NASHVILLE - It's official: The Carolina Hurricanes are champions of the National Hockey League's Discover Central Division.
Even though the Canes were idle on Friday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the Dallas Stars and thus will not be able to catch the Canes, who are 36-10-8 with 80 points, in the standings. This marks the Canes' first division title since 2005-06, when they finished in first place in the Southeast Division before eventually capturing the Stanley Cup.
As part of the NHL's temporary realignment for the 56-game 2020-21 regular season, the Canes joined a hodgepodge collection of teams from the previous Metropolitan, Atlantic and Central Divisions in the newly formed Central. Carolina then finished ahead of its seven season opponents, which included the two Stanley Cup finalists from last season, to capture the fourth division title in team history (since relocation) and fifth in franchise history.
The Canes, who are riding a 13-game point streak (9-0-4), close out the regular season with two games in Nashville and will face the Central Division's fourth seed in the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The winner of that series will then face the winner of the 2 vs. 3 match-up before the four remaining playoff teams venture out of their divisions for the first time this calendar year.