The NHL has officially released the schedule for the upcoming 2013-14 season, along with the names for the four new divisions within the league.
In the Western Conference, you have the Pacific and Central Divisions. The Pacific Division is comprised of the Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks and the Vancouver Canucks. The Central Division is comprised of the Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, Winnipeg Jets and your very own Minnesota Wild.
In the East, two former Western teams in Detroit and Columbus have left to join the new Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions. The Atlantic Division is made up of the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs. The Metropolitan Division boasts the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.
The new scheduling is perfect in that every team will play in every arena in the league at some point in the season. That means everyone has a chance to see the NHL’s very best players like Crosby, Ovechkin, Karlsson, Stamkos…cough…Brodin…cough.
Per the NHL’s website:
The Stanley Cup Playoffs will still consist of 16 teams, eight from each conference, but it will be division-based and a wild-card system has been added.
The top three teams in each division will make up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four spots will be filled by the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference — regardless of division — based on regular-season points. It will be possible for one division to send five teams to the postseason while the other sends three.
The seeding of the wild-card teams within each divisional playoff will be determined by regular-season points. The division winner with the most points in the conference will be matched against the wild-card team with the fewest points; the division winner with the second-most points in the conference will play the wild-card team with the second-fewest points.
The teams finishing second and third in each division will play in the first round of the playoffs. The winners of each series will play for berths in the conference championship series.
The winners of the conference championships advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
There will also be a gap in the schedule from February 9th to the 26th that will allow NHL players to skate for their country in this year’s Winter Olympics to be held in Sochi, Russia. Minnesota has a few players that will no doubt be in the running for their countries, including Zach Parise (USA), Ryan Suter (USA), Dany Heatley (Canada), Mikko Koivu (Finland), Mikael Granlund (Finland), Niklas Backstrom (Finland) and Jonas Brodin (Sweden).
Notable Home Dates for Minnesota Wild Fans
Thursday, October 3rd at 7 p.m. – What better way to kick off the season than a home opener against Dustin Brown and the Los Angeles Kings?
Monday, October 28th at 7 p.m. – The first home game against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks since the Wild were eliminated in Game Five of the 2013 Stanley Cup Western Conference Quarterfinals comes just two days after Minnesota’s first game of the year against the Hawks. Look for this to be a heated affair.
Friday, November 29th at 5 p.m. – Everyone knows the best way to digest Thanksgiving turkey is by watching the Minnesota Wild take on the Colorado Avalanche!
Tuesday, December 31st at 5 p.m. – Nothing says “Happy New Year!” like a heated game against the division rival St. Louis Blues.
Saturday, January 18th at 8 p.m. – There is nothing official as far as I know, but my gut says this heated matchup with the Dallas Stars will likely be the day of Hockey Day in Minnesota. Nothing like the new team versus the old team!
Saturday, March 22nd at 1 p.m. – The Wild host a special early afternoon game against the Detroit Red Wings prior to the first ever Big Ten Championship Game.
For Minnesota’s full schedule, click here.