This week in July is the slowest week for sports in America. Football training camps haven't kicked up yet, hockey and basketball are in the middle of the off-season and baseball has their all-star game and then a few days of radio silence. Perfect time for the NHL to release their schedule and give us something all to look forward to when this summer heat finally goes away.
Without further adue, here's the Penguins schedule:
- The biggest dent is the Feburary 7-26 Olympic break when the NHL's top players will head to Sochi, Russia and compete for gold. Sidney Crosby is a lock to make Team Canada, as Evgeni Malkin is for the host Russians. Paul Martin and 2010 Olympian Brooks Orpik will probably get a look at Team USA camp, where Dan Bylsma is coaching and Ray Shero is helping as assistant GM. Kris Letang and James Neal might make the stacked Canadian team and that's probably all of the Pens that won't have a nice mid-season vacation.
- The new eight team divisionsstands out too. The Pens played in one of the toughest divisions in the old alignment and adding Washington, Carolina and Columbus doesn't make it any easier, but it does make for some additional black n' gold road-trips three times a season in each city, especially in Columbus where Pittsburgh fans absolutely take over.
- The Pens are now in the "Metropolitian" division. Because places like Columbus, Raleigh and Pittsburgh are so hip, I guess.
- Nice three game home-stand to start the year, opening with New Jersey on October 3.
- A Nova Scotia dream matchup on Monday October 21 when the Colorado Avalanche and Nathan MacKinnon come to town.
- Being a marquee NHL teams means playing in the day time for national TV purposes, and the Pens are scheduled to do that nine times currently, though some changes can be made there.
- Classic home-and-homes March 10/11 with the Capitals and then March 15/16 with the Flyers. Nothing like setting up St. Patrick's Day with some hate.
- Toronto comes to visit in Pittsburgh's annual Thanksgiving Eve home game, Wednesday November 27th
- Detroit in the Atlantic means three Pens/Red Wings regular season games. Can't be mad at that.
- Jan 7-11 a three game road-swing through Western Canada and March 1-7 sees four games in Chicago (outdoor), Nashville, San Jose and Anaheim seem like the most taxing and extended road trips.