REGULAR SEASON The NHL announced a 56 game regular season schedule that starts Wednesday January 13th, 2021 through May 8th. Stanley Cup Playoffs begin on May 11th with games all the way up to July 9th, subject to adjustment. The league sought to limit player and staff exposure while trying to keep within a normalcy of their season calendar by starting their training camp just this past December 31st and deciding to cancel their preseason. The 2019-20 final game was on September 28th, 2020 when the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Dallas Stars in game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. For pre-pandemic perspective, the final game of the 2018-19 Stanley Cup was played on June 12th, 2019 where the St. Louis Blues defeated the Boston Bruins in a game seven.
DIVISION REALIGNMENT and PLAYOFFS There will be four new divisions this season for the 31 NHL teams which includes one for the 7 Canadian based franchises. The NHL realignment for this season is temporary and was adjusted due to the U.S. and Canada border remaining closed to nonessential travel. Unlike last season where all games were played in the Canadian bubble cities Edmonton and Toronto, all teams will be allowed to play their home games in their respective arenas, fan attendance will be subject like we have seen with the different NFL stadiums across the country. Playoff berths will be decided by the top 4 teams in each division. The first two rounds to the interdivisional playoffs will have the first-place team playing the fourth-place team and the second-place team playing to third-place team to advance. The second round will be the semifinals where the teams are seeded by their point total from the regular season, the No. 1 seed will play the No. 4 seed and the No. 2 seed will play the No. 3 seed. That will determine each conference championship game where the the winners would then advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. All postseason series are best of seven.
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
START OF SEASON The Golden Knights play in the new Western Division with departures by Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver and in replacement are Colorado, Minnesota and St. Louis. VGK opens the season with a four-game homestand at T-Mobile Arena starting Jan 14th against the Anaheim Ducks. Following the Ducks, Vegas will play the Arizona Coyotes for 4 games and then 2 games against the St. Louis Blues to finish out January. The Knights' heated rivalry with San Jose continues on Feb 1st at San Jose but the Sharks are still uncertain if they can come out of their giant Shark's head prop onto their home ice as the teams may have to play at a yet undetermined neutral site because of the Santa Clara county's current stay-at-home order. Fans for the Golden Knights will currently not be able to attend games at T-Mobile arena as NV Governor Steve Sisolak extended the statewide "pause" on covid -19 restrictions on Jan 11th for another 30 days, they were originally subject to end on Jan 15th.
ADDITIONS The team added St. Louis Blues star defensemen Alex Pietrangelo in free agency to their roster, he is contracted at 7 years for $61 million. Pietrangelo will be paired up with Shea Theodore making it a very stout defense that will make it even harder for opponents to score upon with VGK's stud goalie duo of Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner. Another addition was defensemen Carl Dahlstrom from the Winnipeg Jets but he was just waived by Vegas on Monday January 12, the team thinks with Pietrangelo and and Theodore that they can wait on Dahlstrom to develop. Staying in Vegas is star goalie Robin Lehner who re-signed with the Knights for a five-year $25 million extension.
SUBTRACTIONS In the trade that brought over Alex Pietrangelo and his contract, the Knights parted ways with Paul Statsny and Nate Schmidt. Alex will replace Schmidt and is widely viewed as an obvious upgrade. Statsny leaving weakens the team center depth behind William Karlsson and they will look to Cody Glass and Chandler Stephenson to contribute more.
SPECIAL EVENT Just announced officially on Jan 12, the Vegas Golden Knights will play the Colorado Avalanche in an outdoor game on Feb 20 at Lake Tahoe. The rink will be located on the 18th fairway of the golf course at the Edgewood Tahoe Resort. It will provide stunning backdrop views of the Lake Tahoe shoreline and the Sierra Nevada mountains. The game will be broadcasted on NBC at 3pm ET.
VEGAS ODDS VGK to Win: NHL West Division +125 NHL Stanley Cup +550 * William Hill sports betting odds as of 8:45pm on 01/12/21
Image Credits: Gordon Weigers (2021, Jan 04). Training Camp Diaries – 1/4. Training Camp Diaries are presented by Station Casinos. Retrieved Jan 12, 2021, from https://www.nhl.com/goldenknights/news/training-camp-diaries—15/c-320007942