NHL

In this article, we will consider NHL teams in new divisions with realignment for 2020-21 season

Seven based in Canada make up one of four; intradivisional games only

The 31 NHL teams will be realigned in four new divisions for this season, including one for the seven teams based in Canada.

“Pretty neat you get to see those other teams a little bit more and have an appreciation for what they do,” Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher said in November, according to the Canadian Press. “And at the same time, there’s a little bit of pride involved when you’re playing for your Canadian division.

“I’m sure everyone would have a little bit of motivation.”

Each team will play a 56-game schedule and face teams only in its division during the regular season, which will begin Jan. 13, 2021, after the NHL and NHL Players’ Association announced approval of the plan Sunday.

The top four teams in each division will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, when each round will be best-of-7.

The Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals will play in the East Division.

The Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning will compete in the Central Division.

The Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues and Vegas Golden Knights will be in the West Division.

“Regardless of division, west or east, time change, when the puck’s dropped, you play the game,” Wild coach Dean Evason said on SiriusXM NHL Network Radio on Dec. 10. “If you have to go to bed an hour early, so be it. Everybody adjusts. Wherever we are, or wherever we’re put, we have to play games and we have to give ourselves opportunity to win and have success.”

The Canadiens, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets will play in the North Division.

“I think it’s just going to be awesome,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said earlier this month. “It’s going to be way over the top because the Canadian media, all the websites, all the talk will be about the Canadian teams. I think it’s also great for the Canadian teams in that it’s going to be a little bit old-school, that it’s going to be just about us. There will be a vibe to that that’s awesome.”

The first two rounds of the playoffs will be intradivisional, with the first-place team playing the fourth-place team and the second-place team facing the third-place team in the first round. The four teams that advance from the second round to the Semifinal Round will be seeded by their points total in the regular season (No. 1 vs. No. 4; No. 2 vs. No. 3).

The 2020-21 season has been delayed due to continuing concerns surrounding the coronavirus. The last game was played Sept. 28, when the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Dallas Stars 2-0 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.

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