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Penguins slide back into the division that they never left

The latest projections show the Penguins playing old familiar rivals in 2021

Washington Capitals v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Last month, reports tied the Penguins into joining the NHL’s Central Division for 2021. Like so much of 2020, it has been subject to change, and apparently has with the NHL Board of Governors making tweaks to the initial idea:

This division makes sense for rivalry purposes, if not competitive balancing. It’s the whole usual Metropolitan Division, minus Carolina and Columbus but plus Buffalo and Boston. The Bruins were the top team in the regular season last year with a 44-14-12 record. Add in young additions to the Rangers and Flyers and that will be a very tough division for the Pens to compete in.

But it’s also a division that makes sense. It would have been a tough pill to swallow to not get to compete against or see any Pens/Flyers or Pittsburgh/Washington games. The NHL and their broadcast partners could have probably used Pittsburgh and Carolina split to balance out star power, but the old standard Pens vs. Flyers/Caps are national broadcast staples in their own rights.

The good news for fans is that news and reports of the NHL’s comeback should pick up a lot of steam in the coming days, as a flurry of calls and activity will be held and many important decisions are still to be made about the when and how a season will start.

It is expected, if all goes well, that the NHL will return with a 56 game intra-divisional schedule to begin on January 13th. But, as LeBrun noted in a later tweet, with the world we’re living in these days, everything is totally still subject to change.

What say you, happy about the Pens being placed with their traditional rivals? Even at the expense of playing in a very tough division? Or would you have preferred to see some new opponents in 2021?