- Associated Press - Thursday, January 17, 2013

The lockout that lasted 119 days has ended, the new collective bargaining agreement is in place and the NHL is finally about to play games again after hastily arranged weeklong training camps around the league. Here are 10 questions and answers about the upcoming season:

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1. What’s the potential downside to teams playing 48 games in 99 days?

Injuries! The NHL is a physical game, with separated shoulders and pulled groins as prevalent as power plays and glove saves, not to mention concussions. Less time to rest will put the players at greater risk of getting hurt.

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2. Has this kind of condensed schedule been used before?

Yes. The 1994-95 season was delayed by a lockout, too. After 48 games, New Jersey surged through the playoffs and won the Stanley Cup with a four-game sweep of Detroit in the finals, riding a young goalie named Martin Brodeur, a deep group of forwards and a creative coach in Jacques Lemaire. The teams that can minimize injuries, keep all four lines cohesive and fresh, and get consistent play in the net will fare best in this whirlwind season.

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3. What might be more interesting than usual, with this shortened season?

The playoff races. Since the NHL started giving out standings points for losses in shootouts and overtimes, the competition for those eight spots in each conference sure hasn’t fallen off. With fewer games, there’s simply less time for struggling teams to drop out of the chase. Shootouts in particular will play an even more pivotal role in the season.

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4. Can Los Angeles repeat as Stanley Cup champion?

Why not? The Kings are deep. They’re confident. They have an exceptional goalie in Jonathan Quick. Staying healthy will be key. Leading scorer Anze Kopitar slightly injured his knee last week in Sweden and could miss a couple of games.

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5. Is this the year a Canadian team will end that title-less streak north of the border?

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