It’s only been nine days since Alec Martinez buried the double-overtime winner to help the Los Angeles Kings win the Stanley Cup, but the baby steps toward next season’s Stanley Cup final has been already put in place.
The NHL released the 2014-2015 schedule Sunday afternoon and you’re about to get the good, the bad and the ugly games to mark on your calendar.
THE GOOD: The good doesn’t necessarily mean the best game on the schedule, but you have to give the NHL some credit for trying to rattle the San Jose Sharks. They headline October 8 with a date in Los Angeles to take on the Kings in their home opener. Not many teams stick around to watch the Stanley Cup banner raised in an opponent’s rink and I’ll guarantee the Sharks won’t either. They only blew a 3-0 series lead in the first round of the Western Conference quarter-finals. For the NHL and the group of people that put the schedule together to show us maybe they have a sense of humor, this is one game to look forward to once next season rolls around.
THE BAD: Nothing will even come anywhere close to the New York Rangers opening last season with nine straight games on the road due to the refurnishing of Madison Square Garden. Nothing could possibly be as bad as that, but if there was something maybe even remotely close, the Winnipeg Jets get the nod on this one. They start the season with three straight road games, but before you start thinking ‘Oh that’s not too bad’, just wait a second there. They visit the Phoenix Coyotes, the Sharks and finish off with the Kings. The Jets will be entering their second season in the Western Conference and to start the second with three tough Western-conference matchups, the pressure to get off to a good start and make the playoffs will be paramount because the honeymoon is over folks. Having the Jets back isn’t good enough for Winnipeg, they want to see some playoff puck.
THE UGLY: Well at least this year, the NHL decided that it probably isn’t a good idea to have five outdoor games throughout the course of the season and went back to just the Winter Classic. How could the Winter Classic be that bad of all the games next year? If you’re going to leech revenue off the larger market teams, at least try to make it a little less obvious. The Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals will headline this year’s event, with each taking part in their second Classic. What could be better than seeing the same teams play in an event like this? There was some sarcasm hinted in there. Like really? Alex Ovechkin is the league’s marquee player and the combination of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are absolutely filthy, but come on, these games are really going to lose their luster if new teams don’t get the opportunity to participate in probably one of the season’s biggest spectacles. I get it, they’re good teams, but don’t try to shove them down my throat. After an amazing first-round matchup, I’d like to see the Colorado Avalanche take on the Minnesota Wild: two up-and-coming teams with some serious talent.
For your team’s full schedule, head over to the NHL’s website.