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With the border between the United States and Canada closed indefinitely, the NHL will have to temporarily realign the divisions for the 2020-21 season. Teams will almost certainly have to play interdivisional games at least the entire regular season. According to The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta, here are what the divisions currently look like:
Pending sign-off from the provinces, the 4 NHL divisions this season will be:
Canadian: CGY, EDM, MTL, OTT, OTT, VAN, WPG
Atlantic: BOS, BUF, NJ, NYI, NYR, PHI, PIT, WAS
Central: CAR, CBJ, DET, CHI, DAL, FLA, NAS, TB
Pacific: ANA, AZ, COL, LA, MIN, SJ, STL, VGK
— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) December 19, 2020
The NHL put the Minnesota Wild in the Pacific Division and Dallas Stars in the Central Division after the St. Louis Blues wanted an opponent close to them with the rest of the teams in their division on the other side of the country. They did not make any changes to the Atlantic Division, which features the Washington Capitals.
It appears that each team will play 56 games during the regular season, which would mean each team playing others in their division eight times.
The Capitals went 11-10-2 against opponents in their division for this season in 2019-20, which would equate to a 27-24-5 record in a 56-game season. But of course, each team has made changes over the offseason and this season will be different.
The NHL and NHLPA are targeting to start the regular season on Wednesday, January 13 open training camps on Friday, January 1. The seven teams (Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Ottawa Senators, and Detroit Red Wings) that did not participate in the NHL’s return-to-play plan over the summer are expected to be allowed to open training camps on December 28.
The NHL has expressed the main goal is to return to a normal season in 2021-22 when the Seattle Kraken (the 32nd franchise) are set to debut.
By Harrison Brown