UPDATE #2: The memo has been signed and the full schedule is now released. Here's the full schedule from the Devils' official website. Original posts and updates follow afterward, kept for posterity's sake. Please continue on to read a quick rundown of what to expect month-by-month.
January: 7 Games - All times at 7 PM EST unless otherwise specified
Home Games (4): vs. Philadelphia (1/22, 7:30 PM EST), vs. Washington (1/25), vs. Islanders (1/31)
Away Games (3): at Islanders (1/19), at Montreal (1/27, 6 PM EST), at Boston (1/29)
Notes: No back-to-backs. Nice.
February: 14 Games - All times at 7 PM EST unless otherwise specified
Home Games (7): vs. Rangers (2/5), vs. Tampa Bay (2/7), vs. Pittsburgh (2/9, 1 PM EST), vs. Carolina (2/12), vs. Philadelphia (2/15), vs. Ottawa (2/18, 1 PM EST), vs. Winnipeg (2/24, 5 PM EST)
Away Games (7): at Pittsburgh (2/2, 1 PM EST), at Islanders (2/3, 3 PM EST), at Islanders (2/16), at Washington (2/21), at Washington (2/23, 12 PM EST), at Winnipeg (2/28, 8 PM EST)
Notes: The back-to-backs hit hard here. First one is completely on the road against the Penguins and Islanders. The second one is a home-and-home with Pittsburgh, which could be real nasty given how strong the Penguins will likely be this season. The third one keeps it in the division with a home game against Philadelphia and a road trip to Long Island. The fourth is the first non-divisional back-to-back: at Washington and then hosting Winnipeg. Also: These four back-to-backs are in successive weeks. As an aside, there are five afternoon games and that one against Ottawa is on President's Day. Hopefully you have that day off. The league certainly thinks so.
March: 15 Games - All times at 7 PM EST unless otherwise specified
Home Games (7): vs. Tampa Bay (3/5), vs. Buffalo (3/7), vs. Winnipeg (3/10), vs. Philadelphia (3/13, 7:30 PM EST), vs. Montreal (3/16), vs. Rangers (3/19), vs. Florida (3/23)
Away Games (8): at Buffalo (3/2, 3 PM EST), at Toronto (3/4), at Carolina (3/9), at Philadelphia (3/15), at Carolina (3/21), at Ottawa (3/25, 7:30 PM EST), at Tampa Bay (3/29, 7:30 PM EST), at Florida (3/30, 7:30 PM EST)
Notes: The Devils will have four back-to-backs in this month and all of them each have at least one road game. The first one is the Toronto-Tampa Bay split early in the month and the second one comes three days later with Carolina-Winnipeg. Philadelphia-Montreal comes four days after that and the final set comes during the Devils' longest road trip of the season in the final week of the month: Tampa Bay-Florida. The only non-evening game of the month is right at the beginning against Buffalo. This month nearly finishes the Devils' entire regular season game against the Southeast Division with the exception of one game. Lastly, I wouldn't be surprised if that Montreal game on March 16 gets treated with something like St. Patrick's Day.
April: 13 Games - All times at 7 PM EST unless otherwise specified
Home Games (7): vs. Islanders (4/1), vs. Toronto (4/6), vs. Boston (4/10, 7:30 PM EST), vs. Ottawa (4/12), vs. Florida (4/20, 1 PM EST), vs. Montreal (4/23), vs. Pittsburgh (4/25, 7:30 PM EST)
Away Games (6): at Boston (4/4), at Buffalo (4/7), at Toronto (4/15), at Philadelphia (4/18, 7:30 PM EST), at Rangers (4/21, TBD), at Rangers (4/27, TBD)
Notes: The Devils only have two back-to-back sets in this month. The first weekend features Toronto-Buffalo; and the last full weekend of the season has Florida-Rangers. Both are home-and-away sets. The Devils will only have one Southeast Division opponent in April as compared to seven against Northeast Division opponents and five Atlantic Division opponents. That last week looks daunting on paper: two rivalry games, Pittsburgh, and Montreal. Should the Devils need help to get into the playoffs, the schedule may not do them any favors. Then again, it won't be easy for many teams either. Those last two Rangers games are officially listed as TBD; the schedule does list NBC as a possible broadcaster for those games. We'll see whether they get that national coverage.
The Devils are listed for seven (maybe nine, given what happens with those last two dates against the Rangers) games on NBCSN, all three games against Montreal will be on RDS and one them will also be on CBC. One of the Toronto games will be on CBC. The U.S. version of the NHL Network will have seven games so if you're out of the local area, then you'll be in some luck.
The schedule is out. Transactions will begin at midnight. Camp begins tomorrow. The Devils will return.
UPDATE #1: At 10 PM EST, the MOU was signed as Tom Gulitti (and many others) tweeted. A full schedule will be coming out soon. Training camp will begin tomorrow. P.S. Bob McKenzie confirmed on Twitter that trades and signings can begin tonight at midnight EST.
ORIGINAL POST THAT IS NOW SOMEWHAT OUT OF DATE: The NHL has ratified the new collective bargaining agreement, the NHLPA ratified it this morning, and the only missing piece of the puzzle before the NHL can get back to business is a Memorandum of Understanding. It basically establishes details between the two parties. Once that's agreed upon, the league can release a full schedule and teams can contact, sign, call-up, and trade players. Some teams have already set up transactions in principle, so you'll see plenty of moves being made official once the MOU is approved.
So as of this writing, the 2013 season schedule has not been officially released yet. However, important parts of it have been uncovered by the press and the New Jersey Devils' schedule is no different. While the entire schedule isn't out yet, it's worth noting and discussing in the meantime. I will update this post with further details and the entire schedule with opinions on them as needed.
The incredible Tom Gulitti has reported at Fire & Ice the following:
- The Devils will open the 2013 NHL season on the road against the New York Islanders on Saturday, January 19.
- The Devils' home opener will be on Tuesday, January 22 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
- The Devils will play the New York Rangers, Our Hated Rivals, four times. The Devils will host them on February 5 and March 19; the Devils will go to MSG on April 21 and April 27 (last game of the season).
- With the 48-game schedule, teams will play four games against two divisional opponents and five games against the other two divisional opponents. The Devils will have four games against Pittsburgh and the Rangers. They will face the Isles (two in NJ, three on Long Island) and Flyers (three in NJ, two in Philly).
There's not a whole lot to say so far, but the Devils do get a small benefit in the shortened scheduled with respect to their divisional matchups. The Penguins will most likely be the best team in the Atlantic. They have the two greatest players in the world: Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. They still have a solid squad that should do well in terms of puck possession again. Tomas Vokoun greatly strengthens their goaltending. They will be a tough opponent. As much as I would love to jab Our Hated Rivals, I can't deny that they are very talented up front, Ryan McDonagh will boss their defense, and - when all else fails - Henrik Lundqvist can put the team on his back. The 2012 Eastern Conference Finals were months ago; you disrespect their quality at your own peril.
This isn't to say that I think the Islanders or the Flyers will be easy wins for New Jersey. I just don't think either are as good as Pittsburgh of the Rangers. Like the Devils, the Flyers are rather weak in a position (defense) and their goaltending presents a question mark). Unlike the Devils, the Flyers have good forwards. The Islanders have never been pushovers and they do have some very good players; they just don't have much in the way of depth. In that sense, I'd rather have the extra game against those two teams. We will see whether it truly is a good thing right away since the Devils will play each right at the beginning of the season.
Again, I will update this with more schedule information, likely when the MOU is finally released. In the meantime, please feel free to discuss the Devils' schedule for the 2013 season in the comments. Thanks for reading.