NHL Season Back Underway



Edmonton’s budding star, Connor McDavid

By mid-October, the NHL season was already in full swing. This year’s NHL season will feature several rule changes, top draft picks, and three outdoor games.

Rule Changes

A rule that has been implemented this year by the NHL is the coach’s challenge. Coaches can now challenge goals that have been disallowed or allowed because of a potential offside or a goalie-interference play. Once a coach issues a challenge, the referees on the ice take a look at a replay on a tablet and interpret the need to change the call. In order to challenge a play, a team must not have used their timeout. The timeout is restored if the challenge is successful. Coaches can challenge an unlimited number of plays given that they haven’t used their timeout and that they haven’t wrongfully challenged a previous play.

Over the summer, the NHL decided to change the regu- lar season overtime system. If the score is tied after the regulation period, teams will no longer play four-on-four but rather play a five minute three-on-three overtime period. This change is to decrease the number of games decided by a shootout.

A minor rule that has been changed this year is the faceoff rule. Last year, the visiting team’s player was required to put his stick down first. This year, the defending player will be required to place his stick down first except at center ice. The rule change is designed to give the offensive player an advantage, which will subse- quently lead to more goals.

The Top Two Draft Picks

With the first overall pick in the 2015 Draft, the Edmonton Oilers selected Connor McDa- vid, a center of the Erie Otters. During the 2014-2015 OHL season, McDavid scored fortyfour goals and had seventysix assists. McDavid is off to a rough start in Edmonton. Through his first four games, McDavid has only scored once, a plus/minus rating of -5, and a low 24.2 faceoff percentage. Despite this weak performance by the 1st overall pick, McDa- vid will begin to gel with his line mates and start creating offense with his speed and acceleration. The Oilers need to focus on transitioning from their defensive zone in order to feed their scoring beast. On countless times, the Oilers were caught transitioning from their defensive zone and ineffectively turning over the puck.

Jack Eichel, the second overall pick in the 2015 Draft, has been a more productive than his counterpart so far. In the NHL, Eichel has scored two goals (one was a game win- ner). Eichel’s playing style is completely different than McDavid’s. Eichel is a player who always wants the puck on his stick.

Unlike Eichel, McDavid is willing to be a dynamic team player, even if it detracts from his talent. In order for McDavid to succeed, it is imperative that he learn when to call for the puck and use his speed to his advantage. But soon McDavid will begin scoring goals and show why he was the 1st overall pick in the 2015 draft.

Outdoor Games

For the 2015-2016 season, the NHL has scheduled three outdoor games. This season’s Winter Classic will be played between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens. These two teams will play outdoors at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. What makes this game interesting is the combination of an outdoor game and a storied rivalry. Even though the Winter Classic counts as a regular season game, there will be a playoff atmosphere in the cold winter air at Gillette Stadium.

The other two outdoor games are the Stadium Series games, which the NHL introduced in 2014. The first Stadium Series game will be held at TCF Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Gophers football team, between the Minnesota Wild and the Chicago Blackhawks. The Colorado Avalanche will play the Detroit Red Wings at Coors Field for the second Stadium Series game. Some believe that having two Stadium Series games detracts value from the Winter Classic game, but it actually creates more opportunities for NHL fans to view an outdoor game.