This is SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NHL. Each week, SB Nation sends out questions to the most plugged in St. Louis Blues fans, and fans across the country. Sign up here to join Reacts.
The 2021 season already looks different. Teams are playing in brand new divisions, paring them off against both teams they have almost no history against and reigniting dormant rivalries from years ago.
A few new divisional matchups rise above the rest. According to the most recent SB Nation Reacts survey, 47 percent of fans think having the Canadiens and Maple Leafs play as regularly as they are will make for the best rivalry this year. That is trailed by 17 percent fans who think reuniting the Bruins and Flyers will be best and 12 percent that picked the Blackhawks and Red Wings. The Blues and Avalanche earned 11 percent of the vote, which is sad, because those are the two teams who may be most closely fighting for the top of the Western Division. Then again, they’re not a traditional rivalry like every other one listed. Sure, the Blackhawks and Red Wings may be bottom of the barrel in the Central, but that rivalry goes back to the Stone Age. Bad teams can hate each other too.
History between teams isn’t the only thing that may create an exciting rivalry through the season. One of the changes to the 2021 season is scheduling teams to play back-to-back games against each other.
Fans were asked if this new rule would increase resentment between teams. Nearly a full 100 percent believe it will. This baseball style schedule hasn’t bred a lot of resentment for the Blues yet, if you’re going by their game two record, but as the season goes on, it’ll be hard to imagine that the Blues and Avalanche aren’t going to go back and forth a few times.
One thing that isn’t expected to play much of a role this year according to fans is changing travel plans. Because of the new divisions, some teams will play nearly their entire schedule within a short bus ride from their home city. While others are playing divisional games across the country. However, only about one-third of fans thing travel will have a bigger impact on this season than previous years.
Those 34% of survey respondents are more than likely fans of the two Florida teams now in the Central or fans of teams in the West. The travel for West Division teams across three time zones could be rough, but letting the teams stay in one place for a few nights could mitigate these problems.
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