NHL Season 2020/2021 – Season and Team Preview
The new season is FINALLY here!
The long-awaited NHL ice hockey season has finally arrived, after a peculiar finish to 2019/2020 season due to Covid-concerns. Last season saw the teams play some 70 games out of the 82-game regular season, from October to mid-March, until the season was called off. The teams then returned to revamped playoffs in August, with 12 teams from each conference making it to the post season and the top four teams of each conference receiving a bye from the first round of best of 5 games. Eventually, it was Tampa Bay Lightning from the Eastern Conference hoisting the coveted trophy and beating their Western Conference counterparts Dallas Stars 4-2 in the Stanley Cup finals.
The season 2020/2021 will be another extraordinary one. The previous season was finished only three months ago – around the same time this season would’ve started under the normal circumstances. But the circumstances are all but normal and the season will commence on the 13th of January 2021. Obviously, there are a handful of changes to the league to accommodate the strange times and something to definitely keep an eye out when placing the bets.
New divisions & Schedule
The biggest and most drastic change for the upcoming season is the schedule and new divisions. When previously each team faced every other team in the league at least once with emphasis on their own conference and even more in their own division, this time every game of the regular season will be played within the divisions. In effect, this means the NHL will consist of four separate mini-leagues for those 56 games and the first two playoff rounds. There are four divisions, with eight teams each except for the Canadian division with seven. The teams will face each other seven times during the season and nine to ten times in the North division. Talk about some mini-playoffs here! The schedule is very condensed, with a lot of back-to-back games and also series of games played with one resting day in between – much like the “normal” playoffs. Here are the new divisions and you can find our season preview’s clicking the team name:
Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus B'Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning
Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals
Betting TIP: The matchups within the division are all-important this season. Pay attention to the h2h results and if there are underdogs who are a good fit against the favorite. This time around the oddsmakers are making almost as many guesses as the bettors, so there’s likely a bunch of value to be found.
Reaching the playoffs
The four best teams of each division make it to the postseason after 56 games are (hopefully) played in the regular season. The playoffs are played first within the division and then the winners of each divisional playoff round will form the semifinal pairings. The setup is likely to make every regular season game a bit more important than previously, because you are losing points to your direct rival within the division. Previously the conferences were separate but the teams still played inter-conference games, making it somewhat less important to beat those opponents in the other conference. Now there’s no room for longer slumps and we might be in for some surprises.
Betting TIP: Keep an eye out for the teams showing playoff-like endurance during the regular season. Which team has managed to win most back-to-backs, which team has collapsed after two games in a row? This gives a good indication of which teams might be worth a shot in the playoffs.
Rosters and “taxi squad”
Not many teams have shown signs of cutting down their spending due to the situation, but several teams are operating near the salary cap. The new rule of “taxi squad” means that the teams can have their normal roster size active in the NHL level (20+3) but in addition there’s an allowance of up to six players in the reserve, so called “taxi squad”. There could be plenty of rotation along the lines as the movement between the taxi squad and the NHL roster is only made on paper, which allows the teams to effectively have wider roster available through the season. Salary cap and other finances are somewhat affected by the taxi squad moves, but let’s not concern ourselves with that – actions on ice are what matters to us.
Betting TIP:Pay attention to the lineups, goalkeeper selections, injuries and personal maintenance days. There could be a lot more rotation in the lineups than usual, especially with the condensed and comparatively heavy schedule ahead. Early bird catches the worm, so be sure to react before the oddsmakers do.
Heading into the new season there are plenty of unknowns which makes the NHL even more unpredictable than usual. Be sure to follow BetQL's NHL picks and trends by subscribing here to gain advantage over your bookmaker!