The release of the NHL schedule may have gotten lost amid the hectic offseason week the league produced (the awards show, draft, and schedule release all took place within 48 hours of each other), but this year's edition holds a lot of intrigue for the Rangers.
From a tough start to the year to rivalry games until the bitter end, the Rangers' key games of 2012-13 are below.
1. Rangers at Kings, October 12
The Blueshirts open their 2012-13 campaign with a game at the Stanley Cup champs. The hockey world will be watching as New York fans are left to wonder whether their team could have done what no other team could in the 2012 playoffs.
2. Rangers at Devils, October 17
In the first three games of the season, the Rangers play road games against each of the 2012 Stanley Cup finalists. With a game at the San Jose Sharks in between, the schedule doesn't exactly start off easy for the Blueshirts. If the Rangers start off slow in California, this rivalry game could have an even greater purpose than usual.
3. Rangers v. Stars, November 1
This matchup with Dallas 20 days into the NHL regular season represents the Rangers' first home game of the year. Given that the Blueshirts start the year with an eight-game road trip featuring five 2012 playoff teams, they will be looking forward to some home cooking at the Garden.
4. Rangers at Capitals, November 14
The Rangers and Caps are used to playing each other in consecutive games by now, so a home-and-home on November 14 and 16 shouldn't be a tall order for the two teams. This will be their first meeting since the 2012 playoffs.
5. Rangers at Bruins, November 23
Who needs college football? Rangers fans will need to shake the food coma early as the Blueshirts travel to Boston for a 1:00 Black Friday matinee. This will be the Rangers' first 2012-13 look at Tukka Rask.
6. Rangers v. Canucks, November 26
This game, which is the third game in a rough four-day stretch that also includes games against Boston and Philadelphia, will be the only time the Rangers face the Canucks all season, as the Blueshirts do not travel to Vancouver this year.
7. Rangers at Panthers, December 31
Though the Rangers probably don't mind spending New Year's Eve in Miami too much, this game sits in the middle of a five-game road trip. Which, combined with the season-opening eight-game trip, means it will feel like the Rangers are playing at home virtually every game during the rest of the season.
8. Rangers v. Penguins, January 31
Following the All-Star Break, the Rangers embark on a seven-game stretch that includes two games each against the Bruins and Devils, a matchup with the Kings at the Garden, and this contest against Pittsburgh. These games could determine the Blueshirts' playoff position going into the stretch run.
9. Rangers v. Oilers, March 10
This game is slated to begin at 3:00pm on a Sunday, so it looks likely to be an NBC game. This matinee provides Rangers fans with a good opportunity to get an in-person look at talented Edmonton forwards Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and No. 1 overall pick Nail Yakupov.
10. Rangers at Flyers, April 13
As they did a few years ago, the Rangers conclude the 2012-13 season with a grudge match against the Broad Street Bullies. Hopefully, this edition will be a battle for the President's Cup as opposed to a playoff berth.
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