It’s a little surreal. We’re still not used to the sight of empty stadiums and canned crowd noise. We’re not complaining, though. The NHL Playoffs begin on August 1st and we couldn’t be happier. Now, that’s not to say we’re not concerned. This could all go south if infection breaks out inside the bubble, but so far, so good. And there’s still a lot of issues that the league needs to deal with from a PR standpoint as is evidenced by the #Kneel4Hockey hashtag on Twitter yesterday showed. The league still doesn’t seem to get it when it comes to issues of race and inclusivity. Mere words are not enough. Action, real action and education to ensure that players and fans, whether they are BIPOC, LGBTQ+ or just simply not white males need to be made to feel like they are truly welcome when they say Hockey Is For Everyone. And while this is an issue that won’t be fixed overnight, we’ll continue to support the voices calling for change.
The day starts with the Carolina Hurricanes taking on the New York Rangers at 9 am in Toronto at Scotiabank Arena. After that, it’s over to Rogers Place in Edmonton as the hometown Oilers take on the Chicago Blackhawks at Noon. An hour later in Toronto, the puck drops as the Florida Panthers take on the New York Islanders, followed by the Montreal Canadiens doing battle with the Pittsburgh Penguins at 5pm before we head back to Edmonton to wrap up the evening as the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets face off at 7:30 pm.
As is tradition around these parts, there will be daily open threads for the duration of the playoffs (with separate game threads on Canucks game days for the length of their stay at the dance), for you to hang out and enhance your game watching experience. Let us know how you’re watching the game today: Got a special brew picked out? Snacks? Grilling up something special? Tell us about it. We missed this, and we missed you. It’s a great day to watch some hockey, folks. Enjoy the games!