We made it hockey fans! On Wednesday, the NHL announced the full schedule for the 2021 season. The season will officially begin on Wednesday January 13, 2021. Teams will play 56 games with the regular season concluding on May 8th. Fans in Hockeytown will get to see their Red Wings take the ice for the first time since March 10th when they open the season hosting the Carolina Hurricanes on January 14, 2021. With the schedule and division realignments announced, let’s take a look at who the Red Wings will be facing in 2021.
Also announced by the NHL recently were the new divisions for the 2021 season. With the realignment, teams will only be playing against divisional opponents, meaning all of Detroit’s 56 games will be against common Central Division foes. The new Central Division pairs the Red Wings with the Blackhawks, Hurricanes, Blue Jackets, Stars, Panthers, Predators, and the Stanley Cup champions Lightning.
The most exciting part of the realignment for Red Wings fans is more games against fierce Original Six rivals the Chicago Blackhawks. Things never fail to be exciting when these two teams meet on the ice, despite their recent records. The two face off for the first time on January 22nd in the Windy City.
Looking at the Central Division, the Red Wings are actually the only one team that wasn’t good enough to earn an invitation to the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoff bubble. Tampa Bay, Columbus, Carolina, Chicago, and Dallas were all good enough to make it past the qualifying round in the bubble. Furthermore, the Lightning and Stars were the ones playing to win it all at the end. With that in mind, 2021 looks like it could be another difficult year in Hockeytown.
How Will the Red Wings Do?
As previously stated, 2021 most likely won’t see a huge upswing in success for the Red Wings. Detroit finished with the worst record in the NHL in 2019-20, and with the level of competition they’ll be facing in the upcoming season, they might end up in that spot again.
Detroit is currently deep in the middle of a rebuild. The team’s young talent is facing an uphill battle with this difficult schedule. However, it can also provide a useful benchmark to see how the Red Wings are improving. Wins against top tier teams like Tampa Bay and Dallas should be hard to come by. There are sure to be plenty of losses, but also plenty to learn from.
Fans should know by now to not expect much from the Red Wings for awhile. Enjoy watching the renewed rivalry with Chicago and seeing if Detroit’s young core can take the next steps to NHL stardom. Just don’t be surprised to see the Wings in the basement of the new Central Division when May rolls around.