BostonBruins.com - The 2013-14 Bruins' schedule (as well as the entire NHL schedule) is out. Seems like we just finished, doesn't it? Well, get your countdowns ready because Rookie Camp opens on September 3, Training Camp opens on September 11, preseason starts September 13, and the B's season kicks off on October 3 in Boston.
Have all of those dates written down? Good. Now I'll suggest a few more to especially make note of as well….
Before we go through a list of "notable dates," the biggest change heading into 2013-14 is the new divisional and conference format from geographical realignment that went into effect with the new CBA in January.
The NHL now has two eight-team divisions in the Eastern Conference and two seven-team divisions in the Western Conference. The Black & Gold remain in the East, but we say farewell to the Northeast Division.
The B's will be in the new "Atlantic Division" with Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto.
A new addition to the Eastern Conference altogether, the Red Wings join the five former Northeast Division teams, along with the Lightning and Panthers. For more on realignment and the divisional set-up across the league, refer to BostonBruins.com.
There's also a new scheduling matrix in place that ensures all 30 teams play in all 30 arenas at least once each season, so the fans at TD Garden will get a glimpse at every team, and all of those Bruins fans across the entire United States and Canada? They'll get to see the spoked-B more often.
Realignment comes into effect right off the bat for the Bruins this season, as they don't face their first former Northeast Division opponent until they travel to Buffalo for Game No. 8 on October 23.
Boston fans will get a look at the Red Wings in person early on, as the B's host Detroit at TD Garden twice in the first five games (October 5, October 14).
With Florida and Tampa Bay now in the division, the Bruins will have a hefty dose of East Coast travel down to the panhandle. The first Florida trip sees the B's faceoff against the Panthers on October 17 in Sunrise, before traveling to Tampa Bay for a match-up with the Bolts on October 19.
More Notable Dates:
-October 12 - The B's first road game is at Columbus - also a newest member of the Eastern Conference - but don't expect to see ex-Bruin Nathan Horton on the ice. The right winger recently underwent surgery in Boston to repair his dislocated shoulder and will miss the start of the season.
-November 5 - The first time Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley come to the TD Garden as Dallas Stars, following the July 4th trade that brought Loui Eriksson and a trio of prospects to Boston. I'm interested to see what kind of reaction from the Garden crowd takes place. After a month into this season, I'd expect Jarome Iginla and Eriksson to have started to ease their way into the likes of B's fans.
-November 9 - Will the Toronto Maple Leafs still have visions of the last time they were at TD Garden? With Seguin gone, will Bruins' fans still give out their infamous "Thank You Kessel" chant for good measure? Regardless, the Leafs visiting Boston for the first time since Game 7 of the playoffs can expected to be a match-up with a little extra fire.
-November 29 - The B's first game of the season against the New York Rangers, who they took in five games in the Eastern Conference semifinals, comes as the after-Thanksgiving Black Friday matinee, which makes its return after the lockout-shortened season.
-October 30 - First time the Bruins head to Pittsburgh this season - will Sidney Crosby and the Pens have short memories after the Eastern Conference Final sweep? It also marks the first time now Boston Bruin Jarome Iginla faces off against former (though very brief) team.
-December 10 - Iginla returns to Calgary for his first appearance since the trade deadline; it's also his first time in the spoked-B in his old stomping grounds, and if I know anything about the way he was reverred and made himself a part of the community there, we can expect a reception from Flames fans.
-December 12 - Saying goodbye to Andrew Ference wasn't easy for GM Peter Chiarelli, and it certainly was difficult for him, his teammates and Bruins fans. So the first time seeing Ference on December 12 in Edmonton in an Oilers jersey will be different, but still special.
-December 14/February 4 - Bruins face the Canucks in Vancouver on December 14, before hosting them on February 4 at TD Garden. Memories of 2011 still make these games extra sweet, but I'm curious to see the new-look Canucks with John Tortorella behind the bench after the Rangers and Vancouver swapped coaches in the offseason.
-January 19 - The Bruins will have to wait until January 2014 to face the Blackhawks since they snatched the Stanley Cup from them in Game 6. The match-up will be at the United Center. Fans won't get a look at Chicago at TD Garden until the tail end of the season on March 27.
-January 30 - Bruins. Habs. Need I say more? Though, it will be a long wait until the end of January to see the Canadiens in Boston. The B's first game against the Habs is in Montreal on December 5.
-February 1 - See December 12. Though, this time, Ference is inside the walls of TD Garden, and he can expect to receive a warm welcome.
Regular season ends on Sunday, April 13 in New Jersey. Playoffs begin on April 16.
Is it October yet?
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