The NHL has released the 2007-2008 schedule. As usual, the Avalanche will face off against the stupid Dallas Stars on opening night. Well, the North American opening night. The Kings and Ducks are playing a 2-game series September 29th and 30th in London. Yawn.
Here's a look at the 82 games on the slate for the Avalanche:
- October - 11 games (5 home, 6 road)
- November - 13 games (7 H, 6 A)
- December - 15 games (8 H, 7 A)
- January - 12 games (7 H, 5 A)
- February - 14 games (4 H, 10 A)
- March - 15 games (9 H, 6 A)
- April - 2 games (1 H, 1 A)
Obviously, February looks tough, with just 4 home games, and includes the 2nd of two 5-game road trips the Avs will have (this tour goes through Anaheim, Phoenix and Edmonton before back-to-back games in Calgary and Vancouver). After that stretch, March looks friendlier and opens up with 4 home games (LA, Vancouver, Anaheim and Dallas).
I mentioned the two 5-game road trips. The first one is a doozy - 5 games in 7 days with two sets of back-to-back games. It's a quick little January tour through Detroit, Washington, Carolina, Florida and Tampa. That trip takes care of 4 of our 5 road games against the Southeast Division; we'll close out that series with a March 11th trip to Atlanta.
Conversely, the Avs have two 5-game homestands. The first one spans 10 days starting October 28th (Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton). Then, immediately after that 5-game Southeast road trip in January, the Avs are home for their longest stay of the season - 12 days, thanks to the All-Star break - as we host Chicago, Columbus, Nashville and Minnesota. Chicago closes out the stand after the 6-day break.
Avalanche fans will get a chance to see Scott Hartnell, Chris Drury and Scott Gomez on the ice this year...just not in Avalanche uniforms as some were hoping for. The Northeast division comes to Colorado this winter. Pittsburg visits on November 1st. Hartnell and the Flyers visit on December 7th. Jagr, Drury, Gomez and Sean Avery bring the Rangers to town on the 21st of December (the Avs are home for Christmas, from the 21st through the 29th). Bill Guerin and the Islanders arrive on January 5th to give Joe Sakic a coaching clinic and the Devils come to town on March 15th - perhaps Lou Lamiorello will have fired his new coach by then. Other notable dates: Ryan Smyth makes his return to Edmonton on October 23rd. And get the media frenzy started - Todd Bertuzzi and Brad May roll into Denver on February12th (the Avs play in Anaheim on December 19th).
Like last year, the Avs start off with back-to-back games. They host the Stars on October 3rd and play in Nashville the following night. It's one of 10 sets of back-to-back games throughout the year. Strangely, only 4 of the 20 games played in the back-to-backs are home games. The others:
- Oct 12th and 13th (at St Louis, home to Columbus)
- Nov 30th and Dec 1st (at San Jose, at Los Angeles)
- Dec 12th and 13th (at Columbus, at Nashville)
- Jan 8th and 9th (at Detroit, at Washington) (ouch!)
- Jan 12th and 13th (at Carolina, at Florida)
- Feb 1st and 2nd (at Detroit, at St Louis)
- Feb 17th and 18th (at Chicago, home to Detroit)
- Feb 26th and 27th (at Calgary, at Vancouver)
- Mar 8th and 9th (home to Dallas, at Dallas)
I believe the oddest aspect of the schedule is the final game. After playing in Vancouver on April 1st, the Avs have a loooong 5-day break before closing out the season against the Wild on April 6th. It's odd that they would have a long break like that between the 81st and 82nd games of the season. Assuming those games will be important to the Avs, that break might bring vital rest...or unneeded rest. Personally, I'm hoping their postseason status is locked in before then.