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Which teams would have an edge in a shortened season?

Dec 30, 2012, 10:52 AM EDT

Kings Oilers Hockey AP

At this point the only remaining alternative to the season being canceled is a condensed schedule of, most likely, 48 games per team.

Louie DeBrusk knows what that’s like from his days with the Edmonton Oilers in the lockout-shortened 1994-95 campaign.

“There are going to be some players that have let their guard down just a little bit,” DeBrusk told Sportsnet. That’s particularly true of guys that haven’t played in another league during the work stoppage.

In a 48-game season, any rough patch has the potential to sink a team, so getting out of the gate quickly will be critical. To that end the Edmonton Oilers might have an edge if the season is salvaged.

“Obviously biased a little bit,” DeBrusk admitted, “but you have to understand that they have a young nucleus that are all playing. Your best players high-quality hockey and meaningful hockey right now and when things turn around — if they do — and they go back to work, these guys will be ready to step right in and have an impact, so they’re going to be tough out of the gates.”

Because the Oilers’ core players are so young, most of them were eligible to play together in the AHL and the one noteworthy exception, Nail Yakupov, found work in the KHL instead.

For the most part though, DeBrusk thinks it will be the veteran teams that benefit, especially the ones that had long, grueling playoff runs. The Los Angeles Kings seem like an obvious addition to this category.

The New York Rangers are also noteworthy given that they made it all the way to the Eastern Conference finals and the lockout has provided Marian Gaborik with plenty of extra time to recover from his shoulder injury.

Of course, we’ll never find out if those teams end up excelling under these unique circumstances unless the NHL and union come to an understanding in the not too distant future.

Related:

Lemieux on shortened season: “The games were all like playoff games”

  1. haroldkahoney - Dec 30, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    hopefully the team that plays best to empty arenas. (in a perfect world).

    • desertfan - Dec 30, 2012 at 4:55 PM

      With all Canadian teams virtually “sold-out” with season tix forget the BOYCOTT theory.

      On Jan 14? 15? or ?? Tor,Van,Mon,Ed,and Wpg will be FULL of Nhl fans.

  2. greej1938l - Dec 30, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    this is all speculation…no way to know unless it happens. no advantages anybody

  3. atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 30, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    Calgary is annually dreadful in November and December, since we’ve skipped over those maybe we’ve got a shot?

    As for Mark Spector’s beliefs that the Oilers are the favorite cause they’ve been playing together, that’s only 4 of their players and while they might have an advantage for the first 10-15 games once the other teams get their legs back and get some practices together they’ll quickly catch up to the Oilers.

  4. johnnyresults - Dec 30, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    how about the caps!? they’ve never had the misfortune of enduring a long run to win the cup so I imagine they’ll be well rested!

  5. bcisleman - Dec 30, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    October and November have been season killers for the Isles the last fewso that may help. Having Vis will also benefit them. If the season goes south he and Nabby will be very good trade assets.

  6. ron05342 - Dec 30, 2012 at 12:18 PM

    The Kings did not have a “long, grueling playoff run.”

    It was short, dominant, and it should easily benefit them in a shortened season.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 30, 2012 at 1:27 PM

      It’s long in the fact that they played two extra months, and for a west coast team there’s the added travel. No doubt the few extra months of rest benefits them.

      And that’s not taking anything away from them because yes their run was dominant.

  7. zetaone - Dec 30, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    In my opinion it would be a dark horse team like the Kings last year (even though they were picked to win before the season by many). The Oilers came on strong towards the end of the year and had pretty tight games, many 1-0, 2-1 wins. Maybe one of the PA teams, if they ever figure out their defense/goalie problems.

    /shrug

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 30, 2012 at 1:30 PM

      The Oilers are still 1-2 more drafts and free agent cycles away from being serious Cup contenders…still too many holes. They should be in contention for the playoffs whenever the next season takes place, and being there will be a huge step in the learning curve for them.

  8. dutchman1350 - Dec 30, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    Another huge factor will be goaltending. Teams with a good back up will have an advantage, as they will see a lot of games with a compressed schedule.

    • martysbetter - Dec 30, 2012 at 2:06 PM

      As a Devils fan, this is what worries me having a goaltending duo who will both be in their 40s by season end.

      It took Marty a while to get going last season, it will be interesting to see how the layoff effects him…if we have a season of course.

    • danphipps01 - Dec 30, 2012 at 5:26 PM

      At the same time, teams with goalies who were top-notch for a high volume of games last year (Rinne, Lundqvist, guys like that) will be that much more dangerous in a short season. Twenty-five fewer starts will only leave guys like them even more on top of their game.

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