Sandwiched in between Tuesday and Thursday without hockey was a loaded 14-game slate on Wednesday. With 28 teams suited up, surely there would be at least a couple great games and that proved to be the case.
With 14 games on the schedule, it is expected to be a solid day regardless of the perceived quality of the matchups. But the NHL treated the fans with heavyweight matchups like Golden Knights-Stars, Canucks-Avalanche, Bruins-Panthers, and Rangers-Hurricanes among others.
As we spend Thursday with loved ones and secretly anticipate an even larger 15-game slate on Friday, here were a few standout games and takeaways from Wednesday night's action.
. Approaching the first full month of the season, there were still questions whether it was sustainable or whether it was lightning in a bottle to start a year. At the Thanksgiving holiday, it looks to be the real deal.
After a 6-0-0 start of the season, the Avalanche hit a bit of a rough patch. Despite that, they are in a playoff spot. Unless they completely spiral, a team with Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, and Mikko Rantanen should should make the playoffs rather comfortably once again. If Vancouver is going to crack the postseason and make a run, they may have to deal with Colorado at some point.
Wednesday's head-to-head match-up between the Canucks and Avalanche was just what fans would hope for. A fast paced, close game from start to finish. Clean hockey reminiscent of a playoff game is exciting and refreshing in November. Wednesday was just a taste of what a 7-game series could look like between these teams.
Sure, this is not exactly original considering it could be copied and pasted from above. But Dallas-Vegas was Western Conference Final just this past spring. There is a very real chance they could meet once again for the right to go to the Stanley Cup Final.
The reigning Stanley Cup-winning Golden Knights have picked up this season right where they left off when hoisting the cup. They do just about everything right and are a force to reckon with once again. But so, too, are the Stars.
Dallas leads the Central Division and is just 3rd in the Western Conference. They too have played stellar hockey and are just a deep, tough team. There is no reason Vegas or Dallas should miss the playoffs and it could be fireworks if they meet again.
In overtime of a 1-1 game, the Golden Knights brought home the victory on Wednesday.
With that, Vegas and Dallas are 1st and 3rd in the Western Conference respectively. A 2-1 game that went beyond regulation further reflects the tough matchup these teams are for each other. If Wednesday was any indication, we should hope for a playoff rematch.
The Eastern Conference is much deeper than the Western Conference. Beyond the four teams mentioned above, add in the Kings as real contenders and that might be it. In the Eastern Conference, there are 14 teams that realistically could battle for eight playoff spots.
Wednesday night was a great example of how they are just beating up on themselves.
Detroit shut out New Jersey 4-0 in a badly needed win. The Devils now sit 13th in the Eastern Conference. That position is unacceptable for a team of New Jersey's caliber, but they are expected to ascend. Meanwhile, the Rangers shut out the Penguins are a fringe team. With that, Pittsburgh sits 11th in the Eastern Conference while the Rangers remain ranked 2nd.
In another playoff rematch from last year, the Bruins beat the Panthers 3-1 in what was a physical, fast game, full of bad blood and a razor thin margin of error. Elsewhere, Washington beat Buffalo who has struggled to put it together but has high upside.
All of those games have implications on a plethora of other teams beyond their own. The Eastern Conference will be fascinating and entertaining to watch unfold all season long. Wednesday was a prime example of what we have to look forward to out East as this season progresses.