While NHL season has just ended, the KHL pre-season is slowly getting underway. Teams have begun their physicals and shortly after on-ice practices will start taking place. The league has also announced the schedule for the upcoming season.
With no surprises – the KHL season will start on September 1st with an ”Opening Cup” game between CSKA Moscow and Avangard Omsk.
𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟭-𝟮𝟮 𝗞𝗛𝗟 𝘀𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗼𝗻 𝘀𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗱𝘂𝗹𝗲 𝗶𝘀 𝗼𝘂𝘁!
— KHL (@khl_eng) July 9, 2021
672 games in 130 game days
The 2021-2022 regular season starts on Wednesday, Sep. 1 with the Opening Cup game between Avangard and CSKA in Balashikha. The following day sees Ak Bars, Lokomotiv, Neftekhimik, Severstal, Torpedo, Spartak, and Sochi play their first home games. The first stage of the championship will conclude with nine games on March 1. In total there will be 130 game days.
In this Olympic season, each of the 24 clubs will play 56 games: two against every opponent (46 games) and a further 10 encounters with rivals from the same conference.
In line with the IIHF’s international calendar, the KHL schedule has paused for two stages of the Euro Hockey Tour: Nov. 8-14 (in Finland) and Dec. 13-19 (In Russia). From Jan. 22 to Feb. 21, 2022, the KHL will pause to allow national teams to prepare and compete at the Winter Olympic Games. The sole exception is a game between Dinamo Minsk and Dinamo Riga, scheduled for Jan. 23. There are further breaks planned for the KHL All-Star Game (Jan. 15-16) and the New Year holidays (Dec. 31 – Jan. 1).
The Olympic pause brings a significant reduction in possible game days compared with previous seasons (in 2020/21 there were 142 game days). Despite this, the league managed to spread the games evenly through the season. The average games per day are up slightly compared with last season, from a record low of 4.86 to 5.1. In the last Olympic season in 2017/18, there were 5.21 games per day.
When drawing up the schedule, the KHL always strives to give every team equal conditions, particularly in terms of the rhythm of home games and road trips. This includes both the length of trips and the number of rest days. In addition, the schedulers look to create the easiest travel logistics for each team.
In the upcoming season several teams – particularly Ak Bars, Dynamo Moscow, Jokerit, and Spartak – have more non-hockey commitments in their arenas. In accommodating this, we have maintained the best possible rhythm of home and away games for these teams but on occasion, it is necessary to set up isolated road games against nearby opposition or play back-to-back games in the same arena. There are nine instances of this in total.
Each year, the league strives to reduce the number of days without a game while maintaining maximum efficiency for teams’ logistics. In 2021-2022 there are just three, equalling the all-time record from the 2019/20 season.
Due to the Olympic pause, each team will have the opportunity for extended preparations ahead of the decisive games of the regular season. This feature is reflected in the schedule, and after the Games, each team will play four games with at least one on home ice (Kunlun Red Star is an exception to this, heading out on a tour of the Far East). This enables fans in every city of the KHL to see their teams in person after a one-month break.
The post-season is set to begin on March 4th and game 7 of the Gagarin Cup final (if required) is scheduled for April 30th.
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The league will be divided into two conferences and four divisions and they are as follow:
Vityaz Podolsk, Jokerit Helsinki, SKA St.Petersburg, Spartak Moscow, Torpedo Nizhny-Novgorod, HK Sochi
Dinamo Minsk, Dynamo Moscow, Dinamo Riga, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, Severstal Cherepovets, CSKA Moscow
Avtomobilist Jekaterinburg, AkBars Kazan, Kunlun Red Star, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Neftehimik Nizhnekamsk, Traktor Chelyabinsk
Avangard Omsk, Admiral Vladivostok, Amur Khabarovsk, Barys Nur-Sultan, Salavat Julaev Ufa, Sibir Novosibirsk