Wednesday January 13th will see the start of the brand-new NHL season. Just like any other sport around the world Ice Hockey has suffered due to the pandemic.
868 games in 116 days
A total of 868 games will be squeezed into 116 days is the intended plan for the new campaign. The 31 teams will be divided into four divisions. North, East Central and West with sides playing a 56 game regular season.
All teams will play only divisional opponents in the regular season. Teams in the North division will play each other nine or ten times. Everybody else will face their divisional opponents eight times.
NHL regular season to finish in early May
The regular season will finish on May 8th and then the league will return to a 16 team, best of seven, four round play off format. Four teams from each division will qualify for the play offs.
The East Division will see Philadelphia Flyers, New York Islanders, Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers. Also in the division are Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils who will all do battle.
Tough East Division should see Flyers a tough nut to crack
Flyers would be the side to beat having kept their team intact. Islanders have kept the core of last seasons side. Penguins with the experienced Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malking available should see them make the play offs.
Boston have lost a lot of their defence ahead of the new season and have injury concerns ahead of the new campaign. Rangers have drafted Alexis Lafreniere and have predominantly a young side. Buffalo made a big signing in forward Taylor Hall to boost their attack, with the Devils also adding players to their team in the off season.
Last seasons champions are this season playing in the Central Division
The Central Division consists of Tampa Bay Lightning, Dallas Stars, Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators. Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks make up the rest of the division.
Last seasons Stanley Cup champions Tampa Bay should prosper in an easier division. Stars- made the final last season, losing out to the Lightning- and should push Tampa once again in the division.
Carolina, badly lack a quality goaltender, otherwise look a good all-round side. Predators certainly lack goal scoring with Panthers making some interesting signings. Red Wings really struggled last campaign but should improve this season. Blackhawks are a side who are rebuilding, with many of their players injured or traded.
North Division is an all Canadian affair
In the North Division, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames should dominate. Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators make up the division.
Oilers look the side everybody has to beat in the division. Led by Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaiti, the side boosts quality in every position. Leafs will once again be led by Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner and William Nylander. The experienced quartet will prove to be a handful for a lot of sides this campaign. Jets look a side with a big forward line up but will struggle defensively once again.
Canadiens are still a relatively young team with Calgary making some interesting signings as well. Vancouver look likely to struggle after losing a lot of players this off-season including Tyler Toffoli, Chris Tanev and Jacob Markstrom.
A very strong West Division looking likely
Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks make up the West Division. Minnesota Wild, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and Arizona Coyotes make up a strong West Division.
The Avs have made some solid additions for the forthcoming campaign by acquiring Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews. Golden Knights have added star defenseman Alex Pietrangelo to their roster and will be there or there abouts.
San Jose Sharks may surprise a few people this campaign
If Erik Karlsson, Devin Dubnyk and others return back to form, then Sharks could surprise one or two people. The other four sides in the division look likely to struggle this time around.
So gentleman, let battle begin and most importantly of all, lets play hockey.