July 19 2013 01:18PM
With Olympic participation official, the NHL announced the 2013-14 schedule this morning. For your Calgary Flames, there are some good and bad aspects to it. Here's a quick and dirty rundown.
Your chance to see pesky junior players and Ryan Howse in Flames silks return this year, in the form of pre-season games. I missed these last year.
Calgary plays seven pre-season contests. A pair of split-squad games with Edmonton on September 14, a game with Ottawa in Saskatoon on September 16, a split-squad pair with the Islanders in Calgary and Regina on September 17, then home games against the Rangers on September 23 and the Coyotes on September 25.
For those keeping track, that means the Saddledome has hockey scheduled on September 14. Also, based on the nature of the split-squad games, the most games anybody can play is five in the pre-season.
THE REGULAR SEASON
Everyone plays everyone again, as the Flames return to their former home in the Pacific Division – alongside Anaheim, San Jose, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Edmonton and Phoenix.
The “everyone plays everyone” aspect also means that everyone goes everywhere. As a result, there are some wacky road trips and some awful, awful start times. The Flames play five times before 5pm MT, including starts at 11am (in Philadelphia), noon (in Buffalo), 2pm (in Anaheim), 3pm (in Ottawa) and a random 4pm Sunday home game against Vancouver.
The most common start times are 5pm (10 times), 6pm (9 times), 7pm (25 times) and 8pm (20 times), with most games starting between 6pm and 8pm Calgary time. There's also a week where, due to a road trip, the Flames play in succession at 5pm, 6pm, 7pm and 8pm. That probably won't be fun for anybody.
In terms of home games, Flames ticket holders will be arriving at many different times and days.
- Two Sunday games: one at 4pm and one at 6pm.
- Three Monday games: two at 7pm and one at 7:30pm.
- Five Tuesday games: four at 7pm and one at 7:30pm.
- Ten Wednesday games: two at 6pm, two at 7:30pm and six at 8pm.
- Six Thursday games: five at 7pm and one at 7:30pm.
- Eleven Friday games, all at 7pm.
- Four Saturday games, all at 8pm.
Those two early-season 6pm Wednesday games (Montreal and Toronto) are gonna be rough on everybody.
Then there's the issue of back-to-back games. Calgary has a dozen sets of back-to-backs. Nine of them are games where both are on the road, while the other three are road games played after home games in Calgary. None of them are back-to-back nights at the Saddledome. Travel is always involved.
An odd quirk of the schedule is this: Calgary visits Edmonton and Phoenix three times apiece. Two of Calgary's trips to Edmonton are immediately after games in Calgary. All three of Calgary's trips to Phoenix are the second game of back-to-back sets on the road (after games against Los Angeles, Anaheim and Dallas, respectively). One of Edmonton's visits is after a home game, the other is after Christmas. One of Phoenix's visits is after a game in Edmonton, the other is two days after a game in Phoenix.
The Flames have two five-game homestands. They also have one four-game road trip and three five-game road trips. The remainder of their home and away jaunts are all much shorter, but those three five-gamers are not going to be fun – they have one long road trip per month for the first three months of the season.
KEY HOME GAMES
- Vancouver: October 6 (home-opener), December 29
- Montreal: October 9
- Washington: October 26
- Toronto: October 30
- Edmonton: November 16, December 27
- Boston: December 10
- Philadelphia: December 31
- Tampa Bay: January 3
- Pittsburgh: January 11
- Winnipeg: January 16, April 11
- Ottawa: March 5