So I’m beyond ready to blog about a full season for the first time.
The NHL announced the 2017-18 regular season schedule at 3PM EST today and there’s a link to their announcement here; there’s also an article about the ten must-see NHL games of the season here! The Devils have one of those spots, when they face the Flyers for the first time this upcoming season on January 13:
Let them both get drafted first before we hype up this “rivalry”; they’ll only be rivals on the ice if their off-ice shenanigans are any indication. You can probably bet that those two will be picked first and second overall but you never know. Philly could potentially trade their pick away (and I really hope the Devils don’t). All four games between the two games will be played in rapid succession.
You know the drill: the Devils play 41 games at home and 41 away. They’ll play a total of 28 divisional games, four against each team in the Metro. They’ll play three games apiece against Atlantic division opponents for a total of 24, which brings us to 52. The Devils will play two games against each Western Conference opponent; keep in mind that there are now 15 teams, not 14, which brings us up to 82 games.
On to the rest of the schedule:
First thoughts, the Devils play the Rangers on my birthday on the 14th so that’s exciting! If I can afford tickets, I might go and represent the red and black, and whoever the Devils draft first overall will get their initial taste of the Hudson River rivalry.
The Devils’ first game of the season is also their home opener! They play the Avalanche at The Rock at 7PM (I might go to this game too depending on what my fall schedule looks like). They play six home games and four away games, and if they get off to the same start as last season, they might be okay. They play two divisional games and five conference games. That break from October 21-26 is a little surprising seeing as their NHL-mandated break isn’t until January (but more on that later).
The Devils play six home games and eight away games during the month of November. They start the month with a Western Conference road trip and follow it up with a three-game home stretch. They’ll go back on the road for four games, come home, back on the road, come home. November should be fun.
They’ll play Vancouver and Edmonton twice and get those games over with. They also play Florida twice. The Florida road trip kicked their butts last season so hopefully that changes. They don’t play any divisional games either and play five of those 14 games against Eastern Conference opponents.
In December, the Devils play eight home games and six road games; hopefully, they’ll play better in December than they did last season. Fingers (and toes) crossed. They’ll again start the month with a road trip. Their six-game home stand is split by Christmas break from December 24-26. They play five divisional games and three conference games.
The Devils start their third month in a row with a road trip. They play just four home games and seven away games; January will be road-heavy again and New Jersey won’t play back-to-back home games at all. They’ll play five divisional games and three conference games. They’ll face the Islanders and the Flyers for the first time this season, and will play them both twice. Their NHL-mandated break will take place from January 8-12. The All-Star break is from January 26-29; the All-Star Game is on the 28th and will take place at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay, FL, home of the Lightning.
February is a little bit kinder. They don’t start this month with a road trip. New Jersey plays eight road games and six away games. Nine of those 14 games will be against Metropolitan Division opponents and those games could be crucial if the Devils are in or fighting for a playoff spot (which they hopefully will be). They’ll face the back-to-back Stanley Cup champs for the first time as well as the Canes. They’ll face Philly, Columbus, Carolina, and Pittsburgh twice each, and won’t play back-to-back road games at all.
Oh look, another road trip to start the month. The Devils play seven home games and eight road games during the month of March. They will face the Vegas Golden Knights for the first time this season and will play them twice within a week and a half. I’m sure the Devils will fly out early and have some “team-bonding” activities planned.
They’ll play five games against divisional opponents; three of them will be at home, as part of a three-game home stretch to finish the month. They’ll play six straight games on the road, including a West Coast road trip (I’m including Vegas).
Like usual, the regular season ends at the end of the first week of April. Six of the Devils’ last eight games are at home and could be important, again, if they’re in or fighting for a playoff spot at the time. Their last home game of the season will be on April 5th against Toronto; their last regular season game is on April 7th against the Capitals (which hopefully won’t be their last game of the season).
Initial thoughts? I hope this season goes better than the past few. Once the draft commotion dies down a little bit, I’ll post about some interesting match-ups and what games I would mark on my calendar as well as important games and important stretches of games in terms of playoff picture, etc. But here’s the question: is it October yet?