Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 01/19/13 at 10:29 AM ET
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
The abbreviated 2013 NHL season finally begins Saturday afternoon. And it’s gonna be a good one.
Make that really good. The 48-games-in-99-days, intra-conference schedule isn’t just “better than nothing.” This impossibly compressed timeline actually magnifies the importance of every moment, every slump, every streak, every injury. With so much on the line and no margin for error, it even makes an Islanders game worth watching. On a Tuesday. In February.
We can make that call another day. In the meantime, the short-track race to the playoffs begins now. Here’s what to look for when the puck drops this weekend. (SI.com’s NHL crystal ball)
Intensity: Forget the apparent foot-dragging during the labor negotiations. If anyone was itching to see the end of the lockout more than the fans, it was the players. For most of them, the last few months meant extra chores around the house, spirit-crushing hours in the gym and avoiding contact in half-speed pickup games with their buddies. To a man, they’re ready to get their noses dirty and take out their frustrations on anyone wearing a different color sweater. It won’t be playoff level nastiness, but it’ll be close.
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