Five Storylines For The NHL Post-Olympics

It’s almost sad to say, but Olympic hockey is now behind us, with Canada having won gold quite emphatically. The plus side, of course, is that it’s back to NHL action for hockey fans, and it certainly looks as if we’re in for a thrilling home stretch leading up to the playoffs! So just to get everyone properly prepared and excited for the games to come, here’s a look at five major storylines for the rest of the NHL campaign.

The Upcoming Trade Deadline

In its own article on upcoming storylines, the  Yahoo Sports  section notes that every year fans tend to get too excited for the trade deadline, expecting enormous deals and ultimately being disappointed by relative inactivity. This year, however, there are a few cases for an active deadline. The two most significant indications that this year could be wild are as follows: first, there are enough playoff and Stanley Cup contenders that many teams will be looking to take that last step toward success in the form of a trade. Second, owners and GMs just had an extended break during the Olympics to plot and discuss potential deals. We’ll just have to wait and see if action follows expectation.

The Search For A Favorite

For this late in the season, it’s remarkable that we have nothing even resembling a runaway favorite. There’s a lot of hockey left to be played, so such a team may well emerge, but as of now the race for the 2014 Stanley Cup appears to be wide open. The  Anaheim Ducks  have the league’s best record as of this writing, but the pack is right at their heels, so naming them favorites may be a bit of a stretch. To put things in perspective, as of the conclusion of the Olympics, 22 teams have records above .500 (for 16 playoff spots of course), and 10 teams have accumulated 70 points or more. This paints a crowded picture for both playoff qualification and favorite status, and should make for an extremely exciting home stretch!

The Olympic Boost

This is a concept it’s difficult to analyze or discuss in a statistical sense, but we’ve seen before that players in various sports can receive a bit of a boost after playing in an Olympic event. The confidence surge that can come after performing well for one’s country can certainly continue into NHL play, and this possibility should make it fun to watch our NHL stars who participated in Sochi. Will Jonathan Quick keep his game at the incredibly high level we saw when the U.S. played Russia? Will T.J. Oshie reach new levels of stardom? Will Alex Ovechkin redeem a poor Olympic showing with a run of NHL dominance? Only time will tell.

The Devils’ New Sponsorship

In news unrelated to hockey but still with the potential to have an enormous impact on the NHL fan experience,  Partypoker reached a sponsorship agreement earlier this year with the New Jersey Devils and the Prudential Center that will not connect NHL and online poker fan experiences in multiple ways. The partnership can only work as currently constructed in New Jersey, where online gambling is legal. But for fans who care deeply about their arenas, it will be fascinating to watch just how tangible the impact is on Prudential Center activity, as legalization for online gambling (and therefore potentially similar partnerships) are likely on the way for the rest of the U.S.

Playoff Newcomers

Finally, it will be fun to see which teams that were absent from the postseason in 2013 can squeeze into the playoffs this year. In the East, Tampa Bay looks likely to get back to the playoffs, and Philadelphia, Columbus, and even Carolina all have legitimate shots as well. In the West, Colorado, Dallas, and Phoenix are all fighting for playoff spots. Certainly there aren’t enough spots to go around for all of these newcomers, but a few will undoubtedly get in and provide us with some fresh faces for the  2014 playoffs!

About Chris Wassel

Simply I am a hockey writer who is a jack of all trades. Whether it is draft, fantasy, NHL, KHL, AHL, etc...I probably can write about it. The challenge in hockey is to be able to step out of your comfort zone and write like you are still there. Hopefully you enjoy the humor in the writing on the site and tell your friends. Thanks for reading!