Rangers open scary NHL schedule with two games vs. Islanders

In a year unlike any other, Rangers will watch back-to-back games against the Islanders to start the season, endure a four-game stretch against the Devils in mid-April and end the cut-off season 2020-21 with games against the capitals and bruins.

Rangers are in the middle of what is probably the most competitive of all four divisions, which were converted to minimize travel in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and joined the Islanders, Devils, Bruins, Sabers, Flyers, Penguins and Capitals in east.

And with the condensed 56-game schedule, there are hardly any easy stretches.

To kick off the 2020-21 season, Rangers will host the islanders in back-to-back games at Madison Square Garden on January 14 and 16. This will be the third time in franchise history that Rangers open the regular season against Islands.

With teams in the East, Central and West having to face every other team in its division eight times, the Rangers and Islanders meet six times more throughout the season. Teams in the Northern Division, made up of all the Canadian teams, play every other team nine or ten times.

The Rangers host the Islanders again on February 8, before traveling to the Nassau Coliseum – in its final season as the Islanders’ home before the Belmont Arena opens – for three games in April. The Isles are set to return to MSG again on April 29, before meeting the Rangers for the last time on May 1 on Long Island.

While most games are scheduled in blocks of one or two games, Blueshirts will play four-straight against Devils from 13-18. April, where both teams have hosted twice. The four-game stretch against New Jersey is the longest on the Rangers’ schedule.

To end the normal 2020-21 season, Rangers play two games against both the Capitals and the Bruins.

The Islanders are ready to play seven of their first nine games in January on the way. Like the Rangers’ schedule, most of Isle’s games are arranged in single or two-game draws.

At the end of March, the Isles face what is probably the hardest part of their schedule in terms of competition and travel. After flying to Washington for back-to-back games on March 15 and 16, the Islanders then hosted the Flyers in two games a few days later.

The Islanders are then set to split four straight games on the road against the Bruins and Penguins, two teams that won at least 40 games during the 2019-20 regular season.

With the 2020-21 regular season beginning Jan. 13, the NHL rolled out a five-game slate that will include Lightning, lifting their second Stanley Cup championship banner before meeting the Blackhawks in Tampa Bay.

The NHL aims for this upcoming season to end on May 8, and the playoffs end before July 9th. The league’s ultimate goal is to return to a “normal” hockey calendar for the 2021-22 season, which begins in October.