Were this a standard NHL season, most teams would still be feeling their way eight days into their 82-game schedule. But the four or five games already in the books for most clubs are a lot bigger percentage of this season's 48-game schedule -- magnifying the importance of each game and giving teams much less room for error.
The compacted schedule has meant fewer practices and off days, no out-of-conference games and a big jump in intensity -- a three- or four-game losing streak means a lot more when the schedule is more than 40 percent shorter than usual.
It's tempting to think that the alterations teams have had to make to cope with the shorter schedule have affected the way the game is played. But a comparison of the 64 games played on the first eight days of the new season with a similar number of games in 2011-12 shows fewer differences than some people might think.
Here's a comparison of the opening stages of this season with the start of the last one: