Earlier today, the NHL announced the 2009-2010 regular season schedule. The season will begin on October 1, have a Winter Classic up at Fenway Park where the Boston Bruins will host the Philadelphia Flyers, continues through Valentine's Day, takes a break for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and then returns on March 1 with an end date of April 11, 2010.
Here's the link to the complete New Jersey Devils schedule at NHL.com. There's a few highlights from the schedule I'd like to point out. Mark your calendar for these days.
The New Jersey Devils will open the season hosting the Philadelphia Flyers and then play their second game of the season against Our Hated Rivals. 2009-2010 is going to open with some fire, that's for sure. And with the Islanders improving (in theory) and the Penguins coming off their third Stanley Cup victory, the 6 games against the Atlantic Division rivals is going to be more exciting than ever. Here's how it breaks down (home games in bold)
Philadelphia: Oct. 3, Nov. 16, Dec. 12, Feb. 8, Feb. 10, Mar. 28
NY Rangers: Oct. 5, Oct. 22, Jan. 12., Feb. 6, Mar. 10, Mar. 25
Pittsburgh: Oct. 24, Nov. 12, Dec. 21, Dec. 30, Mar. 12, Mar. 17
NY Islanders: Nov. 6, Nov. 28, Jan. 18, Jan. 23, Mar. 13, Apr. 10
So if you want to see some real intense hockey and a reason to boo rivals, then these are the dates you should set aside.
Homestands and Road Trips
The longest stretch of home games the Devils will have are 5 in a row from December 9 through December 18. They will host Carolina, Florida, Philadelphia, Montreal, and Ottawa in that stretch. Fun fact: On December 19, the Devils would have played 9 of their last 10 games at The Rock; a four game homestand broken up by an away game to Buffalo comes before this stretch of 5.
If you're planning to be in New Jersey or NYC in late November through mid-December, then you have the best chance of catching a Devils game (or multiple games) at The Rock - which I highly recommend, of course.
The Devils appear to have their road games come in bunches this season. The longest roadtrip they will take will run from January 9 through January 18, visiting Montreal, the Rangers, Phoenix, Colorado, and the Islanders. The most road games they will play in a 10 game window will be 8 as of January 27 (two home games split up the two road trips)
Games with Former Devils (Both Famous and Infamous)
Anaheim (Scott Niedermayer) visits the Rock on Nov. 11
Detroit (Brian Rafalski) visits the Rock on Dec. 5.
The Devils have four games against Montreal (Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta): two home games on Dec. 16 and Jan. 22, and two away games on Jan. 9 and Mar. 27. (Free Fantasy Hockey Hint: Play Brodeur on those four dates.)
Brent Sutter will not return to the Rock (BOOOOOOO) unless he some how coaches that team to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Devils only visit Calgary for their one game this season on Mar. 5. If there are any Devils fans up in Alberta (or if you're planning to visit Calgary for some reason), then I implore you to go to this game and verbally give Brent Sutter "the business." He needs to hear our disappointment with him. Though by that time, hopefully, the Flames fans will be disappointed with him as well.
The Devils will play 7 games earlier than 7 PM EST this season; four on the road and three at the Rock:
Road Games: Oct. 31 (3 PM, @Tampa Bay); Nov. 27 (12 PM, @Boston); Jan. 16 (3 PM, @Colorado); Jan. 18 (2 PM, @Islanders)
Home Games: Nov. 28 (1 PM, vs. Islanders); Jan. 31 (5 PM, vs. LA); Apr. 11 (5 PM, vs. Buffalo)
All other home games are currently listed for a 7 PM EST start.
The Devils got hit with 19 back-to-back games in the schedule, representing 46.3% of the total schedule. It's fairly evenly distributed however. They will have 2 in October, 3 in November, 4 in December, 3 in January, 2 in February, 3 in March, and 2 in April. So if you want to see Yann Denis (or Jeff Frazee) get some minutes, look for the back-to-back sets on the schedule.
Among these 19 back-to-back sets, 13 alternate home and away games. Fatigue from the prior game as well as travel will definitely be an issue - as well as the 2 back-to-backs that are both away games. None of those 13 are against the same team in both games, interestingly enough. However, 8 of them have the Devils facing a division rival in at least one of them. Most notably Pittsburgh and the Islanders in 4 of those 8, with the Rangers taking one of them. (Note: No, my math isn't wrong, there's a back-to-back with Pittsburgh and the Islanders in one set.)
Lastly, I compiled a list of all the dates and opponents in the 19 back-to-backs the Devils will play this season in the comments below. Note that 3 of the 4 games against Montreal take place in these sets; Philadelphia does appear but not in the alternating games; and the only Western Conference teams to take part in these sets are Detroit and Chicago.
For additional tidbits and such, Gulitti has a post on the schedule at Fire & Ice and the Star-Ledger Staff (?) has this schedule post at the Devils beat reports blog at NJ.com. Share your thoughts on the schedule in the comments.