Gary Bettman shared his hopes of preserving an 82-game season on Tuesday, revealing that such a thing could happen if it all began on Nov. 2.
While it’s important to note that a final schedule would likely present some tweaks to the current plans, PHT probed existing ones to see which teams might get off to great (or rough) starts.
Let’s start off with a few teams who could enjoy early gains
The immediate start isn’t too promising with back-to-back road games against playoff teams (Philadelphia, then Ottawa). Still, the streaky Ducks could take advantage of a six-game homestand before the pendulum swings the other way.
Detroit Red Wings
What would have been a four-game road trip is whittled down to just one away game (and the start of a home-and-home series) with the Edmonton Oilers. Including hosting the Oilers, the Red Wings will then enjoy a five-game home stand and seven of eight games at Joe Louis Arena.
(Not a bad way to start the post-Lidstrom era.)
Los Angeles Kings
The defending champs can raise the Stanley Cup banner during a three-game home opening run while their overall start includes seven out of ten games at the Staples Center. It gets a little rocky to end the month, but maybe their “hangover” will be gone by then.
After alternating home and road games, the Flyers play five of six in Philly. Only one of those teams (Ottawa) made the playoffs last season, although Minnesota did make big off-season changes. They do finish the month with the first three games of a five-game road trip, so they must seize an early opportunity to collect wins.
They begin the season with four of their first five games at home, play one more road game and then get three straight contests at the Phone Booth. That’s a friendly start for first-time head coach Adam Oates.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.