NHL teams in new divisions with realignment for 2020-21 season
Seven based in Canada make up one of four; intradivisional games onlyNHL.com @NHLdotcom
The 31 NHL teams will be realigned in four new divisions for this season, including one for the seven teams based in Canada.
"There are a lot of good teams in that division and great players," Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk said of the North Division in comments published by Sportsnet on Monday. "I don't think there's much separating teams -- a lot of star-studded teams. It will be great for the game in these unprecedented times. Sign me up."
[RELATED: 2020-21 Divisions Poll]
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.
"That becomes sometimes a lot like playoff hockey," Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said. "You're going to be playing back-to-back against the same team, whether it's in your building or on the road. It's going to be a little bit different, but at the end of the day you're trying to win games so that you can get in the playoffs and have an opportunity to compete for the Stanley Cup."
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.
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.
NHL.com staff writers Tim Campbell and Adam Kimelman contributed to this report