How Many NHL Games Are Played in a Season?
Introduction to NHL Season
The National Hockey League (NHL) is a professional ice hockey league comprising 32 teams, with 24 in the United States and 7 in Canada. The league is divided into two conferences – the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. Each conference has two divisions with 4 teams in each division.
The NHL season typically starts in early October and ends in early June, spanning over eight months. During this time, each team plays a total of 82 regular-season games. The regular-season games are played according to a set schedule, with each team playing 41 games at home and 41 games on the road.
The NHL is known for its fast-paced, physical style of play, which is a testament to the level of skill and athleticism of its players. With the playoffs being the ultimate goal for every team, the regular season serves as a crucial part of the journey towards the Stanley Cup championship.
Regular Season Game Count
The NHL regular season consists of 82 games per team, with each team playing 41 games at home and 41 games on the road. The 82-game schedule is designed to give each team a fair chance to compete and qualify for the playoffs.
Each team plays against every other team in the league at least twice during the regular season, with some teams playing each other up to five times. The number of games played against each team is determined by the conference and divisional alignment.
The NHL regular season standings are based on a point system, with 2 points awarded for a win, 1 point for an overtime or shootout loss, and 0 points for a regulation loss. At the end of the regular season, the top three teams in each division, along with two wild-card teams from each conference, qualify for the playoffs.
Overall, the regular season is an exciting time for NHL fans as they get to witness their favorite teams and players compete in a grueling 82-game schedule, with each game having the potential to make or break a team’s playoff hopes.
Postseason Game Count
The NHL postseason, also known as the Stanley Cup playoffs, is a tournament that follows the conclusion of the regular season. The playoffs consist of four rounds of best-of-seven series between the 16 teams that qualify for the postseason. The playoffs typically run from April to June.
The number of games played in the postseason varies from team to team depending on how far they progress in the tournament. The first round of the playoffs sees the top three teams from each division and two wild-card teams from each conference compete in best-of-seven series. The winners of each series advance to the second round, where they compete in another best-of-seven series.
The third round, also known as the conference finals, features the winners of the second-round series from each conference competing in a best-of-seven series. The winners of the conference finals advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they compete in a best-of-seven series for the ultimate prize – the Stanley Cup.
Overall, the NHL postseason is an exhilarating time for fans and players alike, with each game having significant implications and the potential to decide the fate of a team’s season.
Changes to NHL Schedule
Over the years, the NHL schedule has undergone several changes in terms of the number of games played, the format of the playoffs, and the timing of the season.
In the early days of the NHL, teams played a significantly fewer number of games compared to the current schedule. The league expanded the number of games played per team from 70 to 82 in 1995, and this has remained the standard since then.
The format of the playoffs has also undergone changes over the years. From the 1970s to the early 1990s, the NHL playoffs consisted of 16 teams playing in best-of-five series. In 1994, the league switched to a best-of-seven format for all playoff series, and this format has remained in place since then.
The timing of the NHL season has also been subject to change. In recent years, the league has moved towards starting the season earlier in October and finishing earlier in June, with the aim of reducing the number of back-to-back games for teams.
Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about significant changes to the NHL schedule. The 2020-21 season saw the league implement a shortened 56-game schedule, which was played entirely within the teams’ respective divisions. The playoffs were also modified, with the first two rounds featuring only divisional matchups. The 2021-22 season returned to a full 82-game schedule, but the league continued to implement various COVID-related protocols.
Impact of COVID-19 on NHL Season
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the NHL season since its outbreak in early 2020. The NHL was forced to suspend its 2019-20 season in March 2020 due to the pandemic, with the playoffs being held in a bubble in Edmonton and Toronto later that year.
The 2020-21 season saw the league implement various COVID-related protocols, including regular testing of players and staff, limited travel, and restricted access to team facilities. The schedule was also modified, with the league realigning the divisions to limit travel and implementing a shortened 56-game schedule played entirely within the teams’ respective divisions.
Despite the protocols, several teams experienced outbreaks of COVID-19, leading to the postponement of games and disruptions to the schedule. However, the NHL was able to complete the 2020-21 season and hold the playoffs, albeit with modifications to the format.
The 2021-22 season returned to a full 82-game schedule, but the league continued to implement COVID-related protocols, including regular testing and restrictions on team travel. However, as the pandemic continues to evolve, the NHL remains committed to implementing necessary measures to ensure the safety of players, staff, and fans while continuing to provide an entertaining and exciting product on the ice.