Our four month nightmare is finally, officially, indsputably over. The two sides, both of whom ratified the new collective bargaining agreement this week, finally signed a Memorandum of Understanding late on Saturday night. Their doing so will facilitate the opening of training camps across the league on Sunday.
Shortly after that news broke, the Canucks made their schedule for the 48 game 2013 NHL season public. Oh also, in case you care, the Canucks can sign players and make trades once the clock strikes 9 PM in the Pacific Time Zone. So yeah, buckle up.
Game on! We break down the schedule somewhat on the other side of the jump.
So here’s a quick breakdown on the schedule. The Canucks will play 18 of their 48 games against other Northwestern Division teams. That’s five games against each of the Oilers and the Flames, and four games apiece against the Wild and the Avalanche. They’ll play the remaining ten teams in the Western Conference three times a piece in a sprint to the postseason.
You might recall that the Canucks said they were very happy with their travel plans in the original schedule, the one that was slowly butchered as the lockout extended through the fall. Presumably they’ll be happy with this one too, and in particular the expected lack of East Coast swings. The team’s longest road-trip will last five games in April – the same length as in the original schedule, actually – and will take them through Calgary, Denver, Nashville, St. Louis and Dallas over the course of eight days.
In terms of "game density" the Canucks will play 48 games in 99 days in the revised 2013 schedule, compared with 82 games in 182 games in the original version released last June. That’s basically a game every 2.06 days now, compared with a game every 2.21 days in a normal schedule. Obviously that’s not a huge difference, but the Canucks are an aging team and some of their key players are coming off of injury (for example: Daniel Sedin, Alex Edler and Jason Garrison for example) so every marginal bump in game frequency could challenge the club’s depth. The team will also be challenged with a hectic pace right off hte bat as the club will play seven games in the first eleven days of the season…
Other points of interest: the Canucks will appear on Hockey Night in Canada eight times (down from fifteen in their original schedule), and will only play in two matinees during the season after experimenting with several in 2011-12.
The game that Canucks fans, and I’m really just speaking for myself here, is the February 1st contest at home against the Chicago Blackhawks. That matchup between blood rivals will be carried on TSN, and will mark Duncan Keith’s first game in Vancouver since he threw that unconscionable elbow at Daniel Sedin’s head and knocked Vancouver’s star winger out for thirteen games with a pretty serious concussion. Expect some mayhem.
Another game that I’ll be marking my calender for comes just three days earlier, as the Canucks face the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings on the tail end of a three game roadie.
In terms of free-agents, and Luongo trade scuttlebutt – there’s isn’t much out there in the ehter at the moment. But I’ll be updating the blog with any roster moves, credible rumours or other news into the wee hours. So check back periodically will you?