As the NHL trade deadline looms closer and closer, fans have seen several teams putting their best foot forward for the playoffs and making some pretty noticeable moves.
Headlining the trades were the St. Louis Blues, who shipped former No. 1 overall pick Erik Johnson to the Colorado Avalanche, and the Boston Bruins, who made several trades in order to eventually acquire Tomas Kaberle from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
However, the best trade lately has been the Tampa Bay Lightningâ€™s acquisition of defenseman Eric Brewer from the St. Louis Blues for the rights to prospect Brock Beukeboom and a third-round pick in the 2011 draft. The Lightning is a young team sitting pretty right now in second place in the Eastern Conference.
GM Steve Yzerman knows that if Tampa Bay wants to celebrate more than just a surprisingly successful regular season and make a deep run in the playoffs, it needs some serious leadership and reliability along the blue line.
Bringing in veteran defenseman Eric Brewer essentially fulfills those requirements. Brewer, the 31 year old Canadian, has played over 700 career games in the NHL and has playoff experience.
The Lighting are one of the youngest teams in the league, and Vincent Lecavalier, Pavel Kubina, and Martin St. Louis are the only players remaining from the 2004 Stanley Cup Championship team still on the roster. Yzermanâ€™s trade makes them a serious contender to not only fend off the Southeast Division rival Washington Capitals, but keep a high seed heading into the playoffs and make a legitimate run at winning the second cup in franchise history.
NBCâ€™s production of â€œHockey Day in Americaâ€ turned out to be a great success thanks to their exciting matchups that produced entertaining games in hockey markets, however much overlooked in America was the NHLâ€™s â€œHeritage Classicâ€ between the Calgary Flames and the Montreal Canadiens.
The â€œHeritage Classicâ€ is Canadaâ€™s answer to the â€œWinter Classic,â€ pitting two Canadian NHL teams against each other in an outdoor game. The game was played in Calgary at McMahon Stadium, home of the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL. Calgary dominated the game, winning 4-0 in front of 41,022 fans – all braving the frigid 16.5 degrees Fahrenheit temperature. Despite the score, the game was close and could have lasted even longer had Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff not turned away all 39 shots he faced.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
The Phoenix Coyotes, winners of seven straight, have been blazing a trail through the National Hockey League, so it will be interesting to see if they can continue their winning ways on their road trip when they visit Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, and Columbus all in the span of just four days. Philadelphia has been on a tear throughout the Eastern Conference, decimating opponents at an un-godly rate and have made news by poising themselves to make a run at a championship by trading for Swedish winger Kris Versteeg who gained fame as one of the heroes of last yearâ€™s Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks.