Drop the talk about placing an asterisk next to this year’s Stanley Cup champion. Many players consider this year’s postseason to be among hockey’s most grueling tests. Aside from having 24 teams competing starting Aug. 1, players should be at their healthiest after four months of rest.
This year’s champion could also be required to win 19 games, as opposed to the traditional 16, because of the addition of a preliminary round. As New York Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck put it, one of the toughest trophies to win may have just gotten even harder.