The NHL schedule was released today after confirming that the NHL will participate in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The Buffalo Sabres portion of the schedule features new division rivals Detroit, Florida, and Tampa Bay, as well as the return to Buffalo of some familiar faces in different places.
We're going to have a more in-depth analysis of the Sabres schedule coming soon, but here are the immediate highlights of next year's campaign:
- The NHL season officially opens on Tues, Oct 1, but the Sabres season opener takes place in Detroit on Wed, Oct 2 at 8pm. It will be the featured national game on NBCSN.
- The home opener for the blue and gold is on Friday, Oct 4, where the Sabres will host the Ottawa Senators.
- Old friends will be returning to Buffalo early in the season - Jason Pominville and the Wild come to Buffalo on Mon, Oct 14, and Lindy Ruff makes his triumphant return to the FNC on Mon, Oct 28 with the Dallas Stars. Buffalo visits Dallas on Monday, March 3.
- There have been rumblings that the Sabres may be retiring Dominik Hasek's jersey this season. The Sabres will host Detroit in Buffalo for the first time this season on Sunday, November 24. Hm.
- The entire league will be taking a break from Feb 9-26 for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. As a result, the Sabres have just six games in the month of February.They will also benefit by having very few players actually playing in said Olympics.
- The season finale comes against the NY Islanders on Sunday, April 13.
If you're wondering what the breakdown of games is this season against division, conference, and non-conference opponents with the newly realigned NHL, the Sabres themselves explain it best:
After a league-wide conference realignment was agreed upon this offseason, Buffalo will play their 82-game schedule with the following breakdown: 30 games against divisional opponents (five games vs. two teams and four games vs. five teams, with teams rotated on a yearly basis); 24 games against non-divisional opponents in the Eastern Conference (three games vs. each team); 28 games against non-conference teams (two games vs. each team).
As a result of the realignment, the Sabres will play more games against new divisional opponents Detroit (four times in 2013-14), Florida (four times), and Tampa Bay (four times), as well an extra game (three total in 2013-14) against new conference opponent Columbus.
The league also revealed the names of the new four-division format today. Out West, we'll be watching the standard Pacific and Central Divisions. In the East, the Sabres are now part of the Atlantic Division, and their counterparts are the...uniquely named...Metropolitan Division.
There you have it, Sabres fans, your hockey calendar from October through April is set. What do you think of the 2013-14 schedule at first glance?