The NHL released the 2014-15 schedule on Sunday, unleashing a floodgate of observations for all 30 teams. There are plenty of games to get excited about, yet some stand out more than others, at least for national audiences. Hockey fans would be wise to pay special attention to these 14 dates during the upcoming campaign (just 108 days away).
Note: a few of these entries are based on reports, so outdoor games/special theme days like Hockey Day in America may vary.
Oct. 8 – The season begins with a four-game slate, including the Los Angeles Kings hosting the San Jose Sharks while raising their 2014 Stanley Cup banner (ouch).
Oct. 11 – The first of two weekends (the other being the last day of the season) in which all 30 teams play.
Oct. 16 – Milan Lucic gets his first chance to, uh, face Dale Weise and the Montreal Canadiens.
Nov. 26 – Martin St. Louis and the New York Rangers visit the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Nov. 28 – “Black Friday” presents a hefty 11-game slate of games, which could help distract you from all the hasty purchases you made earlier in the day.
Nov. 29 – The Blackhawks visit the Kings for their first game since that classic seven-game series.
Jan. 8 – Kings host the Rangers in the first of two games between the 2014 Stanley Cup finalists.
Jan. 16 – For the first time ever, Barry Trotz will coach the visiting team at Bridgestone Arena as his new team the Washington Capitals visit the Nashville Predators.
Jan. 22 – 26 – The All-Star break in Columbus. One would single out the game alone, yet the skills competition is often the real highlight.
Feb. 14 – Potentially Hockey Day in Canada, according to Awful Announcing’s Steve Lepore.
Feb. 21 – Perhaps a sensible time for the Sharks to host the Kings in an outdoor game?
Also on the day – Peter Laviolette’s Predators visit the Philadelphia Flyers.
Feb. 22 – Potentially Hockey Day in America, also according to Lepore. If correct, it would make sense; all-American matchups on that day include Washington – Philadelphia, Chicago – Boston, Nashville – Buffalo, Florida – Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay – Colorado, Rangers – Columbus and Dallas – Minnesota.
April 11 – The regular season ends with all 30 teams playing during a Saturday extravaganza. Any last-minute races can be decided in dramatic fashion.
April 11 also represents the final New York Islanders regular season game at Nassau Coliseum, as they’ll move to Brooklyn in 2015-16.