Thank the hockey gods, the Stanley Cup will have a home in June.
The NHL lockout had many of us convinced that, for the second time in eight years, Lord Stanley's eternal contribution to the sport would sit in the Hockey Hall of Fame, touched by no one in the sport for a full calendar year. But thanks to the league and the NHLPA coming to an 11th-hour negotiation, hockey has returned in full force.
The Cup will be kissed. The names will be etched. The legend will live on, uninterrupted.
With teams one month into the new NHL season, we are beginning to see who the favorites to capture the prize will be.
For much of the NHL, simply having a well-rounded team is not enough this season. A shortened year means a condensed schedule, limited practices, no training camp and fewer days off.
These are all challenges that every NHL team faces equally, but the unique circumstances give an advantage to certain teams.
Teams with a plethora of new faces, no matter how talented, seem to lack the chemistry they could have been building since September in a normal year (case in point, the Minnesota Wild).
On the other hand, opportunistic, high-powered offenses are more important than ever. Sloppy play in the defensive zone can result in a multitude of scoring chances for faster teams with the firepower to pepper netminders with shots.
Young teams can bounce back more easily in back-to-backs, but being too young means lacking the fine-tuning it takes to compete at the NHL level.
This year more than ever, we see that the older teams are too old, the younger teams are too young, time to build a team is a luxury no franchise has and bold, sometimes rash decisions need to be made to round out the squad.
Here are the six teams who seem to have an added advantage against their opponents in this chaotic hockey year.