It’s been more than 135 days since the NHL played a game — and the world changed.
Though it’s hard to imagine all of the things each of us have been through (and are still going through) since the start of this global pandemic hit our lives, the return of sports can provide a bit of a reprieve of sorts. Amidst plenty of valid criticism and questioning of whether it is even right to be holding sports when North America largely still doesn’t have COVID-19 under control, the NHL, at least, has done fairly well in containing the spread amongst its players. There were no positive tests among players in the week leading into the travel to the hub cities, a promising sign if the league wants to actually pull this entire postseason off.
The trick will be keeping it that way, of course.
It looks as though the players have plenty of amenities to keep them busy in the bubble, even if the WiFi could use a little help in the Dallas Stars’ hotel in Edmonton. Assuming they didn’t bring the virus into the bubble with them, the NHL has a good chance at being able to continue the tournament within the hub cities unimpeded. It’s still a big “IF”, but there’s reasons to be positive that the safety and health of all involved will be maintained as they set out to win the Stanley Cup in probably the weirdest circumstances we may see in a long, long time.
They’ll kick off the return to play with three days of exhibition matches, starting this afternoon and going through Thursday, when the Dallas Stars will take on the Nashville Predators. Each team gets one exhibition before the games count, so these won’t be your typical pre-season-style games.
Each day of the playoffs, we’ll be posting a thread of the day’s schedule of games and the match we’ll be paying particular attention to in the East and the West.
There are three games to choose from today, enough for you to be able to watch hockey nearly back-to-back from 3 PM CDT onwards:
- 3:00 PM CDT: Pittsburgh Penguins vs Philadelphia Flyers exhibition game (NBCSN)
- 7:00 PM CDT: Toronto Maple Leafs vs Montreal Canadiens exhibition game (NHL Network)
- 9:30 PM CDT: Edmonton Oilers vs Calgary Flames exhibition game (NHL Network)
If you do not have cable these days, nor access to be able to stream these networks, you can purchase access to NHL.TV with all the exhibition and first round of playoff games for $4.99. Blackout restrictions still apply, so consider carefully where you’ll be watching from and what games you want to watch before purchase. Note that the Stars’ seed-round games will be broadcast locally on FSSW, so if you live in the FSSW footprint you’ll be subject to blackouts on the NHL.TV for those games. However, if you want to watch hockey all day long (and what hockey fan doesn’t after such a long pause before the playoffs), five bucks isn’t a huge barrier to be able to watch some other matchups between Stars games.