What is the format for the 2021 NHL season?
From major division realignment, to a shortened schedule, the 2021 NHL season will be unlike any other in history. Due to lingering COVID-19 concerns, the NHL has abandoned the usual two-conference setup and realigned the four divisions. Based on geographic location, East, West and Central divisions each consist of eight teams based in the United States. The seven Canadian teams form the North Division. The regular season begins on January 13 and ends on May 8, 2021.
Teams in the East, West and Central divisions will play each other eight times. North Division teams will play each other either nine or 10 times. The schedule has been reduced from 82 to 56 games and teams will only play within their division. The regular season will play out over 116 days and the current schedule consists of 868 total games. The Stanley Cup playoffs are scheduled to begin on May 11 and the top four teams in each division will advance to the postseason.
With the conference setup eliminated, there won’t be any wild card teams in the playoffs this season. Instead, the four teams with the best record in each division will be seeded from one to four. The top seed in each division will play the fourth seed and the second seed will play the third seed in the first round. Second round winners advance to the semifinals and the four teams will be re-seeded for the final two rounds. A best-of-seven series format will be used in all four rounds.
Colorado Avalanche: Player with the most regular season goals?
Bookmakers at DraftKings Sportsbook have Nathan MacKinnon as the favorite to score the most goals for Colorado. He is also the fifth favorite to score the most goals overall in the NHL this season. MacKinnon has led the Avalanche in goals scored in each of the last three seasons. He was the top Colorado scorer with 35 goals over 69 games last season. Gabriel Landeskog was second with 21 goals over 54 games. I feel this is one of the best bets on the DraftKings prop board.
Pick: Nathan MacKinnon (-155) at DraftKings
Edmonton Oilers vs. Calgary Fames: Best regular season finish?
One of the best NHL rivalries, DraftKings is offering a prop option that’s focused on the Battle of Alberta. Bettors need to decide whether Edmonton or Calgary will finish higher in the North Division standings. The Oilers played one more game than the Flames last season and finished four points ahead of their provincial rival. A separate prop has Edmonton (+450) ahead of Calgary (+650) to win the North Division. Bet on the Oilers to finish ahead of the Flames again this season.
Pick: Edmonton Oilers (-125) at DraftKings
Cale Makar vs. Quinn Hughes: Most regular season points?
Rising stars are featured on this prop option as Makar won the 2019-20 Calder Trophy and Hughes finished second. Makar had 50 points over 57 games with Colorado while Hughes had 53 points over 68 games with Vancouver. Two key factors went into picking the winner here. The Avalanche are poised to be one of the highest scoring teams this season and they have a softer schedule than the Canucks. While it will be a close race, bet on Makar to finish with more points.
Pick: Cale Makar (-125) at DraftKings
Detroit Red Wings: Over/Under 43.5 regular season total points?
Detroit posted a 17-46-5 record last season and finished last overall with 39 points. That point total was achieved over 71 games and the Red Wings will play just 56 games this season. Making things more difficult, Detroit is playing in the Central Division that includes Stanley Cup finalists Tampa Bay and Dallas. The other five teams, Carolina, Columbus, Nashville, Florida and Chicago, all made the playoffs last year. It’s going to be another long season in the Motor City.
Pick: Detroit Red Wings UNDER 43.5 total points (-112) at DraftKings
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