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Lydia Cruz’s 2 Minute Minor: 3 things for NHL Seattle fans to watch

The NHL Seattle team will play in same division as both Edmonton and Calgary. (AP)

Welcome friends to the Two Minute Minor, a new weekly hockey segment on 710 ESPN Seattle’s The Blitz dedicated to the greatest show on ice. Whether you’re new to the sport or a lifetime devotee, TMM is a meeting place for future Seattle NHL fans to indulge their excitement and anticipation for the city’s future team.

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For our inaugural installment ahead of opening day of the new NHL season, we keep it simple by taking a look at three things Seattle NHL fans should keep tabs on this season.

Watch the Pacific

First, keep your eye on the Western Conference, in particular the Pacific Division. The NHL Seattle team will call this division home when the puck drops in 2021, and it is never too early to start developing irrational disdain for teams you will likely see four times a year.

Set your DVR for games featuring the Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks and Vegas Golden Knights. The Arizona Coyotes will remain in the Pacific Division only until Seattle NHL enters the league, when they will migrate to the Central Division, so they are less of a priority. Consider that extra credit at this point.

Known rivalries already exist in the Pacific, some based on geography (Calgary vs. Edmonton in the Battle of Alberta and Anaheim vs L.A. in the Freeway Face-Off) and others based on deeper-seated cultural clashes. Start learning your future foes now.

The Canucks begin the season in Edmonton on Wednesday night, while the Golden Knights host the Sharks (hint hint).

Line combinations and top six skaters

NHL Seattle fans should also follow basic line combinations and top six skaters.

Teams can have up to 50 players under contract for a given season, but just 23 on their active roster. On game day a team can dress up to 20 players, 18 skaters and 2 goaltenders. If you start to get a feel for how teams formulate their forward trios (left wingers, centers, right wingers) and defensive pairings, you’ll be able to understand more about a team’s identity as well as their in-game strategy.

I check DailyFaceOff way too often throughout the season.

The salary cap

Finally, make some time to research hockey contracts and how teams distribute this season’s $81.5 million dollar salary cap. A large sect of hockey analytics is dedicated to limiting bad free agent contracts or avoiding them entirely. Websites like PuckPedia and CapFriendly break down team rosters based on contractual obligations.

Make note of which players have no-trade or no-move clauses. Those are relevant details to know when Seattle’s expansion draft comes around and protected players come into play.

Bottom line: Have fun with hockey this season. Follow teams, learn the stars, enjoy the unparalleled fast pace of the game. Catch a live hockey game any time you can. Seattle’s NHL team will be here before you know it.

Catch new installments of Two Minute Minor live every Tuesday on The Blitz with Lydia Cruz from 6-7 a.m.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Lydia Cruz on Twitter.

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