How to Watch NHL Season Opener
The Tampa Bay Lightning look to repeat as champions outside of the NHL bubble. GETTY IMAGES

If you thought the NHL 2019-20 disrupted bubble season was unprecedented, just wait for what's in store for this season. First thing to know is that the season is shortened to 56 games from the usual 82 and there will be no bubble. Teams will be playing in there home arenas. Maybe the most unusual and impactful change this season is the expansion of the playoffs to 16 teams and the realignment of the divisions. Teams are realigned in the hopes of limiting travel as much as possible. To start, there will be little to no fans in the stands but some arenas are allowing about 25 percent capacity essentially aligning with the protocols individual teams took in the NFL regular season based on their state guidelines.

Because of the COVID-19 travel restrictions in place in Canada, the North Division will be realigned to all Canadian teams. Can the drought of a Canadian team winning the Cup for the first time since 1993 end with this realignment? They will only play teams in this division and will not play an American team until the playoffs. Hopefully things are much better by then when the playoffs start. Also we have awesome new reverse retro jerseys to look forward to and the first ever Outdoor Games in Lake Tahoe. The regular season ends on May 8 and the playoffs will run into July. Hockey is back baby.

What TV Channel is the NHL Season Opener on?

The three primetime nationally televised games will be shown on NBCSN. First puck drop is between instate rival Pittsburgh Penguins-Philadelphia Flyers at 5:30 p.m. ET. You can live stream NHL Games on fuboTV.

How to Watch Penguins-Flyers

When: Wednesday, January 13
Where: Wells Fargo Center - Philadelphia, PA
Time: 5:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: fuboTV (watch NHL free with fuboTV)

These two play in by far the most difficult division in the league. The Flyers and Bruins are the best in the East. Boston will still be great even though the legendary Zdeno Chara left for Washington making the Capitals the most intriguing they've been since winning it all in 2018. Last season the Islanders made their first Conference Finals since the 1992-93 season.

The Rangers won't be good this year earning the first pick in the October draft picking Alexis Lafrenière. You're going to hear that name for some time to come. With the Islanders and future Rangers, hockey is making a comeback in New York. The Penguins aren't going to be bad this season but they aren't going to be anywhere near their dominance they displayed through the past decade.  

How to Watch Blackhawks-Lighting

When: Wednesday, January 13
Where: Amalie Arena - Tampa Bay, FL
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Live Stream: fuboTV (watch NHL free with fuboTV)

You could easily say the same thing about the Pens as you could for the Blackhawks, not to mention the Red Wings. Both Chicago and Detroit ranked 12th and 16th respectively in their Conference rankings. The tides are finally turning in the NHL. A Florida team just won the Stanley Cup and the Lightning have as great of a chance to repeat. At the very least they are the favorites to finish at the top of the Central Division.

Tampa's best player, Brayden Point, is still only 24 years old proving everyone wrong being drafted in the third round. He led the playoffs last season in goals and he scored the cup-clinching goal to beat the Dallas Stars in Game 6 of the Finals. He has an insiders chance to win the Conn Smythe and supported by the future hall of famer Steve Stamkos, the Lightning should be able to keep up their offensive firepower.

With the Rays making the World Series and Tom Brady rolling his way through the playoffs, southwest Florida has sneakily become the center of attention in the U.S. sports world. After losing in the first round in the 2019 playoffs (after being the best team in the league by a long shot) they more than exercised their playoff demons in 2020 giving them even more momentum to keep that spotlight focused in Tampa Bay.

How to Watch Avalanche-Blues

When: Wednesday, January 13
Where: Enterprise Center- St. Louis, MO
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: fuboTV (watch NHL free with fuboTV)

To end the evening, the 2019 Cup winners take on the Colorado Avalanche who many see as early favorites to win it all this year. The Avs were stymied by injuries, missing their starting goalie Philipp Grubauer most of the playoffs and were an overtime away in Game 7 against the Stars to making it the Western Conference Finals. Gru is back and healthy and they are led by the favorite to win the Conn Smythe award in Nathan MacKinnon and 2019-20 rookie of the year Cale Makar. They haven't won the Cup since 2001 but this Colorado team is going to be good for sometime to come.

As for the Blues, they were just as good in the regular season as they were when they won the cup winning the Central division last season. But they were inexplicably bounced in the first round of the playoffs in six games to the inferior Vancouver Canucks. They should make it back to the playoffs at the very least but will face tough challenges by the Avs and the Vegas Golden Knights in the realigned West division. Let the craziness of the realigned NHL season and schedule commence.