The story unfolds as the NHL makes an unprecedented return to summer

They gave Stanley Cups on 101 different occasions, but never before.

We have no reference frame for what might happen when you throw 24 teams into a tournament and start with a sprint at a 142-day break due to epidemics. We don’t know what it will look and feel like to watch the play-off games in the middle of summer inside an empty arena. We probably can’t even imagine how isolating players within tightly regulated “protected zones” and significantly restricting their movement could affect how they compete.

“We’ve made a joke that it’s like going to Mars,” said Matthew Snyder, special assistant to NHLPA, special assistant to executive director Donald Fehr. “No one has ever been here.”

And so when we talk about stories that revolve around the NHL’s Ritter-to-Play plan, we’re really talking about the unknown.

The Stanley Cup playoffs seem to have more sugar under normal circumstances than an intensity and unpredictability that envies other big sports. Here? Now? Like this? All bets are completely off.

Jeff Merek and Elliott Friedman Hockey talk to a lot of people around the world and then they tell the audience everything they have heard and what they think about it.

Does it even consider last year’s finalists, Boston and St. Louis, being the best team again in the regular season and seemingly ready for a longer playoff? Can the encouragement of youth be an advantage in challenging situations? Is Tampa finally the final push of the mountains this year? Will there be a carryover for Philadelphia and Vegas, each of which was red hot during the break? Even after playing the so-called Ghost Games, could Home Ice be convenient for either Edmonton or Toronto? Can anyone win five series on their way to the championship by becoming the first team in NHL history to be left out of the qualifiers?

As soon as the training camp started on Monday, these questions started moving from conjecture to reality. There will be exhibition games for more than two weeks from now and the real thing is again August 1st.

This planned resume can be weird and great and everything in between. It will definitely be memorable for everyone involved.

“None of us have come to a series where seven teams are staying at the same hotel and it’s like a small hockey game where if the games in front of you run a little longer you are waiting for that kind of game to end of overtime or what you have,” said Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager. Kyle Dubas says.

“I never really imagined sitting in the rink watching three games in mid-August and spending the whole day watching you, but the ability to watch three games a whole day sitting in the NHL Play-off Hockey and Scotiabank Arena is going to be pretty great. “

Home Isis

It was of considerable concern among the managers that at one stage of the process the Western Conference delegations were coming to the East while the Eastern Conference was discussing sending the delegations to the West.

It never makes much sense for an event to be made for TV where time-zone adjustment further complicates an already scheduled schedule.

And so the Maple Leafs are at home in Toronto, but the Oilers are based in Edmonton, with no general comforts. Players will move to hotels on July 2nd like everyone else and can only leave the safe zone in the same conditions assigned to all participants.

They will only set foot in their own dressing room for games where they have nominated a “home” team. Otherwise, the Eulers Spraying Dressing Room at Rogers Place in Chicago or Columbus has more clearly occupied the Leafs Quarter at Scotiabank Arena, where even the five-best Stanley Cup picks can be played by ordinary residents.

Still, there may be some benefits to the overall introduction. If Edmonton and / or Toronto have had on-ice success this summer, at least the idea will get some steam.

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Tamp time?

No NHL team 2013-1. Since the start, Tampa Bay has not won more regular-season games than Lighting.

Neither team accumulates more points or hearts.

Winning the championship is so strong that anyone can be considered “appropriate” because of the 31-team league because it reduces the tears of older men. And so it’s worth noting that Buzz was only among the two parties to vote against these two playoff formats when it was brought to the NHLPA’s executive board part because they felt disadvantaged as the top seed that dropped out of the playoffs.

NHLPA Representative Alex Killern told The Athletic, “(We) felt it was unfair that teams with Bye would not be so ready for the playoff series, because the teams that have already basically reached the playoff series,” NHLPA representative Alex Killern told Athletic. Stay.

More complicated is the fact that the team’s group practice facilities were shut down during a small group workout last month due to multiple positive COVID-19 tests, and captain Steven Stamcos will miss the start of training camp due to an injury to the bottom of his body.

Still, lightning is a big threat. They are ridiculously skilled, deep and battle-tested. And GM Julien Bryceboys says “we’ll embrace the suckling and dance in the rain.”

Fatty factor

It took until June 12, 2019, to determine the winner for St. Louis and Boston after the Stanley Cup was last handed out.

Both were more adept at challenging it than enduring tough miles. But how this pruning deals with experienced teams is an open question: on the one hand you wanted to expect the Blues and Bruins to benefit from the rest after a short summer, but they can also be proud of rosters with lots of fathers and family men who can be controversial. They jump back in this way.

Think of it as one of the biggest unknowns for everyone involved with the NHL’s Ritter-to-Play plan: How deeply has each team invested?

St. Louis and Boston are proud of the talented roster with a champion heart, but they have not been able to achieve their previous success in the current situation.

Young Stars

Elias Peterson and Queen Hughes are experiencing the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time. Connor McDavid and Leon Drysittle are back in their second round. Austin Mathews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander have reached the post-season in four straight years, but they have yet to get the feeling of winning the series with the leaves.

There are many opportunities here for the next generation.

Not only did they get young and excited, but the effect of the playoffs matched what we had already seen in the regular season, it’s just a matter of time.

Why not now?


You don’t see a lot of teams marching to the championship without a strong performance at the crease, yet rarely can a goalkeeper jump straight into a playoff game with nothing more than an exhibition under his belt in the previous four-plus months.

It’s right now facing the league’s voodoo crew.

Famous names in this regular season’s play-off bundle include: Tuku Rusk of Boston (save .929 percent), Connor Helbuback of Winnipeg (.922), Bishop of Dallas’ Ben Bishop (.920) and Robin Lehner of Vegas (.920).

Behind them were Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom (.918) and Edmonton’s Mikko Koskinen (.917), who posted career-best numbers.

But will there be any issue with this now?

In fact, you probably benefited the most from this extended break were the goals that put the heaviest work pressure on the shoulders this year: Kelly Price of Hellbuck and Montreal (starting 58), Frederick Andersen of Toronto (52), Tampere Andre Vasilyevsky (52 later 52). And St. Louis Jordan Binnington (50).

Although none of these men have much time to find their rhythm, at least the pots of injury have become long. The mind should also be refreshed.


He was surprised to hear that his team’s goal was to win 19 games.

Gone are the days when it only took 16 – at least to get out of the gates to compete in the qualifiers.

The whole tournament is scheduled to take place in 5 days and the teams will play backwards in the series, the rush will come soon. Even during the playoffs the rest and recovery will be overcome without the journey you normally see.

Depth is likely to be more important than ever, which is why recent drafts like Nick Robertson of Toronto and Liam Foudi of Columbus seem to have paved the way for the lineup at the end of the year playing in the Ontario Hockey League and the World Junior Tournament.

Protection and testing

The hard part is barely beginning.

Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney summed up the mood of the league powerbrokers on Sunday, when he told reporters about the inevitable spike in COVID-19 results during a video call: “We are seeing positive cases through Episode 3 and beyond. 4. We must avoid outbreaks. “

When the league last released the numbers a week ago, only 53 percent of the population playing NHL was regularly tested. Now everyone is going to have nasal swab or saliva test every other day through training camp.

In the final count, there have been 35 positive tests between June 8th and July 6th and there will be many more.

Even with coronavirus hot spots in Florida, Texas and Arizona – teams holding training camps in their own markets – Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly expressed optimism Saturday that there is a way to not experience an outbreak inside the bubbles in NHL Hub City. The whole incident could be in jeopardy.

“We think that if everyone does this as suggested by the protocol, it should be done in a safe environment, regardless of the external COVID results,” Daly said.

Snyder added, “There will be a huge attack on the players in Phase 3 here to make sure they are taking care of themselves and looking for teammates.” “Going to the rink, going home, going to the grocery store, social distance, wearing masks, washing hands – each of us is practicing every day now.

“There is a very good chance that the boys are going to be safe in Babli under normal circumstances at home.”

Cross your fingers and hope they get there safely.

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