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It's the time of the season for hockey; Tampa Bay Lightning versus Detroit Red Wings preview

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The 2016-17 NHL season officially begins tonight for the Tampa Bay Lightning as they once against square off against an Atlantic Division foe they oustead from the playoffs last season.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

This is.... This is awkward.

The fact it's the start to 2016-17 is a tad awkward; blame the World Cup of Hockey for the delay to things. Oh, and I do mean delay -€” the previous World Cup of Hockey ended on September 14, one day before NHL training camps were set to begin. This one? The one in 2016? It didn't truly come to an end until nearly October.

That's not the awkward I'm focused on here though, ladies and gents. No, no, it's the fact the Detroit Red Wings first opponent of the regular season is the team that bounced them from the 2016 NHL playoffs in five games played.

It's awkward, it's peculiar, but it's not exactly game six of the series, is it?  I mean, the first round of the 2016 playoff was in April.... It's been just a bit of time between games, now hasn't it? Then there's the fact the actual rosters have changed just a bit between now and then.

Yeah, it has changed In Tampa.  Line combos are shifted and Ryan Callahan is not going to play tonight or a while yet as he recovers from hip surgery. Braydon Point starts his full pro rookie season with the Lightning, playing on a third line with the likes of Vladislav Namestnikov and Valtteri Filppula. That's not a bad tandem to start your career with but third line duties aren't exactly the top of the expected lamp-ligthters in an NHL game.

Expected; that doe3sn't mean it doesn't happen.

Yet while the likes of Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson (who is Good at the HockeyTM), Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman and Ben Bishop continue in their positions and roles with the Bolts, things shift for the Detroit Red Wings. In that regard, it's a new club coming to 401 Channelside Drive tonight to play against Tampa Bay. Oh, sure, there are standards for the Wings still very much in place (Henrik Zetterburg, Dylan Larkin, Justin Abdelkader) but Pavel Datsyuk and Kyle Quincey are gone. In fact, it's a true time of transition for Detroit as it's also going to be the last season the team plays at Joe Louis Arena.

Transition may be happening, but that doesn't mean that Detroit can't play as it stands. Being the first game of the season for both clubs, though, does add a degree of hype and weight to the contest. In that regard, this does have the weight of game six of the playoff series between Tampa Bay and Detroit.

The game outcome isn't going to eliminate either from the playoffs, though. At least I don't think so... There are 81 more games to be played after tonight. It, the game, just starts the story that is the process of becoming for both clubs. Becoming what?  That's to be determined on the path forward.

How awkward and peculiar the outcome o the game ends up being is also to be determined, but I'm guessing it's just the repetition of nemesis that's awkward.