The NHL has finally released the official 2013 schedule. The arrival of the schedule means that we can finally, after a bitter and agonizing past several months, close the door on the lockout.
Action resumes Saturday, January 19th with 13 games that will take place between 3:00pm ET and 10:00pm ET. The NHL playoffs will return on April 30th and last through late June.
Mark your calendars. Hockey is back.
The NHL season is set to span a total of 99 days, beginning on January 19th and concluding on April 27th. The playoffs are scheduled to last through most of June, with the Cup supposed to be awarded no later than June 28th.
The final day of the season, also a Saturday, will finish with a flurry of 13 games. It's safe to say that playoff races will be won or lost in the year's final regular season games. Considering the shortened schedule, we may see some huge shifts in the standings on the final day of the year.
It's been reported that NHL Network is planning to televise 78 live NHL games this season with an emphasis on games taking place on either Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
Will hockey take place on Super Bowl Sunday? You better believe it, but not during the game itself of course. Four games will be held on Super Bowl Sunday, with NBC broadcasting the Penguins vs. Capitals on NBC at 12:30pm ET.
In summary, the 2013 season will be a quick one but a frantic one. Days off will be few and far between. Teams will be tested. Depth will be tested. Lost time due to injuries will have a greater impact due to the sheer volume of games in so little time. The quality of a team's AHL talent should be a big factor as teams have to go to the well to bring in fresh, healthy players.
Get ready. The 2013 season is going to be one wild ride.