus. The Rangers lead the league in goals. At this moment, nothing appears to be slowing the Rangers down.

Why to Worry: The defense has played well, but will need to be even better in order to compensate for when the scoring may face a lull. If the Rangers want to win this year, Henrik Lundqvist will additionally need to be on the top of his game.

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