The Biggest Winners and Losers of the 2013-14 NHL Schedule Release
It's time for hockey fans across North America to begin making plans to see NHL games next season.
The NHL finally announced the 2013-14 regular-season schedule on Friday, which, for the first time since 1997-98, includes at least two games between every team (home and away). After last year's schedule included zero games against the opposing conference, being able to see every team on your favorite club's home ice at least once is great for fans.
Let's break down the biggest winners and losers of next year's schedule.
For a full explanation of the schedule and a team-by-team list, click here.
Winners: Fans of Outdoor Games
The NHL has decided to revamp its outdoor schedule from one game (the Winter Classic) to a total of six for the 2013-14 season.
- Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Detroit Red Wings: January 1 at University of Michigan*
- Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings: January 25 at Dodger Stadium
- New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils: January 26 at Yankee Stadium
- New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders: January 29 at Yankee Stadium
- Chicago Blackhawks vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: March 1 at Soldier Field
- Ottawa Senators vs. Vancouver Canucks: March 2 at BC Place
Going to an outdoor NHL game should be on the bucket list of every hockey fan. The atmosphere and excitement at these events are unlike anything else in the regular season.
*2014 Bridgestone Winter Classic
Losers: New York Islanders
The New York Islanders are one of the most exciting teams in the NHL. They most recently took the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins to six games in the first round of the playoffs.
Unfortunately for their popularity, they are currently scheduled for zero games on NBC and just four on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) in 2013-14.
New York's first NBCSN game is on Jan. 23, and from Feb. 5 to the end of the season, the team has just one NBCSN game.
The Islanders have five meetings with the New York Rangers next year, and only one of them will be played on home ice at Nassau Coliseum. The Rangers have three home games, with the remaining contest taking place at Yankee Stadium as part of the NHL's six outdoor games for 2013-14. The NHL should have instead split the non-outdoor meetings between these rivals at two games apiece.
The Islanders will also end the season with seven of their last 11 games on the road, in addition to 17 back-to-backs.
Winners: Chicago Blackhawks
The defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks will be on NBCSN 17 times next season, which is the second most of all NHL 30 teams and the most among Western Conference clubs. Chicago is also tied with the Flyers and Red Wings for the most games on NBC (five).
Eight of the Blackhawks' 13 games in the first month of the season are at the United Center, while nine of their last 16 games are also at home. Chicago has only three road trips longer than three games.
The Blackhawks will also host their first outdoor game since the 2009 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field when they welcome the Pittsburgh Penguins to Soldier Field (home of the NFL's Chicago Bears) on March 1.
Losers: New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils followed their run to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final with a disappointing 2013 season in which they missed the playoffs.
For the 2013-14 season, New Jersey will be on NBC just one time (outdoor game at Yankee Stadium versus the Rangers on Jan. 26) and NBCSN six times.
The Devils will open up the season with eight of their first 11 games on the road (six of the first seven on road), which includes difficult matchups against Pittsburgh, Vancouver and Boston. New Jersey also has 22 back-to-backs.
This is a brutal start to the season for a team that plays in the league's toughest division and just lost superstar winger Ilya Kovalchuk to retirement and top-six forward David Clarkson to free agency.
Winners: New York Rangers
The New York Rangers will be on national television quite a bit next season. The Original Six club has 14 games scheduled for NBCSN and four on NBC. Of course, this is not a surprise given the fact that New York is the United States' largest media market.
The Rangers are also scheduled for six CBC games, the most of any American franchise.
The Blueshirts will also become the first team to ever play in two outdoor games in one season. They will play division rivals the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 26 and the New York Islanders on Jan. 29, both at Yankee Stadium. The Devils matchup will be on NBC, and the battle against the Islanders are scheduled for NBCSN.
In addition to the outdoor games, New York will also be part of NBC's Thanksgiving Showdown, where it will travel to Boston to take on the Bruins in a Black Friday matinee. Boston eliminated New York from the 2013 NHL playoffs in Game 5 of the second round.
If the Rangers do well on their nine-game road trip to start the year (due to Madison Square Garden renovations), they will be well positioned for a playoff push in the final few months of the season with a lot of home games.
Losers: Boston Bruins
Despite playing in the sixth-largest media market and being largely responsible for one of the highest-rated Stanley Cup finals on record, the Boston Bruins will play in only 13 games on NBCSN and three games on NBC next season.
The Bruins also play 17 times on back-to-back nights, 16 of which include travel.
They don't renew their rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens until Dec. 5, and they have no meetings with the Habs in the final 10 games of the year.
Fans will also have to wait until March 27 (third-to-last home game) to see the Blackhawks return to TD Garden for the first time since Chicago won the Stanley Cup in Game 6.
Boston has only two home stands longer than three games, and it will close the season with 10 of its final 14 games on the road. This isn't a good situation for a team that often gets bored with the regular season and is prone to struggling in the last few weeks of the year.
Winners: Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings' move to the Eastern Conference as part of the new realignment plan has resulted in the Original Six franchise getting a lot of games on national television. They are scheduled to be on NBC five times (tied for the most) and NBCSN 11 times.
Detroit will also take part in the 2014 Winter Classic at the University of Michigan against the Toronto Maple Leafs. This outdoor game will be broadcast on NBC and CBC (Canada) on Jan. 1.
The Red Wings will begin the season with seven of their first 12 games at Joe Louis Arena and have six home stands of three games or more.
It should also be noted that with the new realignment plan and the move East, Detroit plays many more games in the Eastern time zone, which is beneficial to the players who will travel less and the fans who don't have to stay awake late at night to watch games.
Losers: Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup two years ago and went to the Western Conference finals last season, but they did not receive many national television games on the 2013-14 schedule.
The Kings have no games on NBC and just nine on NBCSN. Of those nine games on NBCSN, none of them are against Eastern Conference teams.
In addition to starting the year with six of its first eight games away from home, Los Angeles also ends the season with six of its final 10 games on the road.
Winners: Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby and the high-scoring Pittsburgh Penguins will appear on NBCSN 16 times next season. They will also play three games on NBC, two of which will be against the rival Philadelphia Flyers.
The Penguins start the season with seven games against teams that didn't make the 2013 playoffs, which gives them an opportunity for a great record to begin the year. Seven of the team's first 10 games are also at home.
To end the regular season, Pittsburgh has 11 of its final 16 games on home ice, including the last three against Detroit, Philadelphia and Ottawa.
The Penguins will also be featured in the third outdoor game of their history when they travel to Solider Field in Chicago to take on the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks on March 1.
Losers: Edmonton Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers are one of the league's youngest and most exciting teams. Considering that, it's a bit surprising that they'll have just one game on NHL Network next season. Edmonton also has zero games on NBC and NBCSN, as well as just 13 games on CBC (second fewest of the seven Canadian teams).
Edmonton's chances of getting off to a good start are also small because the team plays 13 of its first 19 games on the road. The Oilers also have six road trips of four games or longer, and the team's second home stand of four games or more doesn't arrive until February 27.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. He was also a credentialed writer at the 2011 and 2013 Stanley Cup Final, as well as the 2013 NHL draft.