2020-21 NHL schedule notes: Stats, oddities, fuel for nasty rivalries

2020-21 NHL schedule notes: Stats, oddities, and fuel for nasty rivalries; Tkachuk - Kassian
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Continuing a wave of key announcements, the NHL shared 56-game 2020-21 schedules for all 31 teams on Wednesday.

As people get time to mull those NHL schedules over, this seems like a good time to share stats, takeaways and other oddities for those 2020-21 plans.

Also, at the bottom of this post, you can follow links to 2020-21 NHL season schedules for all 31 teams. You’ll also get a glimpse of all 31 NHL teams’ season-openers.

Takeaways, stats, oddities, and other notes from 2020-21 NHL schedules

Let’s break down takeaways into some categories.

Fodder for rivalries, including with All-Canadian “North” Division

When you consider the sheer number of games teams will be playing against their division rivals, the 2020-21 NHL season schedule is juicy meat for those who crave bloodthirsty feuds.

For this reason, rank the Calgary Flames as one of the teams to watch. Not only will Brady Tkachuk and Matthew Tkachuk get a family feud going, but also 10 Battles of Alberta is billboard material.

While not as extreme as the North’s nine or 10-game slates, the teams in the NHL’s other three divisions will face each other eight times apiece. The stakes figure to be high, as will be repeat battles. With that in mind, old rivalries could reach new levels, and new ones could be born.

The sequences of 2020-21 NHL schedules could also heat up rivaries. Take, for instance, the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks undergoing an MLB-like five-game series from late April to early May:

 

If you want more rivalry fodder, the NHL released videos for the Central, East, North, and West Divisions.

Stats, various tidbits

Yeah, that rivalry stuff could be really fun and fraught. But let’s throw out other facts and stats. If you need even more, the NHL put together an 11-page PDF of stats. Consider these highlights from that source, among others:

  • Jan. 13: On opening night, the Lightning will raise their Stanley Cup banner and face the Blackhawks. There are four other games (Penguins – Flyers, Leafs – Habs, Canucks – Oilers, and Avs – Blues).
  • Meanwhile, on May 8., the 2020-21 NHL season will end with a maximum of 15 games played. There are several other nights of double-digit games throughout the season.
  • The Sharks must wait until Feb. 1 for their home-opener. At first blush, that might seem unfair. In the grand scheme of things, that might boil down to savvy schedule-making, though. Maybe the Sharks can relocate from Arizona by February?
  • The “North” Division is the first All-Canadian division in NHL history. During the first seven NHL seasons (1917-18 through 1923-24), the league was comprised only of Canadian teams. The Bruins became the first U.S.-based NHL squad in 1924-25.
  • If you want an idea of how muddled divisional histories can be, the league’s release should suit you.

Division realignment, how playoffs work

Maybe you want a visual reminder of what the four divisions actually look like? Take a gander:

2020-21 NHL divisions NHL officially rolls out plan for 56-game 2020-21 season
via the NHL

Let’s get a refresher on how the regular season and postseason are structured, too.

The NHL shared key details about how the 2020-21 NHL season will play out, including that teams will only play against other teams in their division.

  • Teams in the East, Central, and West divisions will face each other eight times. Meanwhile, in the North (all-Canadian) Division, the seven teams will face other divisional rivals either nine or 10 times.
  • During the 2020-21 NHL season, the league will break from its wild-card format. Instead, it’s quite simple: the top four teams from each of the four divisions will make up the 16 playoff squads.
  • From there, the top seed in each division faces the fourth seed, while the second faces the third. The winners face off in the second round. After the divisional bracketing is taken care of, the four remaining playoff teams will be re-seeded.

This could create some fascinating, one-of-a-kind matchups for the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. Want specifics? PHT’s Adam Gretz put together power rankings for the top 20 potential 2021 Stanley Cup Final series that can only happen during the 2020-21 NHL season.

Schedules for all 31 NHL teams; 2020-21 season-openers

Here are the season-opening games for all 31 NHL teams:

NHL shares 56-game 2020-21 schedules for all 31 teams season openers
via NHL

Schedules for all 31 NHL teams during 2020-21 season

Anaheim Ducks

Arizona Coyotes

Boston Bruins

Buffalo Sabres

Calgary Flames

Carolina Hurricanes

Chicago Blackhawks

Colorado Avalanche

Columbus Blue Jackets

Dallas Stars

Detroit Red Wings

Edmonton Oilers

Florida Panthers

Los Angeles Kings

Minnesota Wild

Montreal Canadiens

Nashville Predators

New Jersey Devils

New York Islanders

New York Rangers

Ottawa Senators

Philadelphia Flyers

Pittsburgh Penguins

San Jose Sharks

St. Louis Blues

Tampa Bay Lightning

Toronto Maple Leafs

Vancouver Canucks

Vegas Golden Knights

Washington Capitals

Winnipeg Jets

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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