There can be no mysteries when Tampa Bay and Florida meet within the first spherical of the playoffs after dealing with off eight instances this season and twice previously week. Identical deal for Montreal and Toronto, who’ve performed 10 instances since mid-January.
“I don’t need to say it takes sort of among the enjoyable out it, but it surely does as a result of you recognize much more what to anticipate,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper stated.
A wierd NHL common season has given approach to a one-of-a-kind playoff event for the Stanley Cup. It is going to function a gap two rounds of all divisional play for the primary time in nearly 30 years and re-seed the ultimate 4 to crown a champion for the primary time in league historical past.
“It’s simply one other factor about our yr that’s extremely distinctive,” Vegas common supervisor Kelly McCrimmon stated Friday. “You could possibly see matchups that you’d typically solely see in a Stanley Cup Closing scenario, in order that’s going so as to add one other layer of uniqueness to an already distinctive season.”
It’s so distinctive that by the point Calgary and Vancouver end their common seasons, some first-round playoff sequence can be two video games outdated.
A complete of 57 video games had been postponed this season — 51 for virus-related causes — so the playoffs open just a few days later than deliberate when Washington hosts Boston on Saturday evening.
Watch beneath: Some World Information movies about COVID-19’s impression on the NHL.
After increasing to 24 groups to finish the 2020 season, the playoff discipline is again to the normal 16 with 4 from every quickly realigned division. The primary two rounds are a return to the divisional playoff format the NHL used from 1982-93, and issues ought to be even spicier after a season of all divisional play.
“There’s actually no secrets and techniques,” stated Carolina’s Rod Brind’Amour, one in every of six head coaches within the playoffs who performed in that outdated format.
“It’s going to be an excessive amount of happening, each groups making an attempt to do the identical issues and we’re every in one another’s approach, so one thing’s going to present.”
Cooper thinks Sport 1 of every sequence will higher resemble a Sport 2 or 3 since groups received’t want any time to get accustomed to one another. They’ve had at the least eight probabilities to get acquainted over the previous 4 months.
“Unhealthy blood’s already there, sometimes should you’ve performed a crew eight instances and each groups are within the playoffs,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy stated.
“As a substitute of type of a buildup over time the place step by step you get to Sport 4 and abruptly now the nastiness begins, you’ll simply see it sooner.
“Familiarity will breed contempt faster.”
Nashville GM David Poile believes that familiarity may also breed higher sequence. The league has tried for years to gin up rivalries, and whereas these aren’t the circumstances anybody wished, there’s no love misplaced in any of the eight first-round matchups.
“There’s been rather a lot to, I suppose, not like about this yr, however one of many issues is enjoying these similar groups and increase these rivalries,” Poile stated.
“It’s actually, actually good, and I feel it’s going to make for good hockey.”
There’ll possible be completely different kinds of hockey throughout the divisions: Nashville-Carolina and Tampa Bay-Florida within the Central, Boston-Washington and the New York Islanders vs. Pittsburgh within the East, St. Louis-Colorado and Minnesota-Vegas within the West and Montreal-Toronto and Winnipeg-Edmonton within the North. For one, there are nonetheless no followers allowed in arenas in Canada, whereas each area within the U.S. could have a crowd of at the least 4,000 to start out the playoffs.
“By this time, I feel we’re fairly used to it with no followers,” Winnipeg ahead Nate Thompson stated.
“Within the bubble (final summer season), each crew needed to create their very own momentum, their very own pleasure.”
There’s no bubble this time, and the NHL is even stress-free pandemic protocols for every crew that has 85 per cent of its travelling social gathering absolutely vaccinated.
Watch beneath: Some World Information movies in regards to the NHL’s playoff bubble in Edmonton in 2020.
Even after he and the Lightning received the Cup in quarantine as bubble hockey champions, Tampa Bay heart Yanni Gourde stated “it’s a totally completely different vibe” this yr and is happy to get again to sharing the playoffs with household.
“It does really feel much more regular, or prefer it was within the years previous,” Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron stated. “Travelling, two video games on the highway, two video games again at house after which 1-1-1, so it’s again to common playoffs, and sort of wanting ahead to that.”
Hockey gamers and coaches know higher than to look too far ahead. However reseeding the ultimate 4 offers the potential for cross-continental semifinals and Cup Closing matchups that might ordinarily by no means be potential.
Boston and Toronto might meet for the Cup after a number of current first-round sequence. It could possibly be Washington-Carolina, Edmonton-Vegas or Nashville-St. Louis.
“We’d love to seek out out,” McCrimmon stated.
“It’ll be actually fascinating to see what these video games are like, to see how groups are enjoying, and naturally there’s so many issues which might be going to alter between from time to time… Simply via the eyes of a hockey fan, that’s going to be actually neat to see what occurs.”
-With recordsdata from The Related Press’ Teresa M. Walker, Aaron Beard and Tim Reynolds
© 2021 The Related Press
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