Yesterday was a glorious day for all hockey fans across the world! Gary Bettman had announced that NHL will return to play this season, starting on January 13th and ending in early July. All hockey fans will now be tremendously excited to see how their favorite team will adapt to the newly released rules, and if they will go far in the season, hoping to see the Stanley Cup lifted over the player’s heads. How will this affect the New York Rangers? Here are my takeaways.
Updated League Rules
Usually, there is an 82 game season, with each team playing each other at least 1 time throughout the hockey year with travels around the league. This year, it is the complete opposite. The NHL and NHLPA have agreed on a 56-game season, with each team only playing their divisional opponents, making it safer for each club to cross through close states (ex. Rangers-Flyers). Along with that, April 12th will be Trade Deadline day, followed by May 8 which is the last day of the regular season. The Cup will be lifted at the latest on July 15th. The draft will be on July 23rd, and the 28th will kick off free agency.
Bettman has gone and moved a few teams around in each division. The new divisions will be known as “North”, “East”, “Central” and “West”. The North division will consist of all the Canadian based teams (Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Jets, Oilers, Flames, Canucks, and Senators). The East division will consist of the Rangers, Islanders, Devils, Penguins, Capitals, Flyers, Sabres, and Bruins. The 8 teams represented in the Central division are the Hurricanes, Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Stars, Red Wings, Panthers, Predators, and last year’s Stanley Cup champions, Tampa Bay Lightning. It will be interesting to see what teams succeed in the 2020-2021 season, including these setbacks.
Due to the major losses of time, all teams will have to adapt to the new season without a preseason, and with a quick training camp. This will also affect the team’s physical prowess. If a team is coming out of the break with no training before camp, it will be twice as hard to adjust to the customs. Training camp begins on January 3rd, two days after 2021 kicks off. All attention will be on each of the 31 teams. All teams will carry taxi squads, which are players that travel and practice with the main team. If an emergency occurs, each team will now have backup plans to substitute injured players with their taxi-squad representatives.
Effects on The Rangers
After all of this useful information, it is clear that the East division is the toughest. Each team plays each other 8 times so more fights, more hits, and even harder games. The Rangers will be grinding their way past the big Bruins, rising Islanders, and veteran Capitals. These are only 3 of the 7 teams that the Broadway Blueshirts will go up against. The Rangers are young, fast, and tough. With key additions of Alexis Lafrenière, and other contributing players such as Igor Shesterkin, Artemi Panarin, and Mika Zibanejad coming back in form, we could see the Rangers make a big push in the playoffs!