Mark it down in your calendars, the 2021-22 NHL season is officially in sight. Wednesday night around 6:30pm(EST), ESPN and the National Hockey League revealed the new season’s schedule and there’s a lot to look forward to.
First things first, the NHL — tentatively — is going back to the Olympics in February 2022. A vast majority of players across the NHL were highly unhappy when they were not allowed to compete in the 2018 Olympic games. NHL players love being able to represent their home countries in international competition and there’s no grander international stage than the Olympics.
So, from February 7-22, the NHL will temporarily shut down its season — assuming a deal can be finalized with the IOC — and send whichever players are chosen by their respective countries to Beijing so they can go for the gold.
But once the Olympic break is over (again, assuming a deal with the IOC gets completed), the chase for Lord Stanley’s silver will be back on as the regular-season is set to conclude on Friday April 29th in order to then get underway with the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And this coming year, the NHL hopes the Stanley Cup will be awarded by the end of June; which is much closer in line with what we were used to prior to the COVID-19 pandemic gripping the world.
Now, a lot of this is subject to change should negotiations with the IOC fall through; in which case, the shadow schedule, which has been sent to the 32 teams in the league, will go into effect.
That’s all months away though. So, let’s circle back to the beginning of the season. Unlike Wednesday night’s Expansion Draft broadcast, which had the results leaked hours beforehand, Thursday’s schedule unveiling experienced no such issues.
We knew — thanks to Wednesday night’s Expansion Draft — that the Seattle Kraken will open their inaugural season on October 12th in Vegas against the Golden Knights as the NHL pits its two newest teams against each other right off the bat. And Seattle will officially open Climate Pledge Arena on October 23rd as the Kraken welcome their geographic rival, Vancouver, to the United States’ side of the Pacific Northwest.
As part of the festivities on October 12th, the two-time defending Cup-champion Tampa Bay Lightning will hoist their banner at Amalie Arena and then play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first game of the 2021-22 season. (Seattle at Vegas is the second game of the opening night doubleheader; with both games airing on ESPN).
Other league-wide important games/dates are:
January 1, 2022 — The 14th Annual Winter Classic (St. Louis will face Minnesota at Target Field in Minnesota). (Airing on TNT).
February 4, 2022 — The Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
February 5, 2022 — The Honda NHL All-Star Game at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
February 26, 2022 — The Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series at Nissan Stadium in Nashville (Predators vs. Lightning). (Airing on TNT).
Now, as for the Islanders and Rangers, here’s what you need to know:
The Isles will open their season on Thursday October 14, 2021, in Carolina as part of an NHL-record 13-game road-trip to start the season. The Boys from Long Island will travel to (in order): Carolina, Florida, Chicago, Columbus, Arizona, Vegas, Nashville, Montreal, Winnipeg, Minnesota, New Jersey, Tampa Bay and Florida (for the second time) before they open UBS Arena on Saturday November 20, 2021, against the Calgary Flames.
A strong road start and a deep bench will be key to the Isles Stanley Cup hopes as the team will need to accumulate as many points as possible early in the season before the condensed schedule takes its toll. The Islanders have 19 back-to-back sets and 11 times they will play three-games-in-four-nights.
Other key dates for you to know regarding the Islanders’ schedule are:
Sunday November 21, 2021 — John Tavares and the Toronto Maple Leafs make their first visit to UBS Arena.
Wednesday November 24, 2021 — The Rangers visit UBS Arena for the first time and kick start a new chapter in the storied rivalry between these two teams.
Saturday January 1, 2022 — Connor McDavid and the Oilers visit UBS Arena for a New Year’s Day matchup.
Tuesday January 4, 2022 — The Isles visit Seattle for the first time.
Saturday January 29, 2022 — The Kraken travel to Long Island for the first time. This will likely double as Jordan Eberle’s return to Long Island.
Sunday March 27, 2022 — The Lightning come to Long Island for the first time since Game Six of last season’s Stanley Cup Semi-Final.
Thursday April 28, 2022 — The Islanders wrap up their regular-season with a home game against the Lightning.
The Blueshirts will open their season on a back-to-back as they start by facing the Washington Capitals in D.C. on the second night of the NHL season (Wednesday October 13, 2021). The game will be part of TNT’s Wednesday night doubleheader as the network acquaintances itself with the NHL. And let’s not forget, it’s the first time the teams will meet since their “Fight Night” back on May 5th of last season.
From there, the Rangers will return home to host the Dallas Stars the following night (Thursday October 14, 2021) at Madison Square Garden. The Broadway Blueshirts will need to get used to the road though as they will play nine of their first 12 and 14 of their first 21 away from MSG. In addition, the Rangers will have 12 back-to-back sets this season.
Here are some other key dates for you to know regarding the Rangers’ schedule:
Sunday October 31, 2021 — The Blueshirts travel to Seattle for the first time and on Halloween to boot.
Sunday November 14, 2021 — The Devils come to MSG for the latest installment of the Battle on The Hudson.
Wednesday November 24, 2021 — The Blueshirts visit UBS Arena for the first time and on Thanksgiving Eve no less.
Friday November 26, 2021 — The Seventh Avenue Skaters head to Boston for an Original Six matchup on Black Friday.
Sunday November 28, 2021 — The Islanders come to MSG for the first time of the season.
Friday December 31, 2021 — The Blueshirts spend New Year’s Eve in Tampa as they take on the Lightning.
Sunday January 30, 2022 — The Rangers host the Kraken for the first time ever.
Friday April 29, 2022 — The Blueshirts end their regular-season with a home game against the Capitals.
There you have it, everything you need to know for the upcoming 2021-22 NHL regular-season.
And in case you’re curious about the breakdown of how the schedule is drawn up, enjoy the following picture.