There’s a bit of housekeeping news to discuss today, with the schedule for the 2014-15 NHL season having been released. While we have no idea who the lineup will consist of for the Vancouver Canucks when they open the season on October 8th, exactly, at least we know their opponent: the Calgary Flames.
There’s still a long, long time to go until on-ice hockey is back on our television sets and in our daily lives – 108 days, for those scoring at home – but if you’re even remotely as much of a fiend for it as I am, you miss it already. Which means that it’s harmless to look ahead based on what we do know.
Some news and notes after the jump.
All we know so far is that the season opener comes on October 8th, in Calgary, in which they’ll take on a Flames squad that they stirred things up with physically (and then some) whenever they met last season:
b) Then came the knuckle-dragging spectacle at Rogers Arena during a game on January 18th, ultimately culminating in 5 fights, 8 ejections, and 152 combined penalty minutes after just two seconds had gone off of the clock.
c) And finally, in the final game of the season for both teams, Paul Byron took Daniel Sedin into the boards from behind, resulting in a scary sight when Sedin had to be stretchered off of the ice. After the game John Tortorella, who you may or may not remember depending on how adept you are at repressing memories, went off on Bob Hartley.
All of it was something of a microcosm for the Canucks and their ’13-’14 season, as they stooped to uncustomary levels and became more of a sideshow than anything else. The “moral victories” gag certainly jumped the shark after a while, but it was initially born out of a place that was so very different from what we’d come to expect over the past handful of seasons. Whether any of that continues moving forward we shall see, but just keep in mind that Brian McGrattan and Tom Sestito are still both under contract next season and likely figure into the plans for both squads.
UPDATE: The full schedule has officially been released. Some additional notes, in point form:
·A few days after the season opener in Calgary, the Canucks will host their home opener against the Edmonton Oilers on a Saturday night.
·The Canucks couldn’t have dreamed for a softer start to the season. Over the course of their first 13 games, they’ll play the Oilers three times, the Flames, the Predators, the (poster children for regression) Avalanche twice, and four games against the Eastern Conference.
·Things’ll get a lot tougher after that midway through November, when they go through California for the first time. If you’ll recall they were 2-8-3 against the Kings, Ducks, and Sharks combined last season. It’ll be hard to make it back to the playoffs if they repeat that sort of showing against their Pacific Division rivals again.
·There’s a 7-game Eastern Conference road trip in there which spans the end of November-to-early December. As soon as they get home, Alain Vigneault and the New York Rangers come to town to greet them for their one and only visit to Vancouver this season.
·There’s only 12 back-to-backs on the schedule this coming season, which is a nice little reprieve from the brutal 17 “schedule losses” they had to endure last year.
·It’s tough to go through the schedule and pick games to “mark on your calendar”, because everyone values particular matchups and storylines in a unique fashion. Plus now that we’re getting in the rhythm of facing each team at least twice in a given season no matter what, there’s plenty of opportunity to see some of the stars out East that we used to see far less frequently in the past.
Stamkos comes to town on October 18th, Ovechkin comes to town just a few days later on the 26th, Crosby and Malkin will grace us with their presence on February 7th, and finally, the Leafs will be here on March 14th. There’s also the return of Roberto Luongo to Rogers Arena on January 8th, and it’ll be pretty cool to see the reaction he elicits from a crowd that may otherwise very well be in their doldrums by that point in the year.
·There are no TSN games, obviously, which means no Ray Ferraro and Chris Cuthbert. That’s a shame.
Any other things stick out to you, in particular?