The Carolina Hurricanes are going to get their frequent flyer miles in early during the upcoming season.
The start of the NHL season is pushed back about a week to accommodate the World Cup of Hockey, meaning that the league’s opening day is October 13, which is the opening day of the State Fair. As a result, the Canes will begin the season on their longest road trip of the year, visiting all four cities in western Canada before returning east for dates with the Flyers and Red Wings. They then, finally, return home for the opener against the Rangers on Friday, October 27.
A new schedule twist will be a welcome sight for folks who like seeing the building full at the opening faceoff. For the first time since the Greensboro days, the Canes will have regularly scheduled 7:30 start times. Of the eleven Friday evening games, ten of them are scheduled for a 7:30 start, with the one exception a January 20 game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Sunday games, as usual, will have start times all over the map, ranging from 3:00 to 7:30. All other home games will start at 7:00, with one exception: the Saturday, January 14 game against the Islanders will start at 8:00.
Planning an easy getaway to see the Canes? Unfortunately, your options are rather limited this year. Only two away games, October 22 against the Flyers and March 25 against the Devils, are within easy driving distance on a Saturday that aren't part of a back to back. If you don’t mind traveling on the day of a game, the February 4 matchup with the Islanders in Brooklyn is a possibility.
For road trips, aside from the season-opening trip, the Canes will only face one trip longer than three games: a four-game trip the third week of March.
As days of the week go, the schedule is unusually light on Monday and Wednesday home games, with one and zero respectively. Forty-two of the Canes’ 82 games are on a weekend this year, with 26 of those - well over half the home slate - at PNC Arena. The Canes will have sixteen back to back sets, the same number as last year, with two of those sets involving two home games in a row: December 16-17 and January 13-14.
A new feature of the schedule this year is a bye week for all teams in either January or February, a five-day period where no games are scheduled and teams are prohibited from practicing or otherwise conducting any team activity. The Canes’ bye week is scheduled for February 12-16, just before the second of two five-game homestands that are tied for the longest of the season. The bye week comes after the All-Star Weekend, January 28-29 in Los Angeles, giving the team a decent respite in what is typically a fairly hectic time of the year.
Some assorted schedule oddities:
- Among divisional rivals, the Canes will face the Islanders and Flyers five times, with three home dates against the Isles and three visits to Philadelphia.
- The Sabres, Bruins, Red Wings and Maple Leafs will visit Raleigh twice. The other four Atlantic Division teams will see two visits from the Hurricanes. As usual, the Canes will play home and away against each Western Conference team.
- Of the four matchups with the Blue Jackets, three come in the span of eleven days in January.
- For the second year in a row, the Panthers are the last Eastern Conference team the Canes will visit, but unlike last year when they made their only visit to Sunrise in the penultimate game of the season, they will head south on February 28 for the first of two trips.
- The Canes face the Rangers at Madison Square Garden twice in five days - November 29 and December 3 - and make no other visits to Manhattan.
- Speaking of those two games, they're part of what may be the toughest stretch of the entire schedule: seven games in 12 nights, six on the road, including a 3-in-4 trip to all three California teams. Woof.
So, what else catches your eye about this year’s schedule?