Sports | February 13, 2021 6:30 am

New NHL Schedule Format Leading to Increase in Fights This Season

With teams playing series of anywhere from two to five games against the same opponent, animosity is running high

New NHL Schedule Format Leading to Increase in Fights This Season
Ryan Reaves of the Golden Knights and Nicolas Deslauriers of the. Ducks fight.
Getty Images

With the NHL divided into four divisions and all games happening between clubs within those divisions in order to cut down on travel due to COVID-19, teams are seeing the same opponents on a regular basis.

Thanks to the new alignment, teams are playing series of anywhere from two to five games against the same opponent before moving on to face fresh competition. And, as the old saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt.

Though fighting dropped to an all-time low in the NHL’s last full season in 2018-19, fights are coming back with a vengeance so far during this campaign thanks to the realignment of the divisions.

Already this season there have been 37 fights, and only two of the league’s 31 teams haven’t had at least one, according to The Associated Press.

“There’s a little bit of bad blood that goes on between games,” Tampa Bay’s Anthony Cirelli told the AP. “The more and more we play teams, the emotions are high and these are the fun ones to play in because it kind of replicates that playoff kind of hockey.”

Expect the bad blood to continue to flow as every point is vitally important with only four playoff spots up for grabs in each of the league’s redesigned divisions.

“It’s competitive and it’s intense,” said Vancouver rookie Adam Gaudette. “It’s a lot of fun playing in these important, competitive games. Every series means something. That’s the way it’s going to be all year.”