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It's finally time to say goodbye to the offseason

Tuesday, 09.21.2010 / 10:05 AM / Columns

By Paul Kukla - NHL.com Correspondent

Tuesday, 9/21, New Jersey Devils vs. Philadelphia Flyers, 7:00 PM LIV

That's all I needed to make my day Monday.

When I received the NHL Network media release Monday, listing all the NHL preseason games they would be broadcasting, my mood certainly became much brighter.

I know what I will be doing at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday and I imagine many of you will be doing the same thing. Our game is back, and very soon the games will be counting in the standings.

In the meantime, this is a good time to evaluate many of the players we are not familiar with. Some teams will give these players valuable ice time in order to see how they perform in certain situations and I will be interested to see how well they do.

 
Other teams will be trying to build a winning atmosphere during the preseason. Those teams will be trying to win as many games as possible and that type of play is always fun to watch.

Veteran players need to get their timing down while some of the younger players will want to make a good impression on the general manager and coaches who will determine the direction their career is headed.

Whatever the reason, I will be watching.

I am not sure why, but this offseason sure has gone by slowly. Much too slow for my liking, but I am now bouncing on the balls of my feet, knowing my game is back in the forefront. Soon all the things that went on off the ice will become a thing of the past and my attention will be directed toward all things on the ice.

Some people have asked me if the preseason games will be a reflection of what the season will hold for certain teams. My answer is no, but we still can enjoy these games. What I do is key on certain players, keeping an eye on them while they are on the ice.

Normally you can't do that during the regular season, as most of the time our eyes are following the puck. At this time of year, though, I would suggest you follow a few players while they are on the ice.  How well are they anticipating the play? Do they panic and just get rid of the puck? Or do they make a good hockey play? Your answers to these types of questions will tell you something about the player you are watching, and soon you will be doing more of the same with other players. Soon enough you will have a better understanding of the players you are following.

The first few games of the preseason may see sloppy play, but that is to be expected. Heck, most players have been on the ice for only a few days. But as we get closer to the real drop of the puck in early October, the play will progress as the players get back in their comfort zone.

All I know is I am so thankful the season is about to begin. Many people enjoy the opening of spring training games in baseball because it means spring is near and warm weather is approaching. I, on the other hand, feel this is a great time of year, too.

Hockey is in the air, the crispness of fall weather is right around the corner and even better, we won't know what teams will make the Stanley Cup Playoffs until sometime in March or April, 2011. 

Enjoy these preseason games, which will prepare us for the NHL regular season. Hockey is back and you should be bouncing on the balls of your feet, too.

Have a question, comment or just want to talk hockey?  Email me at pk@kuklaskorner.com or follow me on Twitter.

Playing for my favorite team growing up, I've probably scored that goal a million times in my driveway. It feels good to actually do it in real life.

— Dale Weise, who grew up a Canadiens fan, on scoring the overtime winner in Montreal's 5-4 victory against Tampa Bay in Game 1