Players watching the beginning minutes of the first NHL game in a couple of months marveled at the familiar feeling from half a continent away.
Vancouver’s Tyler Toffoli said that not necessarily laughing but just noticing how intense it was right away.
Hockey hasn’t missed a beat if the first game is any indication.
The most unusual playoffs in the history of the NHL got underway Saturday with games in three Canadian cities, including Toronto, Edmonton, and Alberta. The dynamics are much different than normal: It’s the middle of summer and all games are being played in empty stadiums.
But the big hits and fight from Game 1 offered ample evidence that the Stanley Cup is still on the line.
Carolina’s Jaccob Slavin carved his name into history after making the first NHL goal ever scored in August. His teammate Justin Williams fought Ryan Strome several minutes later, and the Hurricanes took a huge step by taking a 1-0 lead in their best-of-five qualifying round series.
The Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks picked right up with 5 goals scored in the first 13 minutes of their Game 1 in Edmonton.
At Scotiabank Arena, the first dozen or so rows are covered in white and gray tarp, with the league shield on four of them as well as Toronto in all capital letters on another four.
Above them are electronic banners with NHL logos and a TV viewing platform at center ice, all of them are limited to the benches side of the ice. These electronic banners will have team logos and videos of each team’s fans chanting.
On the top banner of the video scoreboard are the slogans: “#WeSkateForBLACKLIVES.” Minnesota’s Mathew Dumba made a pregame speech in Edmonton on behalf of the Hockey Diversity Alliance and some other Black players.
Dumba kneeled during the U.S. anthem, with Black players Darnell Nurse and Malcolm Subban standing with a hand on each of his shoulders.