One of the biggest questions about the upcoming Red Wings/NHL season is the schedule. How many games? Whom will the Wings play?
Here’s what we know:
- The season will be 48 games long and start on Jan. 19, according to memos to NHL teams.
- A very short training camp will start Saturday or Monday.
Here’s how a 48-game schedule breaks down:
- Four or five games each against the four divisional opponents (Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets). Detroit will play two divisional teams with a two home/two road games format, one team with three home and two road games, and one with two home and three road games.
- Three games each against the ten other members of the Western Conference.
- For practical reasons, the schedule will be adapted from the existing schedule as much as possible. Arenas have already been reserved; dates have been set aside.
What does that mean for right now? The NHL already announced a full 82-game schedule for this season. There’s a Red Wings schedule out there.
Games will be filled into the canceled All-Star break (between Jan. 23 and 29) and until the end of April (extending the season from April 13th), along with anywhere else. Those gaps in the schedule will be filled in.
Projected, partial 2012-13 Red Wings Schedule
That schedule has 30 very likely games, and six tentative games where most, but not all, will be played. Between 14 and 20 more games need to be added to the schedule, depending on which divisions get placed into the Wings’ schedule.
Home games against Nashville, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and San Jose will need to be added in, along with an additional road game at Chicago.
Four of the games to be added include two additional home games and two additional road games against two divisional opponents each. Since Chicago is already scheduled to play three games in Detroit, it’s assumed that they will be the team that will play one more game in Detroit. One divisional wild-card game will be at home, and two will be on the road, against Columbus, Nashville and St. Louis.
Since the Red Wings will play one division twice at home and the other twice on the road, some of those wild-card games will change as well. The easiest scenario would keep the additional home game against Anaheim (Pacific division) and the additional road game against Colorado (Northwest division). It would drop the additional road game at Dallas (also in the Pacific division). Two scheduled games would stay; one would be canceled. Either way, seven or eight games will be added into the schedule that way.
The last wrinkle is for the season opener, on Saturday, Jan. 19. A strong rumor is that the Original Six teams will play each other on the opening night, with the Red Wings facing off against Chicago, if that takes place. That move would make the first night a bit more symbolic, and might attract some casual viewers. If that happens, a slight adjustment will have to be made. The Joe is available on that night, after all.
An official schedule should be released in the days to come.
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.