The truncated regular season is in the history books, and the real season has started.
The Stanley Cup playoffs bring 16 teams a chance to make a legitimate claim toward a championship. Critics may point dismissive fingers at the eventual champion because the qualifying season was reduced from 82 to 48 games, but hockey players know that they have to pay a huge price to survive and advance.
The first week of Stanley Cup hockey was noted for defense, goaltending, clutch scoring and tension.
The latter is a key ingredient in all postseason sporting activity, but it seems to be in greater supply in the NHL than it is in the other major league professional sports.
The drama has already started to play out, and there have been a number of noteworthy developments in the first week of action.