Back in August and September the buzz of the draft and free agency was winding down. It is then time for the next phase of rookie camps and scrimmages. This gives the next wave of players a chance to show the coach their skills and what they can bring to the team following that, the next step is the senior players joining them. That is when the hard calls are made. Who goes back to juniors or the minors or even gets released to free agency?
Ultimately the prize is a job with the big team to compete in the National Hockey League.
It is at that moment where every player dreams of being able to hoist the Stanley cup trophy above their head and celebrate a dream come true. Ultimately not everybody can make it that far. As the season unfolds it can become more apparent to certain teams that a rebuild and re-stock for next year is necessary.
Then, you board the emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows, bumps and bruises. Eighty two games, thirty teams become sixteen and make it to the next stage; the big dance aka the Stanley cup playoffs. I’m sure that the players think back to the previous fall when they were in training camp dreaming of this day. They see how far they have come and what they have achieved as a team.
They can now use that as motivation to move onto the next round and perhaps even further. My own advice is to just play your natural game and take it one period at a time. You try do much more and you risk becoming complacent to say the very least. Perhaps some rookies in your lineup are experiencing this for the first time or maybe there are some veterans in the locker room who have reached this stage before but never gotten a chance to lift the cup until now. Each player leans on each other in the locker room. There are always leaders both young and old on the team not excluding the coaches and staff that got them to this moment.
The first round comes with the match-ups based on the final standings of the regular season. This match-up involves sixteen teams, eight from the western conference and eight from the eastern conference.
The NHL bracket challenge comes out where fans predict the results in terms of teams advancing and how many games it took for them to get through to the second round. Fun for the fans but ultimately a chance to win some awesome prizes.
I don’t think anybody could have predicted this year. I cannot recall the last time it was so hard to gauge the playoffs because of the speed and talent of these teams on a nightly basis.
The one thing that has blown me away as always are the fans. Hockey consistently has the best fans in the world and this translates into the games that are sold out on a nightly basis. However the best part is to see all the fans outside the arenas that are so happy to be there and to cheer on their respective teams.
There is no venom when it comes to fans as it’s all in the name of sportsmanship, having fun and ultimately wanting their team to get that all important win. I genuinely don’t like to see teams being swept in the Stanley cup playoffs but based on some of the results so far it will be tough for certain teams to respond.
This was proven last night with the Anaheim Ducks defeating the Calgary Flames in the Series. The Flames outshot the Ducks most nights so ultimately it came down to the skill and performances on the night. A great season by the Flames as they turned the season around from their slow start, they have a lot to be proud of.
While there is a lot to focus on for the players and fans that are in the Stanley cup playoffs there is also a lot going on for the teams who missed the chance. In particular for the teams at the lower end of the rankings. Based on their finishing spot they have a shot at the first overall pick in the 2017 draft the all-important draft Lottery. For those unsure of how this works I will do a quick run through of what this means.
Basically finishing last in the standings doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get the best pick for the next draft. However it does give you the highest chance of winning it.
Let’s take the four teams who finished last this season plus one who is entering the league for the first time ever as part of the expansion draft (more to come on that later).
- Colorado Avalanche finished the season with the lowest point total and has an 18% chance at getting the first overall pick.
- The Vancouver Canucks finished second lowest their chance at getting first pick is 12.1%.
- The new team the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the Arizona Coyotes both have the same chance to get first overall with 10.3%.
- Lastly the New Jersey Devils have an 8.5% chance.
If they miss out on the first then they get a chance for the second and third. The other teams based on their standings will set the remaining running order of draft picks. All fourteen teams that did not make the playoffs including the new expansion team have a chance to get the first overall pick.
However the chance for the New York Islanders who finished highest out of this list is 0.9%. Not the greatest odds. It can be confusing but there is some great information available online here
It is thrilling if your team is in the top four or five. You start to wonder how general managers will shape their roster with the picks and players they currently own as well as with potential draft picks.
There is so much to discuss at this time of the NHL season and a busy few dates ahead post Stanley cup.
This has been my first dip into the blogging world I will be launching a more in depth site in June which I will keep you posted on through the ABNT twitter page.
I want to thank Hazel and Chasing the Puck for giving me this opportunity. It was a lot of fun and make sure you continue to check out her awesome work for Chasing The Puck.
I want to hear from you! If there is something you like or want to see or perhaps something you didn’t like let me know. There is no such thing as bad feedback. I will be posting a lot as the weeks go on both on twitter and the new site when that gets up and running. As always from the bottom of my beard, thank you for reading.
Griffin AKA The Beard.
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