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Saturday, January 12, 2013

I Hope You Got Plenty Of Rest During The Latest NHL Lockout: 48 Games In 99 Days Is Silly

If you love hockey, you will be in heaven from Saturday until the end of June. That is because the NHL unveiled its wacky 2013 regular season schedule tonight and it includes 48 games for each team in only 99 days. The regular season ends on April 27 with the playoffs beginning on April 30. The Stanley Cup Finals could potentially go as long as June 28. The trade deadline is April 3.

The only issue I have with the schedules is that teams are limited to playing only teams in their own conference. That means the Bruins won't see any Western Conference teams in the regular season and they'd have to get to the Finals to play one, no pressure. The B's play 18 games against teams in the Northeast Division: five vs. Buffalo and Ottawa; four vs. Montreal and Toronto. The other 30 games are against the rest of the Eastern Conference with three vs. each club.

The B's open vs. the Rangers on Saturday (7 p.m.) then host Winnipeg on Monday afternoon (1 p.m.)-Martin Luther King Day. Boston plays five of its seven games in January at TD Garden so they should get off to a fast start. Their first road game is at Madison Square Garden on January 23 vs. Rangers then the Devils (2012 Eastern Conference champions) come to Boston on January 29.

February is a different story since the B's are out of town for eight of their 11 games. The first Bruins-Canadiens game is February 6 in Montreal, I hope 911 can handle that. Boston's longest road trip of the season-five games-takes place from February 15-26. It allows them to visit probably all of the worst cities in the Eastern Conference: Buffalo, Winnipeg, Tampa Bay, Florida (Sunrise?) and Uniondale (Islanders). Woof.

There is no way around it: March is going to be brutal. Of the seven back-to-backs for the Bruins, four of them occur in March. They play 17 games (9 away, 8 home) in that month alone. The only good aspect of March is that it should be called rivalry month: they meet the Flyers, Capitals and Penguins each twice. No St. Patrick's Day game at the Garden, the B's kick off a four-game road trip in Pittsburgh that afternoon so you'll have to drink a Guinness in front of your TV instead.

April is more cushy as the Bruins hopefully get ready for the playoffs (which are the same, except for starting later and lasting longer). The B's end their home slate with a four-game stay from April 15-21: Senators, Sabres, Penguins and Panthers. Their last two regular season games are against other Eastern Conference contenders: at Philadelphia and at Washington (April 27).

I think losing 24 games off the regular season is a complete non-issue since an 82-game regular season is way too long but it will be interesting to see how this turns out (the NHL also used a 48-game schedule in 1994-95). If you need me, I'll be loading up on energy drinks and eight balls of coke to keep up with all the action, haha just kidding mom!





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