Welcome! Below is a bit of an overview previewing the upcoming NHL season. We’ll tell you about the new divisions, the new playoff format, the new rule changes, who’s got new jerseys, which players are worth watching, which teams are in outdoor games and more. Let’s dive in.
The clock has finally flipped to the set time your parents said was an acceptable hour to wake them up for Christmas morning, and Santa has made a visit. It is finally time, and you’ve waited so long. Hockey is here.
OR, maybe you hate Christmas or belong to a different religion and today is just a really great day. Maybe the metaphor is completely unnecessary.
This is a bit of a different year in the NHL. We’re coming out of a lockout-shortened season that saw the Chicago Blackhawks claim their second Cup in the past four years, which requires absolutely no asterisk – the playoffs weren’t shortened, that’s for damn sure – but it didn’t tell us everything we needed to know about all the teams, what with the small sample size and all. Would Columbus have snuck into playoffs with more time? Could the Flyers have climbed up and in by game 82? Would the Capitals have caught Montreal for the two seed? Would Anaheim have slid down the standings? You get the idea.
To go with the heightened uncertainty, this season is an Olympic year, which means there’s no All-Star Game, but actual All-Stars will be increasingly taxed by additional high-tempo games. That means Columbus, denied an All-Star Game in 2013 by the lockout, is again denied it by the Olympics. They’ll get theirs in 2015, barring a meteor or whatever.
As you get set to watch tonight’s action – Toronto at Montreal, Washtington at Chicago, and Winnipeg at Edmonton – you might as well get to know some important things about the upcoming season.
The Divisions have been realigned
Yup – Detroit and Columbus have moved to the Eastern Conference for their (and their fans’) convenience, while the Winnipeg Jets have gone to the West. That means the Conferences are uneven (16 in the East, 14 in the West), which is completely weird, and raises questions about expansion (hello Seattle?).