While the NHL lockout ended last Sunday morning, it actually didn’t officially end until late Saturday night, when the NHLPA ratified the CBA, the memorandum of understanding was signed, the rosters were unfrozen, and the 2013 NHL schedule was released. Also, someone waved a green flag. We are, ladies and gentlemen, officially back in business.
Let’s talk about the schedule. You might recall that, before the 2012 half of 2012-13 was hacked away by idiocy and the league had to rewrite the whole bloody thing, the Canucks were fairly happy with this year’s schedule. You’ll be pleased to know that the revamped calendar will likely satisfy them as well.
As usual, Vancouver will be one of the most-traveled teams. According to On the Forecheck, the Canucks will rack up 29,117 travel miles in the 48-game season. Only the Minnesota Wild (31,345) and the Dallas Stars (29,482) will cover more ground.
But, while the Canucks will spend a lot of time in the air, they still managed to catch a serious break in the densely-packed schedule: they are one of only 6 teams with 7 or fewer back-to-backs.
The other 5: the Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers, all of whom will play on consecutive nights 7 times — save the Rangers, who somehow escaped with only 6 such scenarios. Sometimes operating in the city where the schedule is being rewritten pays off.
The Rangers aren’t the only team that stands out from this group, however. The Canucks are the only franchise in the 7 back-to-backs or less club that isn’t from the East. Thus, Vancouver will play the fewest back-to-backs in the Western Conference. In a condensed sprint like this one, that’s a major break.
The entire schedule can be viewed here, but here are a few dates that stand out to us:
1 | Saturday, January 19: Canucks vs. Ducks
This one jumps out for two reasons: first, it’s the first Canucks game in nine freaking months, but second, it’s the first game on what’s expected to be Teemu Selanne’s farewell tour. Unless he finds a way to get his hands on the Suntots’ magic coral, which preserves youth eternally, the Finnish forward is likely playing his last NHL season, and the Canucks will factor heavily into it, as Selanne begins the year in Vancouver.
But, what’s more, is that he also ends it in Vancouver, in a sense. Selanne’s final game will take place in Anaheim, which was absolutely the right thing to do, but his last road game is in the same place as his first: Vancouver. The Teemu Selanne goodbye tour begins and ends in Vancouver. That’s cool.
2 | Monday, January 28: Canucks at Kings
TSN hosts the first meeting of the year between the Canucks and the Stanley Cup champion Kings, who made hasty work of them in last year’s playoffs. Between last year’s feisty series and the likelihood that the road to the Stanley Cup will, at some point, see these two teams colliding, this should be a very fun game.
3 | Friday, February 1: Blackhawks at Canucks
The last time the Blackhawks and Canucks came together, Duncan Keith’s elbow also came together with Daniel Sedin’s face. Something tells me the Canucks haven’t forgotten that. Now, obviously, I’m not advocating that someone do the same back to him — Lord knows we’ve seen enough carnage as the result of an ill-conceived bounty in this city — but if anyone deserves to get surreptitiously bitten by Alex Burrows…
4 | Friday, February 15: Stars at Canucks
It’s the return of Aaron Rome! Definitely worth a watch, if only to catch Alain Vigneault’s forlorn glances to the Dallas bench.
5 | Monday, March 18: Wild at Canucks
It’s not often that we consider a date with the Wild a game of note, and the Canucks’ fourth and final meeting with the new home of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter isn’t likely to be a barn-burner. But this game is notable nonetheless, because it’s the first game of the Canucks toughest stretch of the year: five games in seven nights. The night after the Wild, the Blues visit, then two nights later, it’s the Coyotes. Finally, the Canucks hit the road for another back-to-back, this time versus the Kings and Avalanche.
On the bright side, then they get three days off. Granted, there’s a Blue Jackets game in there somewhere, but, you know, Columbus.Tags: Canucks, Preview, schedule