So this is February.
(Takes a look around.)
Looks a lot like January, doesn’t it?
It’s going to be shorter, we know that, and that might also be the month when the NHL really starts to envy the NBA.
You may recall both leagues are going with abbreviated regular seasons this year. The difference: The NHL is having the whole regular season played inside its divisions, and it put out the full schedule at the beginning of the season. The NBA is playing across the whole league, but it only put out half the schedule to start.
Both leagues (surprise, surprise) have seen games postponed because of COVID-19, which has resulted in situations like the Vancouver Canucks, going into play Saturday, having already played 10 of their 56 games while the Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers have each played only four.
The team that has suffered the most so far is the Panthers. They haven’t had any COVID problems themselves, but teams they were supposed to play, like the Stars and Carolina, did, which forced postponements of Panther games.
What all of this means is teams like the Stars and Panthers will end up with even more condensed schedules as they try to make up the postponed games so they can finish the season.
The NBA, meanwhile, has started making up a few of its postponed games, but it has the luxury of reworking the second half of the schedule, which will be released near the end of this month, to accommodate the missed games.
I kind of suspect by the end of the season the NHL will be wishing it had done the same thing. I mean, the Canucks and Ottawa Senators just got through playing three games in four nights against each other, which is not something you would ever see in a ‘normal’ season, but it probably won’t be the last time it happens this season.
And with games to make up as the season goes along, the league has already indicated it and the Players’ Association have discussed the possibility of teams playing three games in three days.
The good news, if you can call it that, is that for the American teams in the NHL, there aren’t any cross-country trips that will have to be made up. Their three divisions are basically north-south corridors.
But we’ll check back in about a month, when the NBA releases the second half of its schedule, and see how things look then for the two leagues.