x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

NHL season plays out differently than expected

So just how did all those pre-season warnings about the compressed, 48-game NHL schedule play out? By the looks of things, those of us in the prognosticating business weren't so brilliant. Gregg Patton explains.

Mark Streit, right, and his New York Islanders teammates surprised fans and proved experts wrong after reaching the play-offs despite starting the shortened season poorly.
Mark Streit, right, and his New York Islanders teammates surprised fans and proved experts wrong after reaching the play-offs despite starting the shortened season poorly.

So just how did all those pre-season warnings about the compressed, 48-game NHL schedule play out?

By the looks of things, those of us in the prognosticating business weren't so brilliant.

First, there was the widespread theory that teams that fell behind early in the season would have trouble making up ground.

Don't tell the Washington Capitals, New York Islanders or the defending champions Los Angeles Kings, all of whom slipped out of the gate but rallied back to qualify for the post-season.

The corollary was that a fast-start was as good as money for a run at the play-offs.

Not necessarily.

Six weeks into the season, Carolina, Nashville and New Jersey all were sitting fairly comfortably in the play-off picture. As it turned out, there was plenty of time for them to tank their seasons.

And injuries?

If you lost key people for even a few games, supposedly you were doomed.

No one suffered more than Ottawa.

Top scorer Jason Spezza and defender Erik Karlsson, the 2012 Norris Trophy winner, missed most of the season, and top-tier goalie Craig Anderson missed half. Don't look now, but the Senators will be playing next week.

Finally, with so many games crammed into the calendar, a second goalie was a must. Not really.

Six of the seven goalies who logged at least 40 games will be in the post-season.

In the end, the short season was short only on a good crystal ball.

 

sports@thenational.ae

 

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