We are now closing in on the 20 game mark of the NHL schedule. Usually a point in the season that teams have had time to feel out their lineups have some time to evaluate if their talent and how they match up against other teams.
This season is of no exception, however after a year off it is of even more importance. Many pre-season favorites have fallen from early grace, eg. The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Some have taken this time to prove the nay Sayers wrong, like the Detroit Red Wings and the Carolina Hurricanes and Montreal Canadians. Others have just been as advertised, looking at the Ottawa Senators and the Philadelphia Flyers.
In the early part of the season teams have had to make many adjustments, new rules have had to be adapted and adopted by both players and coaches. Rule Changes/ actual enforcement of rules have proved to be of utmost importance. Players have lost the ability to stifle the talent and creativity of the elite players though the "clutching and grabbing". Goaltenders have had to adjust to new size changes in equipment as well as the dangers of playing the puck in the "forbidden zone". Coaches now have to work just that little bit harder to try and defend against the offensive explosion, as well as focus even more on special teams.
And what do all these things have in common...not a whole lot of complaints from either side, and that is terrific! The game has opened up, ties have been eliminated, shootouts have proved to be compelling, even if very few games have reached that point( with the vast majority of games being settles during regular or overtime play).
Fans, at least in Canada have embarrassed the return, and well, the US is the US and it will be a long time in the making for it to reach any standing south of the boarder, if it happens at all.
At the very least it is nice to see that things are progressing, and that is really all we can ask for right now.