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Parity reigns as NHL pauses for American Thanksgiving – NHL on CBC Sports


Erik Gudbranson seems on the standings nearly each day.

Sure, it is only November, however it is by no means too early to start out occupied with the playoffs and spot which groups are atop the department standings.

“Every single point matters,” the Vancouver Canucks defenceman stated. “You want to stay with that group.”

For greater than a decade, the standing of that team at Thanksgiving has been a vital indicator of who will get to stay enjoying past mid-April. Since the wage-cap technology started in 2005-06, 78.four in keeping with cent of groups in playoff place via the fourth Thursday in November have made it. It’s so notable that it is regarded as the NHL’s unofficial Thanksgiving rule.

In maximum years, the image solidifies in mid-November and a median of 12-13 playoff groups are all however set via Thanksgiving.

Parity abounds

Not such a lot this season, the place there are 12 groups separated via 8 issues within the Eastern Conference and 12 groups separated via 5 issues within the West, making the races too as regards to name at Thanksgiving.

“With the parity that’s in the league nowadays, I don’t know if that rule really applies anymore,” Calgary Flames winger Troy Brouwer stated. “Usually at some point a few teams break away from the pack and the rest of them, because of the three-point games and everybody’s playing so many divisional games, you never really gain a ton of ground on a team or lose a ton of ground on a team unless you’re continuously losing divisional games.”

Led via Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, the Tampa Bay Lightning are some distance away the most productive within the East, whilst the duo of Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn has the St. Louis Blues atop the West. The Toronto Maple Leafs are gifted and the Los Angeles Kings are off to a perfect get started, however there don’t seem to be too many groups on the quarter mark that may really feel too assured about making the playoffs.

“It’s pretty well a .500 league right now,” Washington Capitals trainer Barry Trotz stated. “The teams that have a little more depth like Tampa, who is in a good window, and St. Louis and probably L.A. … they’re the only ones that have really pulled away from anybody. The rest of us are right all there.”

Salary cap, agenda possible components

A reasonably flat wage cap over the last few seasons and the growth draft that crammed the Vegas Golden Knights with the most productive roster for a primary-yr franchise in historical past have served to degree the ability discrepancy round hockey.

“There’s not much separation between teams,” Pittsburgh Penguins centre Riley Sheahan stated. “The salary cap makes it a tough league to play in.”

But this is not on the subject of the cap, which has been round 13 seasons. A large number of inter-convention play early is one concept for such a lot of groups being packed in combination.

“We haven’t even started playing in conference, in division games,” winger Wayne Simmonds stated after he and the Philadelphia Flyers performed 17 in their first 22 video games in opposition to the West. “I think that’s where things will start to separate. When everyone’s playing the Western Conference or maybe different divisions, the separation you don’t see as much.”

It’s going to be tricky going for remaining-position Buffalo and Arizona to make the playoffs and an uphill climb for will have to’ve-been contenders Montreal and Edmonton. The Thanksgiving rule could also be moot for this yr, however a brutal get started is hard to dig out from.

“You can’t make the playoffs in November, but you can knock yourself out,” veteran Capitals defenceman Brooks Orpik stated. “It seems like even when you’re down four points at the end of the year, the games get so much tighter and there’s more three-point games, it seems like, toward the end of the year. Teams are playing a lot more defensive and safe. It seems like it’s easier to pile up points now than it is to try to catch up at the end.”

No one’s achieved but

It’s no longer unattainable, even though, as the 2007-08 Capitals are certainly one of 38 groups to get it achieved after having a look like they are cooked. They fired trainer Glen Hanlon on Thanksgiving Day, changed him with Bruce Boudreau and went from eight-7-6 to a Southeast Division name.

Boudreau, whose Minnesota Wild are 13th within the West however simply two issues out of a playoff spot, does not suppose a lot in regards to the Thanksgiving rule.

“If you look at it as this is a truism and you’re not in at that time, you have a tendency to [think], ‘Aw man, we’re not going make it,’ and I don’t want anybody on our team thinking along those lines,” Boudreau stated. “But it’s going to be close.”

It’s so shut that whilst Sheahan stated you’ll be able to “start to drive yourself a little crazy” via focusing an excessive amount of on stats and the agenda, there are not any promises. Half the playoff groups became over from 2015-16 to 2016-17, and of the 16 groups in place now, seven did not make it remaining spring and one did not even exist.

The standings are packed, such a lot that one victory or one loss can shuffle them like a deck of playing cards.

“It gives you that extra incentive to be ready every single night,” Gudbranson stated. “You have to be when you can gain one extra point and jump from 10th in the West to a solid wild-card spot — and vice versa, it can go the other way.”


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