A year ago, the NHL was in the middle of a whirlwind. The lockout-shortened season had barely ended and the Sochi Olympics and six outdoor games were on the horizon.Last year was a season like no other, commissioner Gary Bettman said.When Alec Martinez scored in overtime to win the Stanley Cup for the Los Angeles Kings and the league faded into summer, the ice chips settled. Now well into an era of labour peace and two years away from the likely return of the World Cup of Hockey, theres nothing interrupting each team playing 82 from Oct. 8 through April 11.The last couple years have been crazy, Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask said. Playing that shortened season, shorter off-season and really compact season with the Olympics. It was kind of a long year and a half and now a really long off-season and a regular season. Things are back to normal, I guess.This is, indeed, a regular season in the strictest definition of the phrase. There are no glaring problems facing a business with $4 billion in revenues, and things are going so well that the rampant expansion rumours wont go away even as Bettman insists the NHL isnt ready to look in that direction just yet.A new Canadian television-rights deal should result in the salary cap rising next summer, and the health of the league is perhaps as good as it has ever been.The game on the ice has never been better, Bettman said. Its never been more competitive, more entertaining, more exciting, more unpredictable, and everything we do starts with that. We have a system that gives us stability and gives all teams an opportunity to compete, which is why we see such competitive balance.Calm waters all around mean theres not a crisis, but it doesnt mean the landscape is boring. In the Western Conference, the Kings and Chicago Blackhawks each have two championships over the past five years and havent shown any signs of going away.In the process of those duelling dynasties developing, the West is in the midst of an arms race to keep up. The Dallas Stars went out and got Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky, the Anaheim Ducks got Ryan Kesler and the St. Louis Blues got Paul Stastny.The Stars had one of the busiest off-seasons and are a team to get excited about. But given the stiff competition are they even one of the best three or four teams in their conference?I think we get lost under the radar because there are some powerhouse teams in the West, Dallas centre Tyler Seguin said. Teams are only getting better, and a lot of guys and top-end guys from the East are coming over and playing in the West. I think its a lot of fun.The fun in the East is that no ones untouchable and pre-season prognostications dont matter. Again the Boston Bruins are the favourites, even after losing Jarome Iginla in free agency, but the Montreal Canadiens, young-and-talented Tampa Bay Lightning and ever-changing Pittsburgh Penguins could just as easily go to the Cup final.Of course last year the New York Rangers showed they could make a run, too.Its about getting hot at the right time, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said. First thing you need to get in, but after that its about peaking at the right time.The 2013-14 season was a test of endurance, specifically for the likes of Lundqvist, Martin St. Louis and the Kings Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter, who all went to the gold-medal game at the Olympics and then to the Cup final. The Rangers and Kings also each played hockey outdoors last year as part of the NHLs Stadium Series.In 2014-15, only two of the 1,230 regular-season games will be outdoors: the Winter Classic at Nationals Park in Washington on Jan. 1 between the Blackhawks and Capitals and one Stadium Series event Feb. 21 at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., between the Kings and San Jose Sharks.Cutting down from six outdoor games to two wasnt just a matter of preventing too much of a good thing, according to Bettman, who said theres still plenty of interest from cities to host in the future.Everybody wants one, Bettman said. What happened, though, this year, when we were looking at doing games, the games have gotten so big our clubs that are interested want more lead time. There were teams that didnt want to go this year. They said, Well take a game, but make it the following year because we want more lead time.Future outdoor games could be coming to Toronto, Winnipeg and Minnesota. But the Maple Leafs, Jets and Wild will have to deal with 41 indoor home games this season.Among those games, the lack of an Olympic break will allow for a more normal schedule without as many back-to-backs and stretches of three games in four nights.The biggest thing is the rest days, the time between games, the time between travel, former Canadiens captain and current Buffalo Sabres forward Brian Gionta said. Everyone looks at it and theyre like, Its a game a week difference, but it makes a big difference in your travel, it makes a big difference in your practice time or your rest time.After that 48-game condensed schedule after the end of the lockout in 2013 and 82 sandwiched around the Olympics last year, players hope a return to normalcy also means fewer injuries and better quality of play.Itll be nice to practise and work on things, New York Islanders winger Kyle Okposo said. You can really get back to a normal schedule. Thatll be big for everybody, hopefully enable us to stay more healthy than we have. Were excited for kind of a normal routine.Normal, though, is relative and could be short-term. The league and the NHLPA could as soon as this month announce plans for the return of the World Cup of Hockey in 2016, and theres still hope that players go to Pyeongchang, South Korea, for the 2018 Olympics.Thats a concern for down the line, when prospective top picks in Junes draft like Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are blossoming NHL stars and not just prizes for the leagues worst teams. The Sabres and Calgary Flames can dream of that, but Bettman is glad that playoff hopes are the new normal almost everywhere.What we have in competitive balance now is unprecedented in our history and maybe for any sport, he said at a recent Canadian Club luncheon. Its more important that no matter what team you root for, you feel at this time of year, Boy my teams got a shot at the playoffs, and as weve seen the last few years once you make the playoffs anything can happen.---Follow @SWhyno on Twitter Fake Yeezys Boost . PAUL, Minn. Fake Yeezys Outlet . Still, its a start. Josh Baileys goal with 1:40 left capped a furious third-period rally, and the Islanders edged the Penguins 4-3 on Friday night. http://www.fakeyeezysforsale.com/fake-yeezy-boost-350-v2/. The Brazilian-born strikers brace drew him level with Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo as the leagues leading scorers with 17 goals apiece through 16 rounds. "The important thing is to help the team win, not the goals," Diego Costa said. After a first half dominated by defence, Atletico pressed Valencia into its area and Diego Costa did the rest. Fake Yeezys From China . Josh Mazzola drove in five runs to lead the Goldeyes (20-12) past the Capitales 11-5 Friday night at Le Stade Municipal in Quebec City. Wholesale Fake Yeezys . And yet as they left TD Garden amid the slush and snow of a winter storm on Thursday evening, there was a sense among the Leafs that they had finally stood toe to toe with their long-time bully, only to fall just short.CORK, Ireland -- Graeme McDowell birdied four of his closing eight holes to join two-time runner-up Robert Rock in the lead early on day two of the Irish Open on Friday. Both players shot 5-under-par 66 to move to 8 under for the tournament in superb scoring conditions at the Fota Island course. McDowell, looking to win the Irish Open for the first time, birdied three holes in succession from his 11th, and birdied his 15th. It was his lowest 36-hole tally on European Tour in 15 months, since he was 11 under en route to a tie for third in last years Cadillac Championship at Doral. "My game still requires some work but I feel like as I play my way into the summer, I feel my golf swing, my short game, and my putting is starting to get stronger," he said. "So I am a feel player and Im a guy that needs to spend time on the golf course with a card in his pocket to see where hes at. "And coming offf last weeks U.dddddddddddd.S. Open, pressure and expectations are not as high this week, and I feel very comfortable." Rock was also feeling at home. Five years ago in Baltray, Rock lost to then-rookie Shane Lowry in a playoff. Rocks only consolation was Lowrys amateur status meant he had to forfeit the 500,000 euros first prize cheque. A year ago, Rock was joint runner-up in Dublin to fellow Englishman Paul Casey. "It is more to do with the time of year (for me), as I played well at the start of the year but then struggled, and your confidence takes a bit of a bashing. But then you work hard and I seem to start to play well again and it all turns around," he said. Italys Marco Crespi (67) and Englands Matthew Nixon (65) shared third place in the clubhouse on 7 under. Overnight leader Mikko Ilonen of Finland, who set a course record with his opening 64, teed off in the afternoon. ' ' '