The National Hockey League has released the schedule for the upcoming 2013-14 season. With this being the first season that the league’s new “radical realignment” plan will be put into place, the schedule features a much different look than it has in recent years.
Gone are the days of the six-division (three per conference) format. In their place, four new divisions will make up the two unbalanced conferences. In the Western Conference, the Pacific Division and Central Division will house seven teams apiece. In the Eastern Conference, the former Atlantic Division squads will be joined by the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Washington Capitals to form the Metropolitan Division. The former Northeast Division teams will welcome the Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, and Tampa Bay Lightning to forge the brand new Atlantic Division.
While the names of the Eastern Conference divisions aren’t the most geographically appropriate, there is plenty of anticipation for their implementation. Perhaps the most intriguing element to this new alignment is having divisional foes square off and play their way out of their own division in the early rounds of the playoffs. For more information on this new format, be sure to check out NHL Realignment II: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.
In terms of the design of the new schedule, each team will still play more games within their own conference than the other, and they’ll play the most games within their own division. However, each team will now play every other team in the league both home and away each season.
Among the highlights on the 2013-14 regular season schedule, there will be six outdoor games and a brief hiatus during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will take place on New Year’s Day when the Toronto Maple Leafs travel to Detroit. Another Atlantic Division team, the Ottawa Senators, will visit BC Place to take on the Vancouver Canucks in the 2014 Tim Horton’s NHL Heritage Classic on March 2, 2014. Also back is the 2013 Discover NHL Thanksgiving Showdown, which sees the New York Rangers renewing their Original Six rivalry with the Boston Bruins on Black Friday this fall.
Two Atlantic Division rivals will get things started on opening night in the Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off as the Leafs visit the Montreal Canadiens on October 1, 2013.
Without further adieu, here are the 2013-14 schedules for the brand-new Atlantic Division:
- Boston Bruins
- Buffalo Sabres
- Detroit Red Wings
- Florida Panthers
- Montreal Canadiens
- Ottawa Senators
- Tampa Bay Lightning
- Toronto Maple Leafs