The 2017-18 NHL regular season schedule was released Thursday, and with the Blue Jackets looking to build on the success of last season and make a return trip to the playoffs, let's take a look at the road that lies ahead.
The Jackets have 41 games at home and 41 games on the road, 28 games against Metro Division opponents, and 47 games on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. 24 of those weekend matchups are on home ice at Nationwide Arena.
Here's how each month shapes up.
The opening month of the season has the Jackets playing a total of 12 games with seven at home and five on the road. The team starts the year off Oct. 6 by welcoming the New York Islanders to Nationwide before heading to Chicago for the first back-to-back of the season. The first of two season-long four-game home stands falls early in the schedule with the Jackets welcoming Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, Buffalo and Winnipeg Oct. 19 - 27.
After a long home stand in October, the Jackets head into November and face the first of three three-game road trips this season. On Nov. 2, the Jackets play Florida before heading to Tampa Bay for a Nov. 4 game. They wrap up their travels Nov. 6 in New York against the Rangers. With seven total road games in the month of November, one stop awaiting the Jackets is an inaugural visit to Little Caesars Arena, the new home of the Detroit Red Wings, on Nov. 11. The week of Thanksgiving is a big one for Jackets fans, as the team will be at home on Wednesday, Nov. 22 and Friday, Nov 24. Expect big, electric crowds for those home games during the holidays.
The final month of 2017 will be a busy one. December boasts 15 games, including three more back-to-backs. The Jackets faceoff against Metro opponents eight times including a Dec. 21 game when they head to Pittsburgh to face the defending Stanley Cup Champion Penguins for the first time this season. New Year's Eve brings the Jackets back to Nationwide for a 6 p.m. puck drop against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Jackets will start off 2018 with a 10-game January that has no Divisional matchups, nor any games against 2016-17 playoff teams. Of note, the Jackets make their inaugural trip to Las Vegas to play their first game against the League's newest team, the Vegas Golden Knights Jan. 23. The Jackets will enjoy their League mandated five-day break from January 13-17 and the All-Star break is slated for January 26-29.
Head coach John Tortorella has called the middle weeks of the season the "dog days," but there will be little time for the Jackets to be lose focus on their game in February. In the 13 games the Jackets play, 10 are against Divisional opponents. That includes three games against the Washington Capitals with a home and home Feb. 6 and 9. The schedule doesn't get any easier in the three games against teams outside of the Metro Division. San Jose heads to Columbus Feb. 2, the Jackets head to Toronto to face Auston Matthews and the Maples Leafs on Valentine's Day, and the Chicago Blackhawks are at Nationwide Feb. 24.
While February boasts the most Divisional games, March holds the heaviest schedule overall for the Jackets. They play 16 games over 31 days including two back-to-backs. Nine of the March matchups are against 2016-17 playoff teams. The second of the team's four-game home stands falls Mar. 6 - 12 and includes a visit from the Golden Knights. Columbus will also host a game on Saturday, Mar. 17, St. Patrick's Day, against the Ottawa Senators. Both Jackets' three-game West Coast trips fall in this month, one of which takes them to Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver Mar. 27-31. That trip will mark the opportunity for the Jackets to repeat a sweep of the Oilers, Flames and Canucks in one trip, something they did for the first time last season.
VIEW THE FULL 2017-18 SCHEDULE
Just three regular season games fall in the final month of the schedule. Columbus will welcome Detroit and Pittsburgh to Nationwide Arena and finish up their 82-game campaign Saturday, Apr. 7 in Nashville against the defending Western Conference Champions.
The 2017-18 schedule release is presented by Mike's Hard Lemonade.