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Breaking Down the 2020-21 Schedule

Highlights and trends in the 56-game schedule

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

With the beginning of the National Hockey League's 2020-21 season just three weeks away, it's time to get some dates on the calendar.

The Carolina Hurricanes' regular-season schedule has arrived - minus start times and broadcast information, for now - and it's a unique and quirky 56-game slate for what's likely to be a unique and quirky season ahead.


Let's break down some of the highlights and trends found within the 56-game schedule.

Two by Two

With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging in many parts of North America, the NHL is aiming to limit travel as much as possible. That's why the regular season and first two rounds of the playoffs feature intradivisional play exclusively. It's also why the Canes' schedule is, for the most part, grouped into pairs of games - two games against the same opponent in the same city.

Excluding four one-off games, the Canes will play 26 two-game series against their seven Central Division opponents.

Starting on the Road

The Canes begin the 2020-21 season with a four-game road swing through Detroit and Nashville. While the league opens on Wednesday, Jan. 13, the puck drops for the Canes on Thursday, Jan. 14 in Detroit.


After four games in six nights on the road to begin the season, the Canes return home for a six-game set against Florida, Tampa Bay and Dallas. The home opener - typically a tentpole event of the regular season - is set for Thursday, Jan. 21 against the Panthers, though the night will be more muted than in seasons past with no fans in attendance.

Challenging the Champs

The Canes face off with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, Jan. 26 in Raleigh, the first of eight meetings against the defending Stanley Cup champions. A rematch on Thursday, Jan. 28 rounds out that two-game set, and the Canes will then make their first trip to Tampa on Monday, Feb. 22.

Comforts of Home

The Canes will play eight straight games at PNC Arena from April 3-17, their longest homestand of the season. The Stars, Panthers, Red Wings and Predators will all come through Raleigh during that 15-day stretch.

The Canes' second longest homestand of the season is their first: six games in 11 days to end January, as they play host to the Panthers, Lightning and Stars.

Those two homestands account for exactly 50 percent of the Canes' PNC Arena schedule, which is rounded out by a four-game homestand, two three-game stints and two two-game pairs.

Hitting the Road

The Canes have two six-game road trips on their schedule. The first is a stretch of six games over 12 days from Feb. 2-13, as the team travels through Chicago, Columbus and Dallas to begin the month. The second is a tighter segment of six games in nine days in late April, as the team goes to Tampa, Florida and Dallas from April 19-27.

Heading West

The newly formed Central Division includes three teams from the Western Conference - the Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators - meaning the Canes will play almost 43 percent of their schedule against teams they previously saw just twice a season.

The Canes will travel to Nashville on their first trip of the season (Jan. 18-19). They make their first voyage to the Windy City in early February (Feb. 2-4) followed a week later by their first visit to Dallas (Feb. 11-13).

Familiar Faces

The Columbus Blue Jackets join the Canes as the only representatives from the Metropolitan Division in the newly formed Central. The Canes face the Blue Jackets four games in a row (a home-and-home) from March 18-25.

Going Back to Back

The Canes play 10 sets of back-to-back games in the 2020-21 season, though with the unique construction of this schedule, every back-to-back features the same opponent either at home or on the road; there is no travel in between games, and the second game is simply a rematch of the first.

In fact, six of the Canes' eight games against Dallas are back-to-back sets: Jan. 30-31 and April 3-4 at home, and April 26-27 in Dallas.

The Canes finish the 2020-21 season with two back-to-backs: at home against Chicago (May 3-4) and on the road in Nashville (May 7-8).


It's no surprise that the 2020-21 schedule is tightly packed. April is the Canes' busiest month with 16 games on the docket. It's also one of the densest months, with those 16 games being played in a 29-day stretch, equaling one game for every 1.81 days on the calendar. A similar schedule density can be found in January, when the Canes begin the season with 10 games in 18 days. The Canes finish the season with a frantic five games in eight days in May.

January 6 4 10
February 3 9 12
March 7 6 13
April 9 7 16
May 3 2 5

Thursday is the busiest day of the week for the Canes, who play on every Thursday of the season except two (Feb. 18 and May 6). Monday is typically a lighter day on the schedule for the Canes, but the team is slated to play nine games (two at home, seven on the road) on the first day of the traditional workweek this season.

Just two Friday games, one at home and one on the road, dot the schedule in February and May. In an interesting quirk, the Canes are not scheduled to play any Wednesday games this season.

Monday 2 7 9
Tuesday 5 6 11
Wednesday 0 0 0
Thursday 8 7 15
Friday 1 1 2
Saturday 9 5 14
Sunday 3 2 5
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