Get out your red markers, it's time to circle dates on the calendar! The Winnipeg Jets, together with the National Hockey League, released their 2012-13 regular season schedule on Thursday, June 21. Assuming there the regular season starts on time (the current collective bargaining agreement expires on September 15), here is a month-by-month analysis of season two for the Jets 2.0.
OctoberThe Jets open the new season on Saturday, October 13 against the Carolina Hurricanes. Including the season-opener, the Jets play five of their first seven games at home, where they were 23-13-5 last season. Winnipeg native and 2010 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Toews leads the Chicago Blackhawks into the MTS Centre on Tuesday, October 16. Let's hope for a flying start!
NovemberThe Jets will be tested in November with nine road games, including a six-game East Coast swing -- the team's longest road trip of the season -- from November 17-27. Last season, the Jets were 14-22-5 away from the MTSC. The Jets close out the month on Thursday, November 29 at home against the rival Toronto Maple Leafs. If the Jets escape November at or above .500, it'll be a huge plus.
DecemberThe Jets begin and end the month of December with home dates against Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning. The traditional New Year's Eve game will be on Monday, December 31. Since the Jets will remain in the Southeast Division for 2012-13, these games could be key. Winnipeg plays an additional six games on home ice and five on the road in December, including three games against 2012 Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins (two away, one home).
JanuaryThe Jets start the new year with seven of their first nine games at home, including a season-long five-game homestand from January 11-19. They finish the month with four straight on the road. The Jets will want to take advantage of the schedule in the first-half of the month, as they'll mostly be playing Eastern Conference teams. Moreover, from mid-December to mid-January, the Jets play 12 of 17 games on home ice. They'll want to get as many points as possible during that stretch.
FebruaryThe Jets play six of the first eight games in February at home, with road games against the Florida Panthers and Maple Leafs. Conversely, they play five of the last six on the road, including a daunting five-game trip out West where they'll see the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. There will be no love lost when the Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames visit the MTSC on February 7, 17 and 28, respectively.
MarchA five-game road trip in early March could decide the Jets' season. They visit Florida, Tampa Bay and Washington during the stretch -- all of them may be batting for limited playoff births. Beware the ides of March when the New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins all visit MTS in the middle of the month. Things could get heated, as the Jets will see the Capitals three times in March (two home, one away) and the Sens, Lighning and Hurricanes twice each (one home, one away).
AprilAnd down the stretch they come! The Jets have seven games in April, including four of their last five at home. Considering how close the race was for the last playoff spot last season, home dates against the Buffalo Sabres (April 9) and Panthers (April 11) could be do-or-die contests. The Jets end the regular season on Saturday, April 13 at Ottawa. Hopefully, it won't be the last game of season.
Adam Martini is a freelance sportswriter and supporter of all Winnipeg sports teams. He no longer dreads Winnipeg winters now that the Jets have returned to town. You can follow Adam on Twitter @PegCitySports.
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