The end goal remains the same in a 48-game season as it does in an 82-game season. The mindset for getting there is what's different now.
"You know how during a season you have the beginning and it's all excitement, then you get into the dog days, then things ramp up again for the playoffs," Minnesota left wing Zach Parise told NHL.com. "Well, now it'll just be ramped up the whole time."
The sprint to the Stanley Cup Playoffs begins Saturday when 26 teams play the first of their 48 games this season. Ninety-nine days is all they'll have to earn a playoff spot. There are no preseason games to work out the kinks, no time to waste.
"It's amplified now," ex-Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko, who experienced the 48-game sprint in 1995, told NHL.com. "It's a big challenge for the coaches to get guys to gel and find that chemistry right away, more so than in an 82-game season when you can go through your prolonged slump.
"The L.A. Kings can't do what they did last year. They might not make the playoffs."