It was no secret when the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers crossed the knives in the first round of the NHL Playoffs. The concept is similar between the Montreal Canadians and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I don’t think it will be fun, but the reason for this is you know so much more about what to expect,” said Lightning head coach Joan Cooper.
The bizarre NHL season is paving the way for exclusive Stanley Cup playoffs. The first two rounds will take place within the divisions for the first time in almost two years and the teams will be reclassified in four-quarters.
“This is another situation that makes our year so special,” said Kelly McCremon, General Manager, Golden Knights, Vegas. You can see the clashes you usually use to watch in the Stanley Cup final. ”
This season is so special that by the time the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Cancs finish their campaign, some of the first rounds in the playoffs are already two games old. A total of 57 games have been postponed this season, with the playoffs starting a little later than expected when the Washington capitals hosted the Boston Bruins on Saturday night.
After rising to 24 teams to complete the 2020 season, the playoffs returned to their usual total of 16 rosters, four of which were from the provisionally renewed division. The NHL used the first two rounds of format within the division from 1982 to 1993.
“There are really no secrets,” said Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind ‘Amore, one of six coaches who played in the old format.
Cooper believes the first game of each series is like the second or third game, because teams do not need to know each other. They have already had at least eight clashes in the last four months.
“There was already some animosity when you faced the same team eight times and now they are both in the playoffs,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. Rather than erupting until the fourth game, a sudden toughness ensues, and you’re going to see it quickly. ”
Predators general manager David Poyle also believes the milk will create a good series. The NHL has long sought to increase hostility, and although these are not the conditions for doing so, eight playoffs are going to be played to the floor with the pedal.
“There are a lot of less fun things this year, but we can’t complain about the rise of hostilities,” Poyle said. This is very good for hockey. ”
There may be different styles of hockey in the divisions. First, there will be no fans in the Canadian arenas, and in the United States, there will be at least 4000 spectators at the beginning of the series.
“We’m not used to playing in front of fans,” said Winnipeg Jets forward Nate Thompson. In a protected environment (last summer), each team had to create their own pace. ”
There is no safe environment at this time and the NHL has quietly relaxed pandemic protocols for each team, seeing to it that 85% of its travel unit members are vaccinated. Players and coaches know, however, not to look too far.
Associated Press Journalists Teresa M. Walker, Aaron Bard and Tim Reynolds also contributed to the article.