The NHL’s 2020-21 coronavirus-altered, regular-season schedule is far from ideal. But it is enticing. American teams will not face 24 NHL clubs and Canadian franchises won’t play 25. The Avalanche and the West Division’s seven other teams won’t face an Original Six opponent. And make no mistake, playing the Blackhawks, Red Wings, Bruins, Rangers, Maple Leafs and Canadiens is always special. But the NHL’s temporary move to all inter-division games in small series for the regular season is bound to add some Original Six anger to the mix. The league grew from six teams that hated each other, forging rivalries that still exist to this day. The same-opponent repetition breeds emotion, and feeding that emotion in a small series is what the NHL normally lacks. Yes, the NHL has its seven-game playoff series, but only 16 teams get to that point. Regular-season series of any length should become a staple of the game.NCAA hockey and many junior leagues play weekend series against the same team. The NHL’s feeder league, the American Hockey League, often does, too. What happens the first night often carries over to the next. And the physical nature of the game breeds contempt. I’ve covered enough University… Read full this story
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