10 Biggest Takeaways from Week 13 in the NHL

Brad KurtzbergContributor IApril 18, 2013

10 Biggest Takeaways from Week 13 in the NHL

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    Week 13 of this lockout-shortened 2012-13 NHL season lasted from April 8th-April 14th.

    It was a week full of important, late-season games and included upsets, injuries and a playoff picture that is gradually coming into clearer focus.

    Here is a look back at the 10 biggest facts we can takeaway from week 13 in the NHL.

    Feel free to comment on these or add something you feel I may have left out. Remember, we are concentrating on the period between April 8th and April 14th so things that happened this week are not included in this analysis.

10. The Canadiens Really Miss Alexei Emelin

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    The Montreal Canadiens clearly miss defenseman Alexei Emelin.

    The Russian defenseman has been out of the lineup since April 6 with torn ligaments in his left knee and he will be lost for the season.

    The Canadiens lost two of their three games during the week including a game in which they gave up five goals to the Maple Leafs.

    Emelin leads the Canadiens with 110 hits and the next highest player has just 78. Emelin gave the Habs an average of 19:40 of solid play in their own end and they already miss his presence.

9. John Tortorella's Conservative Style Is Hurting the Rangers

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    John Tortorella has been a successful NHL coach, leading the Lightning to a Stanley Cup title in 2004 and helping the Rangers reach the Eastern Conference Final last season.

    But Tortorella's system is very conservative and last week provided further evidence that that system is hurting the Rangers.

    Sure, the Rangers won Saturday's game at the Nassau Coliseum over the New York Islanders 1-0 in overtime, but during the game, the Islanders outplayed the Rangers for most of the game and only a few posts and great goaltending by Henrik Lundqvist helped keep the Isles off the scoreboard.

    If you go examine their rosters top to bottom, the Rangers have more offensive talent than the Islanders. Yet under Torts' system, they played like the less-talented team and it hurt them.

    Despite having Rick Nash, Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan and formerly Marian Gaborik on their roster, the Rangers are near the bottom of the league in goals scored. Tortorella's conservative style is a huge reason for this.

    This conservative approach may have worked better in the last year of the "Dead Puck Era," but right now, it is not the right approach for the New York Rangers.

8. Justice Is Done for Brad Marchand

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    New Jersey's Anton Volchenkov was officially sentenced by Brendan Shanahan for this vicious elbow to the head of Boston's Brad Marchand.

    The league handed down a four-game suspension for the Devils' defenseman as a result of this hit. Shanahan described the contact as a "reckless elbow."

    The Bruins lost Marchand, who led the team in scoring, to a concussion.

    Marchand missed all of week 13 but finally returned to action April 17th against the Sabres.

7. Backup Goalie Keeps Stars in Playoff Hunt

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    Backup goalie Richard Bachman helped keep the slim playoff hopes of the Dallas Stars alive as he filled in for the injured Kari Lehtonen.

    Bachman went 3-0-0 on the week with a 1.08 GAA and a save percentage of .963 during the week which was good enough to earn him the NHL's third star of the week.

    The Stars beat the Kings, Predators and Sharks and pulled to within two points of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference by week's end.

6. The Islanders Are for Real

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    The Islanders picked up five of a possible six points during this week, going 2-0-1 in games against the Flyers, Bruins and Rangers.

    The win over Philadelphia avenged their embarrassing 7-0 defeat at the Nassau Coliseum earlier this season.

    The road win in Boston showed that the Isles could take advantage of a tired team and play a disciplined defensive game against one of the league's top teams.

    The 1-0 overtime loss to the Rangers was a well-played game by both teams. It was the most highly-anticipated game between these two bitter rivals in almost two decades and the Isles picked up a valuable point to stay ahead of the Rangers in the standings.

    Dan Girardi of the Rangers summed it up well after scoring the only goal of the game Saturday night. "The Islanders are a good team. They threw everything they could at us."

    The Islanders are in a good position to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

5. Phil Kessel Makes the Leafs Dangerous

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    When Phil Kessel is scoring points in bunches, the Toronto Maple Leafs are tough to beat.

    During Week 13, Kessel scored five goals and added two assists in three games as the Leafs went 2-0-1 to further solidify their hold on their first playoff berth since 2004. For his efforts, Kessel was named the NHL's second star of the week.

    More importantly, the Leafs played two teams they are fighting busy fighting for playoff position, the Rangers (twice) and Canadiens.

    Toronto is now 9-1-3 in games where Kessel has scored at least one goal this season.

4. Reports of Alex Ovechkin Demise Were Greatly Exaggerated

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    Alex Ovechkin continued his hot play and now leads the NHL in goals scored.

    In four games during Week 13, "The Great Eight" scored four goals and added an assist and the Capitals went a perfect 4-0-0.

    Washington is now in first place in the Southeast Division after a very slow start to the season as Ovechkin and company adjusted to rookie head coach Adam Oates' system.

    At mid-season, people were convinced Ovechkin was no longer the same player he was earlier in his career. Now, those doubts have been erased by his strong second half.

3. Marty Is Not Enough

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    The New Jersey Devils continued their losing ways during Week 13, going 0-2, bringing their winless streak to nine games (0-5-4).

    The Devils slumped without Martin Brodeur in the lineup but when Brodeur returned to the on March 21, New Jersey was expected to bounce back.

    Instead, this slump has followed which shows that the Devils' problems run much deeper than just getting Brodeur back between the pipes.

    Brodeur went 0-2-1 on the week as New Jersey nearly fell completely out of playoff contention.

2. The Red Wings Are in Trouble

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    The Detroit Red Wings are in a struggle to qualify for the playoffs this season. Detroit has made the postseason for 21 consecutive seasons but that streak is now in serious jeopardy.

    Detroit was still clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference at the end of Week 13, but they struggled with a 1-0-2 record during the week.

    The Wings are losing games they would have won in the past. The Wings led by a goal early in the third period but San Jose tied it and then won in a shootout.

    After blowing a one-goal lead at home, the Red Wings followed that up by doing the same thing in Chicago the following night. Jonathan Toews tied the game with less than 3:00 left in regulation time and again, Detroit lost in a shootout.

    The Red Wings clearly miss both Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart. Having younger players in key positions has hurt them in key games during this stretch run.

1. Bobrovsky and the Jackets Are the Real Deal

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    Sergei Bobrovsky is the real deal and he has put the Columbus Blue Jackets in a position to go from the league's worst team a year ago to a playoff team in 2013.

    Bobrovsky was named the NHL's first star of the week after going 3-0 for the week with a 0.97 GAA and a save percentage of .971. He also had a 4-0 shutout win over the San Jose Sharks.

    On the season, the Russian netminder has a 2.03 GAA (as of April 18) and a save percentage of .931 to go along with four shutouts.

    Ironically, the Blue Jackets acquired "Bob" from the Flyers, a team that is still searching for a top-notch starting goalie.

    Bobrovsky is the main reason the Blue Jackets are contending for a playoff spot and with each passing week, fewer and fewer people are doubting that Columbus is for real.