The wait is almost over. August 1. The #StanleyCup Qualifiers. Take it away, Doc Emrick. @NHLonNBCSports pic.twitter.com/ufacFvje78 — NBC Sports (@NBCSports) July 30, 2020
Whip out the lotion and tissue paper cause hockey is back. We’ve waited 142 days for real hockey and Doc is right, we no longer have to wait. In the past 48 hours I’ve watched 9 exhibition games and over 72 I’ll have watched 12 games, and on Saturday the real action starts. These exhibition ones don’t even matter and we’re getting fights in the bubble. Just wait till the games really matter.
The fact that the first fight of the Bubble didn’t happen during the Battle of Alberta is shocking pic.twitter.com/hupGQORPYq — Frosty Talks (@Frosty_Talks) July 29, 2020
The Battle of Alberta was intense, Avalanche vs Wild was intense, The battle for New York was intense, pretty much every exhibition game felt and looked like a game that mattered and I don’t expect anything to change for the three games today. Come Saturday NHL fans will be watching games that matter, the greatest playoffs of all sports, the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Like Doc said, it’s a different year, 24 teams are vying for the right to hoist Lord Stanley, but the intensity won’t change. The excitement won’t be diminished. It’ll look different sure, but all the fun of Stanley Cup Playoffs remains.
It’s been a roller coaster of emotions while hockey has been gone. Fans and myself went from having all the hope in the world that the NHL and sports would return, to no hope at all week after week. As time winded on the NHL did what some leagues couldn’t. They put together a safe and smart plan for the return to play. Now the hard work of Gary Bettman, the owners, the NHLPA, and everyone involved in negotiations have paid off. The players, coaches, and all staff have entered the bubble, no new cases have been reported, exhibition games have been played, and we are officially days away from puck drop.