2021 NHL Season Preview: Everything That You Need To Know
By Austin Shaw
The NHL season is about to start and just a few months later than usual. The NHL isn’t unfamiliar with a short season, but we haven’t seen one since 2012-2013. That season was shortened to 48 games due to a battle between the NHL and the NHLPA over a labor dispute. The Chicago Blackhawks went on to win their second cup in three years by beating The Boston Bruins in six games. If you haven’t seen the end of that game 6, give it a watch. Boston was up 2-1 with 90 seconds left and a chance to force a game 7.
The 2021 season is shortened due to COVID. Of course that came after the 2019-2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs were moved from the usual April, May, and June to August and September. So here is what you need to know about the 2021 NHL season.
There are still four divisions but they aren’t the usual.
The NHL decided to divide teams based on location and the main concern being Canada. There is a mandatory 14 day quarantine for anyone entering Canada. So, a Canadian or “North” division was inevitable. Because of these divisions, teams will only play those inside their division during the regular season. For the East, Central, and West, each team will play each other eight times. Four home and four away. Also, teams will always play twice in a home and home or away and away. For example, Game one of the season is Wednesday, January 13th. Pittsburgh is at Philadelphia. They will also play on Friday the 15th in Philly. As for the North division some will play nine times, some eight.
Four teams make it out of each division. There will be no wild cards. That makes the Eastern division very interesting. Boston, Pittsburgh, Washington, Philadelphia and the New York Islanders, who all made the playoffs last season are going to be battling for four spots. The same goes for the Central with, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Columbus and Nashville.
Also, the NHL are the teams in the league are losing a lot of money without fans being able to attend games. Two more new things this year are, helmet ads and division ads. This will help teams and the league make up for some of the lost revenue.
This season is going to be very exciting. Teams are going to hate each other more than ever due to the fact that they only play in their division. That goes through the first two rounds of the playoffs as well. To make it more clear, say top four in the East are 1. Boston 2. Washington 3. Pittsburgh. 4. Philadelphia. 1 and 4 would play as well as 2 and 3. Then the top team from each division will be seeded based on regular season points. There is no Eastern Conference and Western Conference. Pittsburgh could play Columbus in the Stanley Cup Final. San Jose could play Dallas. Edmonton could play LA. All are oddly a possibility.
My advice for fans this season, expect the unexpected. As cliche as that is. This is a whole different version of hockey we haven’t seen before. This 56 game season is going to be a sprint, that is for sure. Think about it this way, the St. Louis Blues were in last place in January 2019. They went on to win the Stanley Cup that year in June. The difference is, there is no time for a bad start. If a team starts 0-10, good luck coming back with only 46 games left to play.
Opening night is January 13th and it has so amazing matchups: The Battle of Pennsylvania, a 2015 Stanley Cup Final Rematch, and two teams that have a very good chance of winning the cup this year.
This season is going to be short, fast, and most importantly exciting.
Check back soon for a Best to Bet on article of course a Penguins season preview.