The NHL has rescheduled 95 games to be played from Feb. 7-22 in what would have been the Olympic break. In December, the league announced that players would not participate in Beijing this year because of an increasing number of COVID-19 disruptions.
The schedule update puts the league on track to complete its 82-game season on April 29, the original end date to the regular season. The updated schedule includes new dates for postponed games as well as date changes to other games.
What does it all mean? Changes to the schedule will impact Canadian teams the most. And Ottawa is getting the worst of it, as the Senators will play 10 games from Feb. 7-22:
Ottawa’s tough stretch
— Feb. 7: vs. Devils
— Feb. 8: vs. Hurricanes
— Feb. 10: vs. Penguins
— Feb. 12: vs. Bruins
— Feb. 13: at Capitals
— Feb. 15: vs. Blues
— Feb. 17: at Sabres
— Feb. 19: vs. Bruins
— Feb. 20: vs. Rangers
— Feb. 22: vs. Wild
Eight of the 10 games are against teams currently in playoff position, including the Bruins (twice), Hurricanes, Penguins, Capitals, Blues, Rangers and Wild. At least the Senators are playing most of the games at home, because adding travel on top of everything else would be cruel.
The Senators will play back-to-back games three times. The toughest spots are fairly obvious. On Feb. 13, they’ll play their fifth game in seven days when they visit the Capitals in Washington. Two days later, they’ll play their sixth game in nine days when they host the Blues. And before this hellacious run comes to an end, they’ll once again play their sixth game in nine days when the Rangers come to town.
Other teams most affected by the new schedule include the Maple Leafs, Jets, Oilers and Hurricanes, who will each play eight games from Feb. 7-22.
The Jets will also play six games in nine days, which will end against the Oilers in Winnipeg on Feb. 19. Before that, they’ll play their fifth game in seven days against the Kraken.
These are rare schedule spots that put teams at a big disadvantage, and bettors should be aware. Oddsmakers will do their best to account for the negative effects of these spots, so there’s no guarantee you’ll find value. With that being said, oddsmakers do have trouble pricing these situations from time to time, and that’s why it will be important to stay up to date with our daily NHL betting market report. We’re halfway through the season, but there’s still a lot of hockey left.
Josi (12-1) has some value for Norris Trophy
Roman Josi sits third among defenders in points with 42 in 41 games played, behind Victor Hedman and Adam Fox.
About a month ago, I recommended Hedman to win the Norris Trophy at around 8-1, and now he’s sitting at 4-1. In my mind, he’s the favorite, as I believe the writers that vote on the award will put stock in how he’s turned his game around after last season. He’s been a force on the ice, and he’s been very durable. The market puts Fox at shorter odds than Hedman, and Cale Makar is the current favorite.
And then there’s Josi, who sits at 12-1 at DraftKings. The Predators are in a good position to make the playoffs, and Josi is the team leader in points. He has the offensive production, and his team is on an upward trajectory. If he keeps scoring at or near this pace, and Juuse Saros stays healthy, Josi should get votes when the time comes, and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t get some first-place votes. If he finishes with more points than Hedman and Fox, which could happen, he’ll almost certainly be in the running to be named the league’s best defender.