The 2021 NHL Season is off and running. However, all but one of the 31 teams already having played in their respective opening week schedules. The level of competition stays the same. Many are coping with the changes in rules and overall format. It has unsurprisingly been a challenge, most particularly with how the teams approach each game.
With the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic still present, the league is forced to make significant modifications in scheduling the regular season, as well as to how the NHL Playoffs is to be played.
NHL Begins 56-Game Regular Season
The 56-game regular season is to finish in the first week of May. The postseason will then revert back to a 16-team, best-of-seven, four-round playoff format. Based on the calendar, this year’s Stanley Cup champions will emerge around mid-July.
This 2021 NHL Season has decided to go for a divisional realignment. It is where all teams will play only divisional opponents in the regular season. All divisions, except the North, will have their respective teams to play each other eight times.
NHL Launches Divisional Realignment, Modified Playoff Format
Divisional matchups will be played for the first two rounds of the Playoffs. The four division winners will then advance to the semifinals with the placing based on their regular-season point totals. The last two teams that will remain standing will play in the Stanley Cup Final. This is another change from the usual series. Previously, it was between an Eastern Conference team versus a Western Conference team for the championship.
The games are now underway and early favorites to contend for the cup are quickly emerging due to the shortened season. The Toronto Maple Leafs are leading the North after four games, while the Washington Capitals are at the top of the East division so far after three games. Reigning Stanley Cup champions Tampa Bay Lightning currently lead the Central division with four points while the Vegas Golden Knights are reigning supreme in the West.
Dallas Stars Set To Play Season Debut Against Nashville Predators On Jan. 22
The Dallas Stars are still waiting to get their feet wet after the league dropped the puck for the rest of the teams. The Stars, last season’s runner’s-up, have been bugged by a COVID-19 outbreak even before the season starts. They will make their season debut on Jan. 22 against the Nashville Predators as the team claims that all persons with positive cases within the team are recovering well without complications.
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