by Brandon Busuttil
With the NHL season underway, a lot happened this off-season but all teams have the same goal: make the playoffs and win the almighty Stanley Cup. So, how have all those off-season moves and predictions been looking after the first few games into this NHL season.
I think it is important to start with the new overtime format. Instead of the 4-on-4 overtime format, that resulted in only 35% of games tied after regulation ending in overtime, and the rest of the 65% of tied games ending in a shootout; the NHL has decided to move to a 3-on-3, 5-minute overtime format followed by a shootout. Overtime periods just got a lot more exciting. With a lot of ice and some of the most talented NHL players in that open space, you can expect a lot more overtime goals, and that is exactly what happened. The excitement about a game going into overtime has gone way up, and now has fans watching with large rushes of adrenaline. The NHL definitely got it right with this overtime format change.
Mike Babcock has moved on from the Detroit Red Wings to the Toronto Maple Leafs. It can easily be determined Babcock gave up success with the Red Wings for a lot more money and a much bigger challenge. The Detroit Red Wings is one of the most renowned teams in the NHL making the playoffs 24 years in a row. Now with a rookie head coach, Jeff Blashill, can the Red Wings keep it up or will they crumble? With the amount of talent Detroit has, along with the fact Blashill coached the AHL affiliate team of the Red Wings the Grand Rapids Griffins to a Calder Cup trophy (much of those players he coached are now playing for the Red Wings), I think the team will be in good hands. Blashill follows a system very similar to Babcock, and if it is truly similar to Babcocks, that means the team will stay successful. So far into the season it has been proven that the Red Wings are exactly where they left off with Babcock, continuing to be successful with two goaltenders whom are good enough to both be starting.
The Toronto Maple Leafs on the other hand, are still struggling. To put this team in perspective, their first line players would be on a third line at any decent NHL team. It will be interesting to see what Mike Babcock can do with this team, but I would not expect a quick fix. Babcock has been signed to a 8 year deal to see if he can be the magician to change this Leafs team around, and it is predicted that it will take a long two or possibly three seasons until we hear of the Maple Leafs making noise in the NHL. This has proven true because the Leafs have continued their losing woes in this 2015-2016 NHL season.
The last big story-line that is looked at is: what is the deal with the Chicago Blackhawks? Coming off of a Stanley Cup championship, can Chicago do it again? Unlikely. They lost some key players due to free agency and trades, but they will still be a force to be reckoned with considering their star players that have stayed are going to make up for the lack of those whom left.
Overall, it should be a great and interesting season this year, filled with some great goaltenders all looking to make a name for themselves and some trying to keep their name as one of the best in the game right now. We have top-notch rookies such as Connor McDavid, whom is compared to Sidney Crosby when he entered the league. Lastly, we have teams that could make a push to be a force this year such as the Florida Panthers, whom have come out this year with a lot of determination and force.
Look for an exciting year of hockey, and one that will probably be filled with the unexpected.