The official schedules for the 2011-12 season were released today, with the obvious addition of a certain City Which Must Not Be Named. Overall, it looks like an exciting season to come.
Here are some general highlights:
– Opening Night is October 6 and features three matches: Flyers at Bruins, Canadiens at Leafs, and Penguins at Canucks.
– Three cities in Europe will host games between the Rangers, Ducks, Sabres and Kings: Stockholm, Helsinki and Berlin. Those games are scheduled for October 7 and 8.
– The All-Star Break is from Jan. 26-30.
– The busiest day of the season is April 7, with all 30 teams playing that day. That also happens to be the last day of the regular season.
Rather than go through 29 teams (I refuse to look at a certain schedule), I asked Emma if there were any teams she wanted me to highlight. Her choices were:
Anaheim Ducks – The Ducks open the season in Helsinki against the Sabres on October 7, with their home opener at the Honda Center against the Sharks on the 14th. They have two road stretches: 7-game trip from October 25 through November 5 and an 8-game trip February 10-23. They also face their opponents in this season’s playoffs, the Nashville Predators, for four games.
Boston Bruins – Your newly crowned Stanley Cup champs will have a very busy season. Besides being in one of the opening night matches, they meet the Blackhawks in a battle of Cup champions on October 15, play in Toronto for the Hall of Fame game on November 5 and play the Canucks in a Finals rematch of sorts on January 7. And I can’t think of a better way to kick off the season than to raise the Stanley Cup banner at TD Garden against the Flyers.
Chicago Blackhawks – My boys open their season on the road in Dallas on October 7, and then travel back to Sweet Home Chicago for their home opener against the Stars the next night. They also have a 9-game, 19-day stretch that starts in Vancouver, criss-crosses the West and ends up in New York, Nashville and Columbus (I can see them salivating at the thought of more MarioKart action). Also of note: W city natives Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith won’t be making a homecoming this year – that team comes to the United Center in October for their only matchup against the Hawks.
New York Islanders – Calder Trophy nominee Michael Grabner and company open their season at home on October 8 against the Florida Panthers. How many times to they face their rivals, the New York Rangers? Six, including a game the day after Christmas. Our friend Vicky will be able to boo the W city [insert ridiculous name here]s at home on November 3 and April 5. Do it for Blueland, baby.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Pens fans will welcome back Sidney Crosby at their home opener against the Florida Panthers on October 11. For those who are curious, their HBO 24/7 rivalry with the Washington Capitals will be played out four times during the season – two in DC and two at home. One game of special interest: The Islanders play the Pens at Consol on March 27 (a Tuesday), which is a 7 p.m. game.
The schedules for all 30 teams can be found here. Better fire up the DVR and stock up on the popcorn, because dis gon be gud.