Let’s go Oilers.
The NHL will officially kick off the post-season in just a few days but they’ll test their systems tonight as the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames engage in an exhibition Battle of Alberta. Edmonton is one of two host cities–the other is Toronto–hosting teams from its respective conference as the NHL qualifiers and playoffs get underway. Edmonton will also award the Stanley Cup.
Both cities have created tightly controlled “bubbles” that will host only teams and appropriate personnel. Daily COVID-19 testing is part and parcel of the operation and players are forbidden from leaving the bubble until their team is eliminated. The bubbles contain everything from their lodging to their practice facilities, decked out lounge areas to fitness facilities, and the arena proper. This process is much more strict than what MLB has put in place – a likely explanation for their multiple outbreaks thus far.
Spectators aren’t permitted for the games so the NHL is tarping off lower bowl seats, adding additional cameras (and improving the shots they can offer viewers at home), and decking out the arenas with massive screens to help create home atmospheres for teams that aren’t the Oilers and Leafs.
For the home broadcast, ESPN reports that “EA Sports supplemental crowd noise” will be provided, flavouring each broadcast with the unique sounds of the respective home arenas. EA is known for meticulously gathering sounds from all of the arenas around the league, providing a unique taste for the respective teams, and that’ll be paired with the NHL’s soundscape from past broadcasts, and fan submitted sounds–including some boos–to enhance the experience.
The NHL playoffs are set to begin this Saturday. The game between the Oilers and Flames doesn’t affect the playoff race.