Time to look at 2021?

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The Stanley Cup Playoffs, to this point, have been great.

The hockey has been entertaining given these unforeseen circumstances. It hasn’t looked like the players had five months off in between games.

The hub bubbles have also worked. The NHL reported Monday that zero positive tests returned from 5,640 administered last week. How the NHL has been able to make this work is quite remarkable, and commissioner Gary Bettman should be applauded for the efforts he and his staff have made.

But for all the three-goal comebacks and five-overtime games we’ve seen in the playoffs to this point, one can’t help but begin to think of next season and what’s going to happen.

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That’s the beauty and curse with so many games happening all at once. Four to five games a day sounds like heaven, and it’s certainly been blissful to this point. But with these games going in rapid succession, the days turn quickly.

Before we know it, it’ll be the end of September and we’re watching the Stanley Cup Final. Then it’ll be the NHL Draft, a condensed offseason and the 2020-21 season will be right around the corner.

But what’s going to happen by then?

The NBA is in just of an interesting predicament as the NHL. The Athletic reported last week that the NBA is considering a four-city bubble for next season. How to split 30 teams through four bubbles sounds like a scheduling nightmare. Depending on travel guidelines, it sounds like the NBA is confined to playing certain opponents rather than a full schedule.

While there haven’t been reports on something similar for the NHL, it’s time to start thinking about the possibility of next year, especially if Bettman wants a full season. How close 82 games is a reality to that is unforeseen, but we have to wonder what the NHL will do in this instance.

Until the coronavirus is somehow contained, covering games remotely and doing interviews via Zoom is going to be the way to go. With that, does the NHL stay in Canada for the foreseeable future? Do the teams stay confided in Edmonton and Toronto, with their families finally coming from the States to provide a sense of normalcy? Does the NHL add two bubbles in the U.S. to loosen restrictions?

These are things that haven’t been discussed yet that need to be soon. While it’s great to have hockey now, the unknown of what’s to come makes it uneasy. We’re reassured to have hockey in some capacity next season, but how is the big question.

For now, let’s all do what we can to enjoy the highly competitive hockey we’re getting now. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are always one of the most fun times of the year. Even in the sweltering August days, it’s still fantastic.

Thursday

Stars vs. Flames: This will be Game 6 of a series that is a complete toss-up. Calgary should be up 3-1 right now, but Dallas has found a way to stay afloat thanks to a big overtime win in Game 4. I still don’t trust Dallas’ offense to perform on a consistent basis. No matter what happens in Game 5, I’d expect the Flames to not sizzle out. FLAMES

Friday

Canucks vs. Blues: Have the champs finally found their form? After a rough round robin and losing the first two games, St. Louis is back in it after tying their series on Monday. Two things to consider: the Blues’ momentum, and the under being a likely possibility. Jake Allen has brought some stability to this series. BLUES

Last week: 3-0

Season: 40-36

About the Author

Danny Webster

Danny Webster is an NHL columnist at Gaming Today. He is a graduate of UNLV whose work also appears on NHL.com, Vegas Hockey Now, and SB Nation.

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