In a non-traditional term, in a different format and again in a kind of bubble. But most important of all, it still starts. The NHL will launch another annual traditional sticker competition tonight – the best in the world. Also with Slovak hockey players.
Changes are usually made when something is dull. If interest wanes and needs to be revived. However, this is not the case. The overseas competition was dressed in a new dress under the pressure of circumstances.
North America has been hit hardly by the coronavirus, the previous season is late and the new one will start late. Instead of 82 doubles in the basic part, each team will play only 56.
Bubble here, bubble there, last year the teams finished only in two places – in Edmonton and Toronto. The players were locked up in hotels for two months and knew nothing but their room and ice rink.
Conditions will be relaxed this time. Hockey players will live at home, but don’t expect traditional life without restraint. The teams will be regularly tested and grouped into four new divisions.
During the basic part, they will only meet each other. And so, for example, it will happen that viewers will see up to ten exciting battles for Albert between Calgary and Edmonton or a nine-part series of traditional rivals of Montreal and Toronto.
The Rangers and Islanders will face each other eight times in the New York derby, and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in the Pennsylvania derby.
What does that actually mean?
That the absolute rivalry of hated opponents will be the order of the day in the NHL and the basic part a kind of extended elimination part.
“It will be 56 playoff meetings. It’s exciting for the fans and it will be fun for the players as well. The rivalry will move to a level we have never had before, “said NY Islanders General Manager Lou Lamoriello.
Chara changed his jersey
The four divisions of the NHL have been composed on the basis of regional affiliation. So that the teams do not have to travel a lot. The Northern one, for example, will be created exclusively by Canadian participants in the profile and will only play among themselves.
The top four from each division will advance to the playoffs. However, they will continue only in mutual matches, the winner of another division will meet the winner in the semifinals.
“We’ll see a lot of tension during the season, but that’s the way it is when you play against someone nine times,” said NY Rangers coach David Quinn.
“I’ll probably spend more time on the bench than ever before,” added Nick Foligno, the captain of Columbus.
The NHL is known for tough fights, and in the coming months it will probably only dampen its reputation.
Zdeno Chára does not avoid physical contact either. The oldest player of the competition took care of the biggest transfer bomb between the seasons. At the end of the year, he announced that he was leaving for Washington.
Although they offered the popular veteran in Boston an extension of the contract, they no longer guaranteed him enough time on the ice.
“It’s something I had to try. I did not want me to regret one day for not taking this opportunity. I am extremely motivated, I look forward to a new chance and new challenges, “he said after the transfer, which connected him with two other Slovaks – Richard Pánik and Martin Fehérváry.
The forty-three-year-old defender has not had a long training in the US capital. First, he had to be quarantined in a seven-day hotel, and he was on the ice with new teammates among the last. However, he did not seem to be idle.
“Of course, I missed the ice and my teammates. But I also worked at the hotel to stay in shape. I’ve done two workouts in the last twelve hours, so I feel good and I’m sure it will only get better, “he said last week.
And it wasn’t bad faith. After all, he scored right in the modeled duel. Congratulations to the star Alexander Ovechkin immediately skated to him. By the way, it’s a Russian who has a captain’s cap on his team. Chara wore it for years in Boston.
Fight for a place
In Washington, he will create a defensive wall with 30-year-old Nick Jensen. However, coach Peter Laviolette has not yet revealed whether this decision is final.
“We have already formed some pairs and we don’t want to change it all the time. I wonder how they will do. We will analyze it and see. “
Jensen also praises the cooperation with the Slovak defender, who emphasized Chár’s character: “It is a great experience to play with a player who has been in the league forever and has had many important matches. However, you will quickly get used to it on the ice. Plus, it’s very communicative, so it’s not a problem. “
According to the latest reports, Chara will be in the opening formation of Washington together with the Panik, who fought his way into the third attack.
The young defender of Fehérvára will be missing – the team will either send him to the farm in the AHL, or keep him in the so-called “Taxi” line-up, a reserve for the needs of a quick profession of a player to the first team.
Only thirteen Slovaks got to the shortened camps before the start of the season. It is by far the lowest number of players from the Tatras in the history of independence that has ever reached the preparation period. Due to an unconventional situation, several talented young men went directly to lower competitions.
Apart from Chár and Pánik, only Tomáš Tatar (Montreal), Jaroslav Halák (Boston), Erik Černák (Tampa Bay) and Andrej Sekera (Dallas) have a certain place in the line-ups. The trio of Martin Marinčin (Toronto), Tomáš Jurčo (Las Vegas) and Christián Jaroš (Ottawa) were placed by the clubs on the waiver list on Monday, from where they could be downloaded by other teams in the next 24 hours.
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