On Friday, the NHL released its 2013-14 regular-season schedule and we here at PHT (okay, it’s just me) have identified five of the biggest highlights.
1) Six Outdoor Games
These contests will fall under three umbrellas: the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series (four games), the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic (one game) and the Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic (one game).
In chronological order, here’s when they’ll be played:
Jan. 1 — Toronto vs. Detroit at Michigan Stadium (Winter Classic)
Jan. 25 — Anaheim vs. Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium (Stadium Series)
Jan. 26 — New York Rangers vs. New Jersey at Yankee Stadium (Stadium Series)
Jan. 29 — New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders at Yankee Stadium (Stadium Series)
Mar. 1 — Pittsburgh vs. Chicago at Soldier Field (Stadium Series)
Mar. 2 — Ottawa vs. Vancouver at BC Place (Heritage Classic)
2) Opening night
Three games will be played on Tuesday, Oct. 1, beginning with the first contest of the year — a historic Original Six matchup between Toronto and Montreal.
That’ll be followed by Chicago vs. Washington at the United Center — featuring the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup banner-raising ceremony — and capped off with Edmonton at Winnipeg in the final game of the evening.
Of note, you can catch the ‘Hawks-Caps game on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET).
3) Closing weekend
Breaking from the “Super Saturday” theme of having all 30 teams play on the final day of the regular season, the NHL has opted to load up the final weekend — Saturday, Apr. 12 and Sunday, Apr. 13.
Saturday will feature 18 teams participating in nine games, while Sunday will have 20 teams partaking in 10 games.
Of note, the final game of the regular season will take place in Phoenix, as the Coyotes host the Stars at 9 p.m. ET.
4) Return of the Thanksgiving Showdown
This year’s schedule features the return of the league’s annual Black Friday game, as the Bruins will take on the Rangers at TD Garden in a day-after-Thanksgiving matinee (1 p.m. ET.)
The event began in 2011 (played between the Bruins and Red Wings) but was canceled last season due to the lockout. The Bruins and Rangers were slated to participate in the 2012 event.
5) The Olympic Break
The NHL will play 1,230 games this year, but none during a 16-day break from Feb. 9-25, during which NHLers will participate in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
This will mark the fifth consecutive winter games the NHL has participated in. Involvement dates back to the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, the first in which professional players were allowed to take part.