The 2014-15 NHL campaign ended 10 days ago and now it’s already time to look forward to next season. As we come down from the tour de force that was the NHL Awards show Wednesday night and prepare ourselves for Round 1 of the NHL Draft Friday night, the league dropped the 2015-16 schedule on us Thursday morning, so start planning those road trips.
Some notes about the schedule:
• The regular season begins Oct. 7 and ends Sat. April 9.
• The Christmas break is from Dec. 23-25
• Super Saturday on the final day of the regular season!
Here are 11 dates to mark on your calendar as appointment viewing:
Oct. 7, 2015
New York Rangers at Chicago Blackhawks
It’s opening night league-wide and in what’s becoming a pretty regular thing, the Blackhawks will raise their third Stanley Banner in six seasons during their home opener against the Rangers. The roster on the ice for the pre-game ceremony will have plenty of new faces and who knows how many players who helped them capture the Stanley Cup earlier this month will be wearing different uniforms come October.
Oct. 8, 2015
Edmonton Oilers at St. Louis Blues
Connor McDavid makes his NHL debut as angels sing from the Scottrade Center rafters and doves fly through the crowd signaling the arrival of The Next One. Seriously, no pressure, kid.
Ottawa Senators at Buffalo Sabres
Meanwhile, in Buffalo, Jack Eichel begins his NHL career on what will be a revamped Sabres roster as the crowd dons their I LIKE EICH t-shirts and the nightly comparisions to McDavid begin.
Oct. 9, 2015
Toronto Maple Leafs at Detroit Red Wings
For the first time in 10 years, the Red Wings will have a new head coach when they start the season. Gone is Mike Babcock and replacing him is Jeff Blashill, who manned their AHL’s team’s bench for the past three seasons. It’ll certainly be odd seeing Babcock behind the Leafs bench and the entire day will be a lovefest to the coach to helped guide them to the 2008 Stanley Cup title. Maybe the Red Wings’ tribute video will just be three-minutes of angry Babcock stares from over the years?
Chicago Blackhawks at New York Islanders
Now it’s really going to sink in: Nassau Coliseum is no longer the home of the Islanders. When the Blackhawks come visit, the Islanders will officially open their new barn. They’ve already played two preseason games at Barclays Center over the last two seasons and have three more in September before things get real. It will still be odd to see the Islanders playing a home game in a non-decrepit building.
Dec. 6, 2015
Buffalo Sabres at Edmonton Oilers
The first meeting of McEichel, which will soon become this decades version of Crosby/Ovechkin, where both will be featured prominently on NBC programming.
Jan 1, 2016
Montreal Canadiens at Boston Bruins
Everyone loves a good rivalry and what the Canadiens and Bruins have developed over the years is nothing short of intense. So it makes sense for NBC and the NHL to pit the two in the annual New Year’s Day outdoor game, which will take place at Gillette Stadium.
Jan. 10, 2016
Buffalo Sabres at Winnipeg Jets
The Sabres will have a revamped roster on the ice and behind the bench when they start the 2015-16 season. From Dan Bylsma to Jack Eichel to whoever GM Tim Murray brings in during free agency, but one game to circle on the calendar is Evander Kane’s return to Winnipeg. The forward’s time with the Jets came to an end after TracksuitGate and season-ending shoulder surgery, both led to a March trade. Aside from the warm welcome Kane will likely receive, how many Jets fans will be donning track suits that night?
Feb. 21, 2016
Chicago Blackhawks at Minnesota Wild
The first Stadium Game of the season pits these two Central Division rivals outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium. Minnesota finally gets their outdoor game and the Blackhawks, as the league’s marquee franchise, appear in their fourth game outside.
Feb. 27, 2016
Detroit Red Wings at Colorado Avalanche
Coors Field will host the second Stadium Series game of the season as these rivals from the 1990s face-off. The actual game will be a footnote if the alumni game lives up expectations.
April 6, 2016
Vancouver Canucks at Edmonton Oilers
Rexall Place has had three other names since it opened in 1974, but we all remember it as Northlands Coliseum, home to those legendary Oilers teams and witness to four Stanley Cup celebrations. Now in its final season, the team will say goodbye to its home for over 30 years as Rogers Place prepares to open in time for the 2016-17 NHL season.
Jan. 28 - Feb. 1, 2016
All Star Weekend, Nashville
Yeah, All-Star Weekend isn’t quite what it used to be and the game itself isn’t any more entertaining, but the talk coming out Las Vegas this week is the idea to revamp the entire idea of the game itself. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, we could see the All-Star Game turn into the All-Star Tournament, featuring teams of 3 and a goalie playing until a champion is crowned. It’s a fresh idea and one that could gain some traction if the new 3-on-3 overtime provides entertaining results. If the NHL wants to keep spicing things up, how about allowing for non-All-Stars to participate in the Skills Competition? Who wouldn’t want to see Zdeno Chara vs. Shea Weber vs. Dustin Byfuglien should any of them not get the call to head to Music City?
Saturday, April 9, 2016
The final day of the regular season will feature all 30 teams in action, with many jockeying for either a playoff spot or seeding within their division. Beginning with a pair of games at 12:30 p.m. ET and ending with Coyotes/Sharks at 10:30 p.m. ET you’ll be plastered to your couch.
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