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Toughest realigned NHL division debated by NHL.com – NHL.com

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The NHL realigned its divisions for the 2020-21 season, which will start Jan. 13, 2021, and have each team playing a condensed 56-game intradivisional schedule.

The Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals will play in the East Division.

The Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning will compete in the Central Division.

The Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues and Vegas Golden Knights will be in the West Division.

The Montreal Canadiens, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets will play in the North Division.

[RELATED: NHL season to start Jan. 13, play 56 gamesNHL realigns for 2020-21 season]

The top four teams in each division will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

We asked four NHL.com staff writers which division should be considered the toughest. Here are their answers:

North Division

The quality of this division is clear by looking at the list of recent NHL award winners. Oilers center Leon Draisaitl won the Hart Trophy voted as the MVP of the NHL last season and also won the Art Ross Trophy as the scoring champion. Teammate Connor McDavid, who I believe is the most talented player in all of hockey, won the Hart in 2017. Connor Hellebuyck of the Jets won the Vezina Trophy voted as top goalie last season, and Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes finished second to Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. Hughes’ teammate, forward Elias Pettersson, won the Calder in 2019. From a team standpoint, there are no weak ones here. Six of the seven made it to the Stanley Cup Qualifiers last season. The one that didn’t, the Senators, had a productive offseason, adding forwards Evgenii Dadonov and Alex Galchenyuk as free agents. Ottawa selected forward Tim Stuetzle with the No. 3 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and acquired forward Austin Watson, defenseman Erik Gudbranson and goalie Matt Murray in trades. Any one of the Oilers, Canucks, Jets, Maple Leafs, Canadiens and Flames could win the division, yet two won’t make the playoffs. That’s how tough it is. — Mike Zeisberger, staff writer

Central Division

I am shocked — shocked — that Zeisberger went with the division made up of the teams based in Canada. It’s not a shock that I’m going with the Central, being that I have covered most of the teams in the division for the past 10 seasons. The Central this season will include the defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning, the Cup runner-up Stars and the always exciting and interesting Hurricanes. I’m curious to see how the Panthers play for Joel Quenneville, a longtime Central coach with the Blackhawks, entering his second season as coach. The Predators are looking to bring a more physical game, as evidenced by their offseason signings of forward Nick Cousins and defensemen Mark Borowiecki and Matt Benning. The Blue Jackets play good, blue-collar hockey. And if you love a good old rivalry, the Blackhawks and Red Wings are reunited, with Detroit coming over from the Atlantic. I don’t know if it will have the animosity of years past, but it’s two Original Six teams trying to recapture past glory. Bring on the fun in the Central. — Tracey Myers, staff writer

West Division

The Blues, Avalanche and Golden Knights finished 1-2-3 in the West last season. Not the West Division. The Western Conference. The Blues and Avalanche were second and third in the NHL standings, respectively, behind the Bruins. The Golden Knights were eighth. That’s strength. By shifting the Blues to the West, the NHL created a monster of a division and added intrigue. Former Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo signed as a free agent with the Golden Knights on Oct. 12 and plays his former team eight times in division games, and the Blues signed a free agent defenseman of their own, Torey Krug, from the Bruins. Vegas went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2018, St. Louis won the Cup in 2019, and Colorado is a Cup contender. Now add the Coyotes and Wild, who made the 2020 postseason, and rivalries like the Golden Knights vs. the Sharks and the Ducks vs. the Kings. Yes, West is best. — Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist

East Division

You can have your North, Central and West, I’m sticking with my East (Coast) bias. This is one tough division, with some old stalwarts, some up-and-comers and some intense rivalries. Four of the top seven teams by points percentage in the NHL in 2019-20 are in this division (Bruins, Capitals, Flyers and Penguins). And one that wasn’t up there, the Islanders, reached the Eastern Conference Final. That’s some heavy hockey at the top of this division. That doesn’t even account for up-and-coming teams like the Rangers, who will have forward Alexis Lafreniere, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft; the Sabres, who signed forward Taylor Hall as a free agent; and the Devils, who added goalie Corey Crawford in free agency. This is a division that’s going to be a heck of a lot of fun to watch, a rivalry-heavy behemoth with the chops to back it up. I’m glad I don’t have to play in the East, but it’ll sure be a treat to watch every night. — Amalie Benjamin, staff writer

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Corey Perry’s debut shows his acquisition is another win for Bergevin – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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Corey Perry’s addition to the Montreal Canadiens was always going to be interesting. He clearly had some value left to share, but he didn’t really have a place in the lineup on opening night. However when Tyler Myers concussed Joel Armia at the end of Thursday’s game, it opened the door for the NHL vet to step into the lineup, and onto the team’s hottest line.

He went ahead and made the most of it, a great sign that even at 35 years old, Perry can still bring it on the ice in a decent-sized role.

HockeyViz.com

In his 13:10 of five-on-five ice time (second on the team among forwards), Perry controlled just shy of 63% of the shots when he was on the ice. In his matchups, there were only two players he was below 50% against in terms of shot attempts: Nils Hoglander (42%) and Zack MacEwen (37%). Perhaps slightly more impressive is that against the big guns of J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser, and Elias Pettersson, Perry didn’t allow a single shot attempt against.

While he was on a line with Tyler Toffoli and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who have been outstanding in the series against Vancouver, Perry was able hold his own even if he did spend time away from both during the game. To cap it all off, Perry even added his first goal in a Canadiens jersey, which, despite being ugly in nature, still counts all the same on the scoreboard.

It’s moments like this that you can see how well Perry still reads the game at the NHL level, his head is up the whole way, and he knows exactly where his linemate is. He had a handful of these moments as the game wore on, including a beautiful bit of dangling to create a scoring chance for himself.

Perry’s speed and elite goal-scoring ability are long gone, but he provides more than that on the ice due to his hockey IQ. With Joel Armia out long-term, Montreal needs exactly this type of veteran to step up and play while giving them the best possible chance to win.

Marc Bergevin being able to secure a piece like Perry for nearly league minimum just in case the team needed some reinforcements is looking like another great bit of foresight. It’s been just one game, but it’s far more comforting to be adding a guy with over 1000 NHL games, than hoping a fringe AHL player can make an impact. With a deep Calgary team looming on the horizon, Montreal will be counting on more games like this one from Perry, and it seems like he’s got plenty left in the tank to oblige.

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Nate Diaz reacts to Conor McGregor’s KO loss to Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 – MMA Fighting

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As expected, Nate Diaz didn’t stay silent for long in regards to how Saturday’s lightweight headliner went down in Abu Dhabi.

In the main event of UFC 257, Dustin Poirier avenged his UFC 178 knockout loss to Conor McGregor with a spectacular finish of his own to cap off the promotion’s third trip to Fight Island in 2021. “The Diamond” stopped McGregor in the second round to pick up the biggest win of his career and likely set himself up for a lightweight championship opportunity.

Diaz, who became the first to finish McGregor in the UFC at UFC 196, took to Twitter on Sunday to give his quick reaction to McGregor’s first KO loss in the promotion.

The Stockton native hasn’t competed since UFC 244, when he fought Jorge Masvidal for the “BMF” belt and lost via doctor’s stoppage in the main event. Diaz didn’t have much to say throughout the buildup to the fight, but he did chime in after the very respectful face-off between the main event participants on Friday.

Diaz has always been attached to McGregor as one half of one of the sport’s most important rivalries. In their first of two meetings, Diaz replaced an injured Rafael dos Anjos in the main event of UFC 196 and submitted the former dual champion in the second round to pick up his biggest career win. McGregor bounced back five months later at UFC 202 and earned a very close split decision in the rematch.

While a trilogy fight with McGregor seems like one of the more intriguing options after the second loss in three fights for “The Notorious,” Poirier also expressed interest in fighting Diaz at Saturday night’s post-fight press conference.

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Dana White reveals fate of internet pirate he targeted for threatening to illegally stream UFC 257 – MMA Fighting

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UFC President Dana White loves a good fight, and nothing seems to fire him up more lately than going after online pirates who stream UFC events illegally.

Ahead of UFC 257 on Saturday night, White had personally targeted a particular streamer who’d actually taunted him on social media after his declaration that he was shutting down illegal streams for the event featuring Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier 2.

White said prior to the event that not only had the person threatening to broadcast the card been identified, but he said authorities were waiting to pounce on the illegal stream if the service went live on fight night.

Following Poirier’s second round knockout against McGregor to cap off the UFC’s first pay-per-view of 2021, White offered an update regarding his ongoing war.

“So let me tell you that story,” he said during the UFC 257 post-fight press conference. “The night, I guess it was I did an interview with BT [Sport] and then I think you asked me as the press conference and I basically said this is what’s going to happen. I told you guys that we found the guy and we were watching him.

“He put out a statement that night, said ‘I will not be streaming the McGregor vs. Poirier anymore, but I will show you how to buy it legally’ and put out this huge statement. Now his whole streaming service has been deleted and is gone. Disappeared. One down and sh*t load to go. I’m ready.”

In recent weeks, White has renewed his new mission to go after anybody pirating UFC events illegally. But this particular card piqued his interest because UFC 257 was expected to be one of the biggest cards of the year.

At the post-fight press conference, he said the event will likely go down as one of the two biggest pay-per-views in UFC history.

As far as deterring other online pirates stealing shows, the UFC president promises to take interest in one particular person with each and every event as he seeks to make an example out of anybody attempting to hijack his broadcast.

“Every event I’m going to go after one of these guys.” White said. “One of these or more, we’ll see.

“And who you are guy that did this, good move, we had you, pal. I don’t know if he knew or something but we had you. All you had to do was pop up that stream and you were in big trouble. He did the right thing.”

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