The National Hockey League (NHL) is one of the most popular professional sports leagues in North America. It features 32 teams from both the United States and Canada. As a fan, it’s important to know how many games are in an NHL season.
The NHL regular season typically runs from October to April, with each team playing a total of 82 games. This includes 41 games at home and 41 games on the road. The league is divided into two conferences, the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference, with each conference consisting of two divisions.
In order to determine which teams make the playoffs, the NHL uses a point system. Teams earn two points for a win, one point for an overtime or shootout loss, and zero points for a regulation loss. The top three teams from each division, as well as two wildcard teams from each conference, qualify for the playoffs. The playoffs consist of four rounds, with the winner of the final round being crowned the Stanley Cup champion.
NHL Season Structure
The NHL regular season is a grueling 82-game marathon that lasts from October to April. The season is divided into two conferences, the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference, with each conference having two divisions. Each team plays 41 home games and 41 away games, for a total of 82 games per team.
During the regular season, each team plays 26 games against the other teams in its division, 24 games against non-divisional teams in its own conference, and 32 games against teams in the other conference. This allows every team in the league to play every other team at least twice.
The regular season standings are determined by a point system, with two points awarded for a win, one point for an overtime or shootout loss, and zero points for a regulation loss. The top three teams in each division automatically qualify for the playoffs, while the remaining two playoff spots in each conference are awarded to the two teams with the most points who did not finish in the top three in their division.
The playoffs consist of four rounds of best-of-seven series, with the winner of each series advancing to the next round. The first two rounds of the playoffs are played within each division, with the division winner facing the wild card team and the second and third place teams facing each other. The third round of the playoffs, known as the conference finals, sees the winners of each division face off against each other, with the winner advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Stanley Cup Finals are also a best-of-seven series, with the winner being crowned the NHL champion. The Stanley Cup playoffs are widely considered to be one of the most grueling and exciting postseasons in all of sports.
In addition to the regular season and playoffs, each team also plays a series of preseason exhibition games to prepare for the regular season. These games are not included in the regular season standings and are often used to evaluate young players and try out new strategies.
Number of Games
The NHL regular season is a long and grueling journey for all of the teams involved. With 32 teams in the league, there are a total of 1,312 games played during the regular season. Each team plays 82 games, which is split up into 41 home games and 41 away games.
It is important to note that the 1,312 games played during the regular season does not include any preseason games or playoff games. Preseason games are exhibition games that take place before the start of the regular season. These games are not counted towards a team’s regular season record, but they are important for players to get back into game shape after the off-season.
When the regular season ends, the top 16 teams move on to the playoffs. The playoffs are a best-of-seven series, with the winner moving on to the next round until a champion is crowned. The number of playoff games played varies depending on how far a team goes in the playoffs.
Teams in NHL
The NHL has a total of 32 teams, with each team playing 82 regular season games. The teams are divided into two conferences, the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. Each conference is further divided into two divisions, with four teams in each division.
The teams in the NHL come from various cities across North America. Some of the most popular teams in the league are the New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators, Toronto Maple Leafs, and San Jose Sharks.
Other notable teams include the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Buffalo Sabres, Washington Capitals, Minnesota Wild, Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, Vegas Golden Knights, Florida Panthers, and Philadelphia Flyers.
Each team has a roster of players, which includes a mix of forwards, defensemen, and goaltenders. The players on each team are responsible for scoring goals, preventing goals, and making saves.
As an NHL fan, you may be interested in learning about the different arenas where games are played. There are currently 32 teams in the NHL, and each team has its own home arena. Some arenas are newer and more modern, while others have been around for decades.
One of the newest arenas in the NHL is UBS Arena, which opened in 2021 and is the home of the New York Islanders. This state-of-the-art arena is located in Elmont, New York, and has a seating capacity of 19,000. The Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay, Florida is another modern arena, having undergone a multi-million dollar renovation in 2011. It is the home of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
On the other hand, the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada is one of the oldest arenas in the NHL, having opened in 1996. This arena has a seating capacity of 21,273 and is the home of the Montreal Canadiens. Another older arena is Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, which opened in 2016 and is the home of the Edmonton Oilers.
In Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, the Rogers Arena is the home of the Vancouver Canucks. This arena opened in 1995 and has a seating capacity of 18,910. The Staples Center in Los Angeles, California is another well-known arena, being the home of both the LA Kings and the LA Clippers.
During the 2020-2021 season, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHL had to adjust its schedule and play games in neutral sites. The League was prepared to play games in one or more neutral site venues per division should it become necessary. However, for the 2021-2022 season, the NHL was able to resume playing games in their respective arenas.
Special NHL Events
In addition to the regular season and playoffs, the NHL hosts several special events throughout the year. These events are highly anticipated by fans and players alike, and often showcase some of the league’s top talent.
The NHL All-Star Game is an annual event that brings together the best players from each division to compete in a 3-on-3 tournament. The event is typically held in late January or early February, and features a skills competition the night before the game. The winning team of the All-Star Game receives a cash prize, while individual players can earn bonuses for their performance.
While NHL players do not regularly participate in the Olympics, the league has allowed its players to compete in the past. The most recent instance was in 2014, when the Winter Olympics were held in Sochi, Russia. The decision to allow NHL players to participate is typically made in conjunction with the NHL Players’ Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Stanley Cup Final
The Stanley Cup Final is the culmination of the NHL playoffs, and features the top team from the Eastern Conference facing off against the top team from the Western Conference. The series is a best-of-seven format, with the winner being crowned the Stanley Cup champion. The Stanley Cup Final is typically held in late May or early June, and is one of the most-watched sporting events in North America.
Stanley Cup Champions
The Stanley Cup champions are the team that wins the Stanley Cup Final. The championship is considered the ultimate prize in the NHL, and teams will often go to great lengths to secure a spot in the playoffs and compete for the Cup. The Stanley Cup champions are awarded the Cup itself, as well as individual championship rings for each member of the team.
The NHL Awards are an annual event that recognizes the top players, coaches, and executives in the league. The awards are typically held in late June, after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final. Awards include the Hart Memorial Trophy for the league’s most valuable player, the Vezina Trophy for the top goaltender, and the Calder Memorial Trophy for the top rookie.
Broadcasting and Coverage
The NHL season is broadcasted and covered by various media companies. ESPN is one of the major broadcasters of NHL games, having acquired the broadcasting rights in 2021. ESPN will broadcast 25 exclusive national regular-season games on ABC or ESPN, while an additional 75 games will stream on ESPN+ and Hulu. ESPN+ will also be streaming more than 1,000 games per season in addition to being the exclusive home of 75 national regular-season games.
In addition to ESPN, other broadcasters of NHL games include Turner Sports and NBC. Turner Sports acquired the broadcasting rights in 2021, and will broadcast games on TNT and TBS. NBC had been the primary broadcaster of NHL games in the United States, but lost the broadcasting rights to ESPN and Turner Sports.
The NHL also has its own streaming service called NHL.TV, which allows viewers to watch out-of-market games live or on-demand. However, with the new broadcasting rights deals, all out-of-market games were previously available through NHL.TV will now be available on ESPN+.
Impact of Covid on NHL Season
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the NHL season, causing delays, postponements, and changes to the schedule. The NHL had to pause the 2019-20 season due to the pandemic, and the 2020-21 season was shortened to 56 games, starting on January 13, 2021.
Several teams had to deal with COVID-19 outbreaks during the 2020-21 season, which led to game postponements and rescheduling. The Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes were among the teams that faced significant disruptions due to COVID-19 protocols. The NHL and NHLPA had to implement strict health and safety protocols to ensure the safety of players, coaches, and staff.
The rise in COVID-19 cases remained a concern throughout the 2021-22 season, leading to the postponement of several games. In December 2021, the Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators had to put their seasons on pause due to an increase in COVID-19 cases.
The NHL has continued to prioritize the health and safety of its players, staff, and communities while staging games during the pandemic. The league has implemented various measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including daily testing, mask mandates, and vaccination requirements.
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the NHL has managed to complete its seasons and crown champions. The 2021 Stanley Cup was won by the Tampa Bay Lightning, while the Colorado Avalanche won the 2022 Stanley Cup.
Frequently Asked Questions
When did the NHL go to 82 games?
The NHL went to an 82-game schedule for the regular season in 1995-96.
Why did the NHL play 84 games?
The NHL played an 84-game schedule for two seasons (1992-93 and 1993-94) to accommodate the addition of two expansion teams, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Ottawa Senators.
What is the length of an NHL season?
The length of an NHL season is typically 82 games, with each team playing 41 home games and 41 away games.
What is the NHL playoff bracket?
The NHL playoff bracket consists of 16 teams, with eight teams from each conference qualifying for the postseason. The top three teams from each division qualify, and the next two teams with the best records in each conference also make the playoffs.
What are the Original 6 NHL teams in order?
The Original 6 NHL teams are the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, and New York Rangers. They were the only teams in the NHL from 1942-43 until 1966-67.
What is the most points ever earned in an NHL season?
The most points ever earned in an NHL season is 132, achieved by the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens.