With Covid limiting the abilities of teams travel the NHL came up with new divisions that will reignite old rivalries and spark new ones.
Who is Playing Where?
To help combat with the travel restrictions placed upon the NHL due to COVID-19 they created four new divisions. New Rivalries are coming along with them. New divisions and the limited travel mean familiarity will breed contempt among teams having to face each other many times this season. North, West, Central and East are the new names of the divisions. All divisions but the North contain 8 teams. With the North containing all 7 Canadian Teams. In the West we see Anaheim, Arizona, Colorado, LA, Minnesota, San Jose, St. Louis and Vegas. Central is sporting Carolina, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Nashville and Tampa. The East holds claim to Boston, Buffalo, New Jersey, Islanders, Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington.
What should we expect from these new Divisions?
Personally I could not be more excited at what is coming to us in this abridged NHL season. With a shortened 56 game schedule, the league hopes of having a normal ending before the NHL entry draft and the addition of the Seattle Kraken next year. Along with this shortened season comes a marathon that most teams are unprepared for. Case in point, the Battle of Alberta will be played 10 times during the regular season. The East, Central and West will all play each team 8 times during the season and the North will all play each other 9 or 10 times. Taking on a MLB style schedule playing multiple games in a city at once is also new for the NHL this season.
Who has the toughest Road to the Stanley Cup?
From a quick glance we can all see that one division is loaded with most of the talent in the league. The East division also known as the MassMutual division, is replete with most of the previous Stanley Cup contenders. Being the new home of 5 of the top 10 Eastern conference finishers the East is going to be the ultimate gauntlet to get to the Finals.
Arguably the second strongest division and the only division supporting teams from both the Eastern and Western Conferences. Home to the defending Stanley Cup Champions the Tampa Bay Lightning the Central division will allow us to see old rivalries reignited like Tampa v Chicago and will hopefully bring us new ones too. The Central division is also home to the most playoff teams from last season.
The Honda division is the closest to resemble any of the old divisions looking like the old Pacific division. Supporting the most teams to miss the playoffs hosting only 3 teams to have made the playoffs last season. Here we wont get to see many new rivalries but hopefully the old ones can be reignited with new vigor and intensity getting to face each other more times. Hopefully we wont see a boring cake walk for St. Louis, Vegas and Colorado to get an easy trip to the playoffs.
Canada Oh Canada just what the doctor ordered. We will finally get to see some of the great Canadian rivalries back to the Glory days Canadian fans have been rooting for. The battle of Alberta will be some of most intense games of the season with some of the best players in the league. We will also be treated to multiple matchups between the two Tkachuk brothers.
Beginning Wednesday January 13th, the NHL 2021 season officially gets underway. With matches between Edmonton v Vancouver, Montreal v Toronto, Colorado v St. Louis, Tampa v Chicago, and finally Pittsburgh v Philadelphia. The race to hoist Lord Stanley Cup begins anew and the only question is who will be the last team standing.