Expect no love to be lost on December 14th, when the Bruins roll into town.
When it comes to the hockey world these days, I think it’s safe to say that things could be more exciting. We’ve officially entered the "dog days of summer", as the news trickling in has been few and far between. This stretch has been especially slow for Canucks fans, who have been eagerly waiting for something interesting to happen surrounding their team after since the relatively inactive free agency period; with apologies to Benn Ferriero and Brandon DeFazio.
Our saving grace has arrived! No, it’s not a resolution to the Roberto Luongo situation. But it’s still something that we can collectively sink our teeth into: the 2013-14 schedule, which was released by the NHL on this lovely Friday morning.
For some, this will fly under the radar as they really couldn’t care less about these sorts of things while they’re gearing up for a day at the beach in the middle of July. But for others, this provides an opportunity to start getting ready for the upcoming season; you can now begin to get excited about certain match-ups, and start circling your calendars for certain games you may wish to attend.
Read on past the jump for a closer look at some of the key dates.
A quick reminder: don’t be alarmed if you can’t locate the Northwest Division as look through the list of teams, because, well, you shouldn’t be able to locate it. It doesn’t exist anymore. With the new realignment set to take place this coming season, the Canucks will still obviously be in the Western Conference, but will now be competing in the Pacific Division comprised of 6 other teams (Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and San Jose).
The link above actually has a fairly succint breakdown of how things will work, but I’ll sum it up once again on this platform. Basically they’ll play 5 of their newesly established division rivals 5 times, while playing 1 of them on only 4 occasions. They’ll play the 7 members of the Central Division (Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg) 3 times each, as well. Finally, they’ll go up against each squad in the Eastern Conference 2 times (once home, once away). Say what you will about this new format, but I love the fact that we’ll get to see every team up close and personal as often as we will.
In terms of playoff berths, the top 3 teams in each division earn a spot. Then, the next 2 best teams – regardless of which division they’re in – get in as "Wild Cards". You better get used to this new system, because it’s here to stay for at least the next three seasons.
The Key Dates/Notes
- Training Camp opens on September 11th (with preseason games beginning just 2 days later).
- Regular Season begins for the Canucks in San Jose on October 3rd, which if you’ll recall, is the place we last saw them.
- By the month: 15 games in October (6 H, 9 A), 13 in November (7 H, 6 A), 13 in December (7 H, 6 A), 15 in January (8 H, 7 A), 6 in February (2 H, 4 A), 14 in March (6 H, 8 A), and 6 in April (5 H, 1 A).
- The Canucks haven’t exactly drawn themselves the easiest of starts, as they see their season kick off with 9 of the first 13 games on the road (including a 7-game trip out East).
- The Big Bad Boston Bruins come into town on December 14th, which will be part of Hockey Night in Canada. For me, that’s probably the game caught my eye right off the bat. At least in terms of one particular match-up. What excites me the most about the schedule is definitely getting to see some of the stars from Eastern Conference up close and personal (i.e. Tavares, Stamkos, Crosby, Malkin, and Ovechkin).
- Speaking of Hockey Night in Canada: the Canucks will be on CBC 15 times this season. One of those will come on March 2nd, when the Canucks host the Ottawa Senators in the Tim Hortons Heritage Classic set to be played at BC Place.
- By my count, the Canucks will have 17 back-to-back scenarios this year.
- The longest home-stand comes in the middle of November, as they’ll be playing 6 straight games in the friendly confines of Rogers Arena. Though I’d be weary of chalking those games up as wins; the opposition during that stretch is rather daunting.
- The New Jersey Devils come into town just 4 games into the season, on October 8th. What type of reaction do you think Cory Schneider gets? That should be a fun one to take in, despite the fact that the Devils will be putrid.
- The Canucks close out the season with 6 of their final 7 games at home, facing the likes of Anaheim (twice), Calgary, Edmonton, and Colorado. There will be plenty of time for predictions later, but I don’t think the Canucks will be all that impressive this season. As of right now, I have them squeaking into the playoffs, which means that the final home stretch (pun intended) could prove to be a crucial one.
- You’ll also notice that there are no games scheduled from February 9th to the 25th, with the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics officially being given the green light by the NHL.
Give yourself some time to soak it all in, since this is all you’re probably getting in terms of entertaining news for the forseeable future. Having that time might not be the worst thing though, especially after that helter skelter whirlwind of a condensed season we just finished up. Refresh, reenergize, and then let’s get back at it.
What say you? Which games are you looking forward to the most?