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Since every game is so much more important in a 48-game season than a normal 82-game schedule, we should see lots of regular-season games with playoff-like intensity.
We already saw evidence of this over the weekend during both Philadelphia Flyers games. The Penguins versus Flyers season opener didn't have any fights, but the players on both teams were treating the game like a playoff matchup. The same could be said of the Flyers and Buffalo Sabres game on Sunday.
Just earning a point isn't going to be enough for a lot of teams. The extra point won in overtime and in shootouts could make or break a team's playoff chances this season.
If the Calgary Flames were better in shootouts last season, they probably would have made the postseason, and the Los Angeles Kings' Stanley Cup run may not have happened.
Expect the majority of this year's regular-season games to have the level of intensity, physical play and excitement often found in the NHL playoffs.
For teams that are fighting for a No. 8 spot in the final weeks of the season, every remaining game will have the importance of a playoff game. This is going to make the month of April amazing for all hockey fans.