The sprint that will be the 2012-13 NHL regular season starts Jan. 19 as 26 of the League's 30 teams open their schedule. It ends 98 days later with a final-day slate of 13 games on April 27.
The 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin three days later.
But before that can happen, each team will play 48 games entirely against clubs within its own conference. There will be no interconference play until the Eastern and Western champions arrive at the Stanley Cup Final in June.
The 2012-13 schedule matrix will accentuate the most-heated rivalries in the game, especially with each team playing 18 of its games against division foes. Eight of those 18 games are against two of the teams in the division (four each; two home and two away); five games (three home and two away) are against one team from the division; and five games (two home and three away) are against the remaining divisional opponent.
Clubs will play three games against each of the 10 remaining non-divisional opponents from within the conference, playing half those clubs in a two-home, one-away series and the other half in a two-away, one-home set.
Things certainly start with a bang Jan. 19.
The defending champion Los Angeles Kings, who defeated the New Jersey Devils in a six-game Final last June, raise their banner before a matinee game (3 p.m. ET) against the Chicago Blackhawks that will be carried by NBC in the U.S. and CBC in Canada. Both networks will cover the pregame ceremony.
A riveting playoff rematch is the other matinee TV game that Saturday: The Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Philadelphia Flyers to renew acquaintances in the battle for Keystone State bragging rights. NBC will carry that game regionally after the Kings' banner raising.