Ed Willes: From layoff to playoff, NHL’s made-for-TV exercise is one big unknown

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“It’s a different situation we’ve never been part of. (Usually) you battle through a whole season then you go into the playoffs. Now you’re kind of going from training camp to playoffs. I don’t know if the intensity will be there right away.” — Veteran Canuck defenceman Alex Edler

The NHL regular season might be exhausting and unforgiving but, whatever else it is, it provides all the necessary information to prepare for the post-season.

At least it usually does.

I mean, after 82 games you have a pretty clear idea of where your team stands in relation to the rest of the league, its collective strengths and weaknesses, and the strengths and weaknesses of individual players. Yes, there are variables in that equation and the script doesn’t always play out according to form. But there’s no hiding from the unrelenting 6½-month grind. Inevitably, it will expose who you are.

Then there’s this season.

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