The Western Hockey League introduced a new playoff format in the off-season that will see the top three teams in each Division make up the first 12 teams in the playoffs.
The remaining four spots will be filled by the next two highest-placed teams in each Conference, based on their regular-season record and regardless of Division.
It is possible for one Division in each Conference to send five teams to the postseason while the other Division sends just three.
The WHL also has a number of rule changes this year, including teams switching ends at the start of overtime.
The league experimented with a dry scrape of the ice between the end of the third period and the start of overtime in the pre-season but, ultimately, it was not approved to continue into the regular season.
Other rules changes to be aware of include:
- banning of the 'spin-o-rama' move for shootout attempts.
- a tripping penalty being assessed when a defending player 'dives' and trips an attacking player, regardless of whether first contact was made with the puck.
- faceoffs remaining in the offensive zone even if the attacking team causes the a stoppage in play IF the team is attempting to create bona fide scoring opportunities.
All and all, the changes are the same as those implemented by the National Hockey League this season and, generally speaking, are a continued attempt to create more offensive opportunities.
Other rules to watch for early this year include the 'tuck' rule that took the NHL by storm early last season coming to the WHL.
It means players are no longer allowed to tuck their jerseys into the back of their pants.
The league also handed out misconduct penalties to some players during the pre-season not wearing their mouth guards properly.