NHL

NHL heads back to the ice after Olympic break

Share This Story

   
 

The Sochi Olympics are over and the NHL is back after freezing its schedule so that the world's best hockey players could compete for gold - perhaps for the last time.

Sidney Crosby won another Olympic championship with Canada. Now, Sid the Kid wants to help the Pittsburgh Penguins hoist the Stanley Cup again.

Crosby and the Penguins host Montreal on Thursday, the third day of league games after the Olympic break, just four days after helping the Canadians beat Sweden in the gold-medal game in Russia.

''In some ways, it will help, playing at this speed in one-game elimination with desperation,'' Crosby said Sunday after the final competition of the Sochi Games. ''I haven't really had this transition midseason with Olympic ice, going back to regular size, but I don't think it's a bad thing.''

In the East, Boston holds a seven-point lead over Tampa Bay in the Atlantic Division coming out of the Olympic break. Pittsburgh holds a 16-point lead over the Rangers in the Metropolitan.

It's much tighter in the West, where St. Louis and defending champion Chicago are tied atop the Central Division, just five points in front of Colorado. The Ducks have the conference's top mark and a seven-point lead on San Jose.

The NHL is going to have its fifth and sixth outdoor games of the season on Saturday, when the Chicago Blackhawks play Pittsburgh at Soldier field, and the next day in a Vancouver-Ottawa matchup at BC Place.

Despite seemingly having success with the expansion of the concept beyond an annual Winter Classic, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman isn't ready to say there will be more than one game exposed to the elements next season.

''We haven't made any decisions about how many games next year (will be outdoors), but the games this year so far have been nothing short of spectacular,'' Bettman said in an interview with The Associated Press during the Olympics. ''The Winter Classic had over 100,000 people in Michigan, played in the snow, and at two games in Yankee Stadium and the game in Los Angeles, fans couldn't have been more engaged.

''When you think about the impact of these regular season games have had, it shows you how excited our fans get about the outdoor games.''

The Detroit Red Wings lost to Toronto in a shootout at the Big House on New Year's Day, giving the Maple Leafs an extra point that could prove to be pivotal when the regular season ends April 13. The storied franchises are likely competing for one of the two wild-card bids in the Eastern Conference.

If the playoffs began today, the Red Wings would extend their postseason streak to 23. Detroit made it last year by only one point and the race might be as tight again with Columbus, Ottawa, Washington, Carolina and New Jersey within a win or two of moving into a wild-card spot.

''When we play teams like Montreal and Toronto, those are really like four-point games,'' Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said.

In the Western Conference, which appears to be filled with better teams, it looks like Dallas, Phoenix, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Nashville may be vying for the eighth and final spot in the playoffs. The Buffalo Sabres, meanwhile, have an NHL-low 38 points - nine fewer than the last place team, Edmonton, in the Western Conference.

That gives Buffalo plenty of incentive to shop goaltender Ryan Miller and his expiring contract. Miller was primarily used as a backup for the United States in the Olympics.

The Sabres are running out of time to get something in return for the face of their franchise. The NHL's trade deadline is March 5.

Some teams that were hit by injuries during the Olympics may make moves to replace the players they lost. Others, such as Buffalo, might decide to trade talented or expensive players if it appears they have no shot to be a part of the postseason.

---

Follow Larry Lage on Twitter: http://twitter.com/larrylage

Tagged: Sabres, Red Wings, Penguins, Sidney Crosby

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



Play Hockey Simulation Game on WhatIfSports

NHL Videos

Toews, Kane: Easy decision to resign with Blackhawks Posted: Jul 17, 2014
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane say their decision to sign matching 8-year, $84M...

LA mayor 'F-bombs' Kings rally Posted: Jun 17, 2014
Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti toasts the Stanley Cup champion Kings in front o...

Kings, fans celebrate Stanley Cup Posted: Jun 16, 2014
Kings players celebrate winning the Stanley Cup with a parade through downtown L...

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Pittsburgh_Penguins/browse/featuredproduct/175178/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_175000/FF_175178_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black
    Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Dallas_Stars/browse/featuredproduct/243363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_243000/FF_243363_xl.jpg&w=100 124.95 Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey
    Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Tampa_Bay_Lightning/browse/featuredproduct/301017/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_301000/ff_301017_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Anaheim_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/398322/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_398000/FF_398322_xl.jpg&w=100 43.99 Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Red_Wings/browse/featuredproduct/403205/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_403000/FF_403205_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack
    Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Chicago_Blackhawks/browse/featuredproduct/408123/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_408000/FF_408123_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey
    Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_Jersey_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/456774/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_456000/ff_456774_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Vancouver_Canucks/browse/featuredproduct/665779/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_665000/ff_665779_xl.jpg&w=100 11.95 Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick
    Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Islanders/browse/featuredproduct/752594/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_752000/ff_752594_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt