2013 NHL Shortened Season Structure Announced

Shane DarrowAnalyst IIJanuary 8, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05:  Following the NHL Board of Governors meeting, Commissioner Gary Bettman of the National Hockey League addresses the media at the Westin Times Square on December 5, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Tennessean reported earlier that NHL teams will open training camps no later than January 13, which means that January 19th is the likely date where the puck will be dropped for the first time on the 2013 NHL season.

After 113 days of a strenuous lockout, hockey fans can finally rejoice and know that there will be hockey this year, but now that the NHL season has been shortened from 82 games to 48, how will the season structure lay out?

Thankfully, TSN's Bob Mckensie sent out a tweet Tuesday afternoon which answered that question for all of us:

In a 48-game schedule, there'll be no play between conferences. East plays East and West plays West. But here's the schedule matrix for 48:

— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 8, 2013

Each team plays: 4 games vs. two Divisional opponents (8); 5 games vs. two divisional opponents (10); 3 games vs 10 Conference rivals (30).

— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 8, 2013

There are many interesting viewpoints on the way the season will work itself out. The first being that when the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals approach, the two teams participating will be facing each other for the first time all season, which should make for an interesting change of pace.

Another aspect of the schedule structure is that each team will play 20.66 percent of their season against the same two teams, which means that some teams could have a much easier road to the playoffs than others. Though there are teams with tougher schedules than others in every season, this aspect is glorified in a strike-altered schedule such as this. 

In the Eastern Conference, The Boston Bruins could get that chunk of their schedule against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens (who combined for only 158 points last season), whereas the Philadelphia Flyers could have that same chunk of their season against the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers (who combined for 217 points in 2011-12).

The Western Conference paints a similar picture, but not as drastically as the West is far more balanced with the exception of the now Rick Nash-less Columbus Blue Jackets.

Exact schedules are yet to be released.