The shortened regular season might not give us many bright spots, but the Stanley Cup playoffs could be one for the ages.
As we await the ratification of the NHL's new CBA, and the release of the office NHL schedule, lets debate on what we could have ahead of us. The NHL will be playing a shortened schedule, of either 50 or 48 games, but not necessarily a compressed schedule. According to James Mirtle's article in the Globe and Mail, the amount of games played in one week will not be much different than in a normal season.
Likely realizing the difference between the two sports and perhaps learning from the NBA’s example, the NHL brass are planning to play a 48-game season in 103 days or a 50-game season in 107, depending on when it can get its new collective agreement ratified and training camps opened across North America.
That will make for roughly 3.27 games a week per team – or just 2 per cent more than what players usually have to deal with during Olympic years.
I know many are concerned that a compressed schedule can lead to a ton of injuries, much like the NBA saw last year. But with such a small additional work load added I don't see that being the case. Now the very short training camp and the exclusion of an exhibition schedule does have me concern for some injuries in the first few weeks of the season.
Granted, the first handful of games played are going to be God awful and probably will make our eyes bleed. But, once the rust is off, and when we reach the playoffs, we can see some fantastic hockey when in matters the most.
Imagine the world's greatest players entering the playoffs with only 48 games under their belts instead of the normal 82. That is 34 less games of wear and tear on the body. People are saying that the winner of this year's Stanley Cup will be tainted because of the shortened season. I don't think that is the case at all. You still have to win 16 games in the playoffs, which is why the Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy to win in all of sports.
There could be some very interesting match ups in this year's playoffs due to the shortened season. There could be some teams at the bottom of the conference playoff trees that belong up top and vice versa. With everybody's top players being much fresher at playoff time than normal we could have some great playoff series on our hands. The cream will rise to the top, as it always does, and the best teams will be there in the end, no matter how many games were played in the regular season.