2021-22 NHL schedule: Kraken debut, return to 82 games, and more

2021-22 NHL schedule: Kraken debut, return to 82 games, and more
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One day after the Seattle Kraken made their expansion draft picks, we now know when they’ll play their first game, and also the date of their home-opener. The NHL released 82-game schedules for all 32 teams for the 2021-22 season on Thursday.

The 2021-22 NHL season schedule kicks off with a doubleheader (Lightning – Penguins and Kraken – Golden Knights) on Oct. 12. The regular season concludes on April 29, with a whopping 30 out of 32 NHL teams participating.

It’s not yet clear if the NHL will participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics, so that could prompt some changes to the 2021-22 schedule.

If you want 2021-22 season schedules for specific teams, they are linked at the bottom of this post.

Here are some quick notes about 2021-22 NHL season schedules.

Kraken debut during 2021-22 season; Lightning raise banner, Islanders open new arena

The Kraken will play their first-ever NHL regular-season game on the road against the Golden Knights on Oct. 12. Eventually, the Kraken will host their first home game against the Canucks on Oct. 23.

On that same Oct. 12 opening night, the Lightning will raise their Stanley Cup banner before facing the Penguins.

Return to 82 games for 2021-22 NHL schedule; Division/Conference format returns

The division alignments from 2020-21, including the popular All-Canadian North Division, will be a one-year thing. Instead, the NHL returns to the previous format:

Eastern Conference: Atlantic, Metropolitan Divisions

Western Conference: Central, Pacific Divisions

The Coyotes move to the Central Division to make room for the Kraken in the Pacific. Three teams from each division secure a spot in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, while remaining teams battle for two wild-card spots per conference.

Here’s a reminder of the “scheduling matrix,” via the NHL:

Reminder: Scheduling Matrix
Each Division Has Eight Teams

Games Within Division
5 teams x 2 home / 2 away (Subtotal 10 home / 10 away)
1 team x 2 home / 1 away (Subtotal 2 home / 1 away)
1 team x 1 home / 2 away (Subtotal 1 home / 2 away)

Games Within Conference (Non-Division)
4 teams x 2 home / 1 away (Subtotal 8 home / 4 away)
4 teams x 1 home / 2 away (Subtotal 4 home / 8 away)

Non-Conference Games
16 teams x 1 home / 1 away (Subtotal 16 home / 16 away)

Grand Total – 82 Games
41 home / 41 away

Uncertainty over Olympic participation (would happen around All-Star break)

At the moment, it’s unclear if NHL players will participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics. Such a break is currently factored into 2021-22 NHL season schedules, though.

If the NHL participates in the 2022 Olympics, the 2022 NHL All-Star Game would serve as a send-off. Here’s how it may play out if the NHL can agree to Olympic participation:

  • Feb. 4-5: 2022 NHL All-Star Weekend.
  • Feb. 7-22: Possible pause for NHL involvement in 2022 Winter Olympics.
  • Feb. 24: If NHL is involved in the Olympics, the 2021-22 regular season would resume on Feb. 24.

Here’s how the league worded things if the NHL does not participate in the 2022 Olympics:

If, for whatever reason, there is no NHL Player participation in the Olympics, a revised Regular Season schedule will be released which, to the greatest extent possible, will adopt the dates and games reflected in the schedule contemplating Olympic participation.

2022 Winter Classic, plus Stadium Series

Postponed from 2020, the Winter Classic will be at Target Field in Minnesota and feature the Wild vs. the Blues on Jan. 1, 2022.

• The Stadium Series will return and be hosted at Nissan Stadium in Nashville on Feb. 26, 2022 with the Predators taking on the defending champion Lightning.

Schedules for all 32 NHL teams during 2021-22 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

Seattle Kraken

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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