Roughly 12 games played per team, or a quarter of the way through the 48-game season, we can start to see some things shaping-up.
Rivalries run deep – Everyone enjoys a good rivalry, which in a normal season length, is spread out a bit. Yet with the condensed season, it seems like they are almost every other day. Teams are fighting hard for tough-to-come-by points and it is enjoyable to watch. In addition, new rivalries are forming because of the frequency of playing the same teams, which as a hockey fan, we can only hope carries into season to come.
That team again? – While rivalries are fun, on the other hand, seeing the same match ups over and over is not so much fun. Everyone likes a little diversity, and not seeing the other Conference is beginning to take its toll. Major markets like the Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks are unfortunately, not helping out their opposite conference opponents. The absence will most likely negatively impact some revenues for teams that rely on such appearances.
It is not the coach – The Washington Capitals are off to an absolutely horrendous start, going just 3-8-1 for 7 points in 12 games. They have turned over two head coaches in the last year and new head coach Adam Oates is not faring too well. With turnover that high you have to start looking at your players, with one coming to mind. Superstar Alexander Ovechkin has long been rumored to be the cause of the problems, but with 8 points in 12 games, maybe he is not the problem. Then again, the saying is defense wins championships, and his -4 rating is not that great.
It is still too early – While some teams are tanking, and other teams are doing quite well, it still is too early to count anyone out or in the playoffs. A team can easily string together some wins as well as have a losing game stretch. So, for fans on either end of the spectrum, no sense being too arrogant, and no sense in giving up hope yet.
Day and night – The condensed schedule is fun from a fan’s perspective with a lot of games on each night. From a player’s point of view, however, they have to be tired. Playing three games in four nights has to be exhausting, and it shows in their play. One night your favorite team can look real good, while the next they look like they have forgotten all the basics. It would be interesting to see if anyone could compute the probability of ending points based on a their schedule in relationship to games played in a given period of time compared to their opponent’s schedule for any given night. You would figure a team that has had a few days off fares better than a team who has been playing more recently.
Foolish fans – The lockout was most unenjoyable as both the owners and the players disregarded the fans wants for a full NHL season. Fans voiced their frustrations, with many vying to never watch a game again. Well, after looking at the reaction to hockey’s return, it is safe to say the NHL is doing just fine. Sure, there probably are some fans who have stuck to their guns and opted to avoid the NHL. For those who could not resist returning, that is OK. Hockey is a passion, it is difficult to go on without it, you just were a bit silly in overreacting is all.