As the NHL begins to finalize their plans for the 2020-21 season, it sounds like the league is finally hammering down their temporary division alignment ahead of a schedule announcement.
This became necessary with the league’s efforts to reduce the amount of travel for teams during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A report from Pierre Lebrun with The Athletic reveals the latest in the league’s plan for realignment.
Not finalized yet, and still subject to change, but the 2020-21 four-division re-alignment currently looks like this according to sources:
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) December 9, 2020
If that plan holds up, the Nashville Predators would find themselves in a temporary division with:
- Carolina Hurricanes
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- Detroit Red Wings
- Chicago Blackhawks
- Florida Panthers
- Minnesota Wild
- Tampa Bay Lightning
This would change the Preds’ outlook for the 2020-21 season considerably. For one, if there was no realignment, the Preds would find themselves at the bottom half of the Central Division in terms of talent. Dallas, St. Louis, Colorado, Minnesota, and Winnipeg have all improved while Nashville has remained stagnant.
Then there were the earlier reports that the temporary alignment would involve Nashville joining with Pittsburgh and Tampa, while staying with Dallas and St. Louis. Talk about out of the frying pan and into the fire.
This latest report from Lebrun, if true, dramatically improves the Preds’ chances at making the postseason next season.
Preds reuniting division rivalry with Red Wings?
If the Preds renew their old division rivalry with the Detroit Red Wings in 2021, this would be a good thing for Nashville. Detroit was among the non-playoff teams last year and they seem to be on a permanent rebuild.
The Red Wings have not made the postseason in four years and don’t appear ready to break that streak in 2021.
The Preds-Wings rivalry was an instant classic when the Predators came onto the scene in 1998. Plenty of Detroit transplants packed the Nashville home arena, leading to some raucous nights on Broadway.
The Red Wings obviously have had far more success overall in the series, but the Predators have been more successful lately. Most recently, the Predators knocked off the Red Wings in the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, beating the Wings for the first time in the playoffs.
We still don’t know if the NHL will allow fans in home arenas for the Predators, or even how the schedule will be arranged for the new season. But for seasoned Predators fans, it should be rejuvenating to see an old rival regularly on the schedule, especially if the season is shortened to 56 games (as has been rumored).
Competing for a playoff spot
The Nashville Predators joining this revised division would be huge for their playoffs chances.
Only one of those is a “non-playoff team” from 2020 (DET), but we can take that with a huge grain of salt. Last year was a very strange year.
NSH could be among the top 3 in that division. TB the favorite, CAR next, then MN, NSH, CBJ competing, then FLA, CHI, DET at bottom.
— Alex Daugherty (@AlexDaugherty1) December 9, 2020
For one, not being in a division with Dallas, St. Louis, Colorado, and Winnipeg, all of whom have caused the Preds fits over the last couple season, would be an improvement.
Those teams are fast, physical, and full of talent.
Adding teams like Detroit, Florida, and Columbus to Nashville’s regular schedule would help soften the blow over the course of four months. Though those teams have plenty of talent, they aren’t close to Dallas, St. Louis, or Colorado.
Keeping Chicago and Minnesota in the division, two teams you feel like Nashville can matchup well with, also helps.
While you never know how an NHL season plays out, Nashville Predators fans have to be pleased with this latest report about their potential upcoming competition.
— Featured image via Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports —