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Red Wings unveil 2013-14 schedule

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Pavel Datsyuk, who signed a three-year extension this summer, has made it known how excited he is for this year's Winter Classic, telling a blogger, "Having experienced it in Chicago, I am now really looking forward to the celebrations and a lot of emotions this time in Michigan.” (Photo by Dave Reginek)

DETROIT – A move to the Eastern Conference, a return to the Winter Classic, and a two-week Olympic break are a few highlights of the Red Wings’ 2013-14 schedule as the NHL takes on a new geographically appropriate four-division plan into the upcoming season.

Obviously, the biggest benefit of migrating to the East for the Red Wings – and their local fans – is that they will now play the majority of their road games against teams in the same time zone. With the new alignment the Wings will play just 14 games outside of the Eastern time zone, which is 15 fewer than they played in the 2011-12 regular season.

The new alignment also means all 30 teams will play in all 30 arenas at least once per season, which is paramount to the Red Wings who can continue some of their rivalries with Western Conference clubs, especially the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

The Wings and Blackhawks will face-off twice, in Detroit on Jan. 22 and in Chicago on March 16.

The Red Wings will compete in the eight-team Atlantic Division along with Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto. Detroit will play each of its division foes at least four times and twice at home. The Wings will face Florida and Tampa Bay five times, including three home games against the Lightning.

Detroit will play the remaining eight conference opponents three times each with two home games each against Carolina, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington.

The schedule features the much-anticipated Winter Classic between the Red Wings and Maples Leafs at the 115,000-seat Michigan Stadium on the campus of the University of Michigan, which was re-scheduled for Jan. 1. The outdoor matchup between the Original Six brethren was originally planned for last New Year’s Day, however, it was cancelled because of the NHL lockout.

The Red Wings will open the first week of the season against three conference opponents with the home-opener against the Sabres on Oct. 2, followed by first road games against Carolina on Oct. 4, and the defending Eastern Conference champion Bruins on Oct. 5.

There isn’t much of a history between the Red Wings and Sabres, however, the October game will mark the third time that the two franchises have faced-off in a season-opener. Goals by Kris Draper and Tomas Holmstrom helped the Wings claim a 2-0 victory over the Sabres at Joe Louis Arena in 1999. The Sabres opened the 1975-76 campaign with a 4-0 win over Detroit at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium.

Other key dates on the schedule are the Red Wings’ annual Thanksgiving Eve game (Nov. 27 vs. Boston), and five afternoon matinees, including 1 p.m. puck-drops on Columbus Day (Oct. 14) at Boston and Black Friday (Nov. 29) at New York Islanders. The Wings will also play afternoon games at Washington (Feb. 2), at Minnesota (Mar. 22), and at St. Louis (Apr. 13).

The league schedule will go on a two-week hiatus in February to allow players to compete in the Olympic in Sochi, Russia. While suspending the regular season isn’t ideal for the league, it’s conceivable that some Red Wings – most likely Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Daniel Alfredsson, Jimmy Howard and Justin Abdelkader – could represent their countries in the Olympics.

The Olympic break will keep the Red Wings away from Joe Louis Arena for more than a month with just one home game (Feb. 3 vs. Vancouver) scheduled for February. The Wings will return to The Joe March 6 when they host Colorado.

A downside to the schedule is that more than a third of the Wings’ season will be played on consecutive dates. Detroit will play 30 back-to-back games, including home games against Pittsburgh (Dec. 14) and Tampa Bay (Dec. 15), and Colorado (March 6) and New Jersey (March 7).

Here’s a look at seven key Red Wings’ games, one for each month of the regular season:

Former Red Wings defenseman and assistant coach Paul MacLean begins his third season behind the Senators' bench where he has compiled a 65-48-16 record. (Photo by Getty Images)

Ottawa – Oct. 23 (at Joe Louis Arena)
It will undoubtedly be a very awkward night for Red Wings forward Daniel Alfredsson who was the face of the Ottawa franchise for 18 years. It’s been more than two years since these clubs have faced one another. The last time was the 2011-12 season opener won by Detroit 5-3. However, the highly-decorated Swedish star assisted on the Sens’ final tally of the game. … This game also marks the return of former Red Wings defenseman and assistant coach Paul MacLean, who last season became the second Jack Adams Award winner in Ottawa franchise history.

Remaining October Games:
Oct. 2 vs. Buffalo
Oct. 4 at Carolina
Oct. 5 at Boston
Oct. 10 vs. Phoenix
Oct. 12 vs. Philadelphia
Oct. 14 at Boston
Oct. 15 vs. Columbus
Oct. 17 at Colorado
Oct. 19 at Phoenix
Oct. 21 vs. San Jose
Oct. 26 vs. N.Y. Rangers
Oct. 30 at Vancouver

For the second time in three seasons, captain Andrew Ladd led the Jets in points, producing 18 goals and 28 assists last season. (Photo by Getty Images)

Winnipeg – Nov. 4 (at MTS Centre)

The Red Wings return to Manitoba for the first time since 1996 when they eliminated the Jets in a six-game opening-round playoff series. A few months later, the Winnipeg franchise packed up and moved to the Valley of the Sun where they have played the last 16 seasons as the Phoenix Coyotes. Hockey returned to Manitoba when the Atlanta Thrashers defected three years ago, and now, realignment has kindly returned the new Jets to the travel-friendly Western Conference. … The Red Wings host the Jets during the 2011-12 season, defeating Winnipeg 7-1 at Joe Louis Arena.

Remaining November Games:
Nov. 1 at Calgary
Nov. 2 at Edmonton
Nov. 7 vs. Dallas
Nov. 9 vs. Tampa Bay
Nov. 12 vs. Winnipeg
Nov. 15 vs. Washington
Nov. 16 at N.Y. Islanders
Nov. 19 vs. Nashville
Nov. 21 vs. Carolina
Nov. 23 vs. Ottawa
Nov. 24 at Buffalo
Nov. 27 vs. Boston
Nov. 29 at N.Y. Islanders

Joffrey Lupul scored the game-winning goal for the Maple Leafs the last time they faced the Red Wings. (Photo by Getty Images)

Toronto – Dec. 21 (at Air Canada Centre)

A prelude to the Winter Classic, the Red Wings and Leafs will rekindle a divisional rivalry that hasn’t existed since the days of the 1997-98 season. Fairly certain this game will be the subject of a segment or two for HBO’s cameras as they capture footage for the award-winning “24/7” series, which will follow the two teams along the road to the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor. … In the last nine years, the Leafs have a compiled a 5-2-0 record against the Wings. The Wings and Leafs last played in January 2012, but only six players from that game remain on Toronto’s roster, including captain Dion Phaneuf and goalie James Reimer.

Remaining December Games:
Dec. 1 at Ottawa
Dec. 4 vs. Philadelphia
Dec. 6 at New Jersey
Dec. 7 vs. Florida
Dec. 10 at Florida
Dec. 12 at Tampa Bay
Dec. 14 vs. Pittsburgh
Dec. 15 vs. Tampa Bay
Dec. 17 vs. Anaheim
Dec. 19 vs. Calgary
Dec. 23 vs. N.Y. Islanders
Dec. 28 at Florida
Dec. 30 at Nashville

Brent Seabrook scored the OT winner in Game 7, lifting the Blackhawks over Jimmy Howard and the Red Wings in the conference semifinals last spring. (Photo by Getty Images)

Chicago – Jan. 22 (at Joe Louis Arena)
There’s always bad-blood when these two rivals battle, but there’s added incentive for some Red Wings’ players who feel that they let the Blackhawks off the ropes in the Western Conference semifinals last spring. Trailing the best-of-seven series three games to one, the Hawks won three straight to eliminate the Red Wings. Always a must-see contest when these two clubs get together, this will be the Blackhawks’ lone visit to The Joe, where, over the last three regular seasons, five of seven games have been decided by one goal.

Remaining January Games:
Jan. 1 vs. Toronto (Michigan Stadium)
Jan. 4 at Dallas
Jan. 9 at San Jose
Jan. 11 at Los Angeles
Jan. 12 at Anaheim
Jan. 16 at N.Y. Rangers
Jan. 18 vs. Los Angeles
Jan. 20 vs. St. Louis
Jan. 24 vs. Montreal
Jan. 26 vs. Florida
Jan. 28 at Philadelphia
Jan. 31 vs. Washington

The two Henriks - Sedin and Zetterberg - could likely be Olympic teammates in February.(Photo by Getty Images)

Vancouver – Feb. 3 (at Joe Louis Arena)
Thanks to the Olympic shutdown, the Red Wings have one home game scheduled in February, but it’s a good one as the Vancouver Canucks and their controversial new coach John Tortorella make their only visit to Joe Louis Arena. By then the hockey world will know if Roberto Luongo, Ryan Kesler and the Sedin twins can co-exist with their new coach, who doesn’t mince words. Over the last two season, the Red Wings have posted a 4-1-2 record against the Canucks, including a lopsided 8-3 win on home ice last February.

Remaining February Games:
Feb. 2 at Washington
Feb. 6 at Florida
Feb. 8 at Tampa Bay
Feb. 26 at Montreal
Feb. 27 at Ottawa

Unless the Wings and Devils meet in the playoffs, this game will be Martin Brodeur's final game at The Joe. (Photo by Dave Reginek)

New Jersey – March 7 (at Joe Louis Arena)
EA Sports’ NHL 14 coverboy Martin Brodeur will make his final regular-season visit to Joe Louis Arena when the Red Wings host the four-time Vezina Trophy winning goaltender and the New Jersey Devils. In 20 NHL seasons, Brodeur has a 2-7-0 record with a 2.79 goals-against average and one shutout at The Joe. … The Devils swept the Red Wings in the 1995 Stanley Cup finals, however, since then, Detroit has compiled a 10-2-0 home record against the Devils.

Remaining March Games:
Mar. 4 at New Jersey
Mar. 6 vs. Colorado
Mar. 9 at N.Y. Rangers
Mar. 11 at Columbus
Mar. 14 vs. Edmonton
Mar. 16 at Chicago
Mar. 18 vs. Toronto
Mar. 20 vs. Pittsburgh
Mar. 22 at Minnesota
Mar. 23 vs. Minnesota
Mar. 25 at Columbus
Mar. 27 vs. Montreal
Mar. 29 at Toronto
Mar. 30 vs. Tampa Bay

Thomas Vanek led the Sabres in goals (20) and points (41) last season, the second straight that Buffalo missed the playoffs. (Photo by Getty Images)

Buffalo – April 8 (at First Niagara Center)
This will be the last regular season game of the season against a divisional opponent, which could play a big role in shaking out the final seedings for the newly formatted Stanley Cup playoffs. While five of the teams in the Wings’ new division made the playoffs last spring, the Sabres weren’t one of them. Buffalo, Tampa Bay and Florida finished No. 12, No. 14, and No. 15, respectively, in a 15-team conference. … Starting this season, the top three teams in each division will make up the first six teams in each conference. The remaining two playoff berths will be filled by the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference, based only on regular-season points.

Remaining April Games:
Apr. 2 vs. Boston
Apr. 4 vs. Buffalo
Apr. 5 at Montreal
Apr. 9 at Pittsburgh
Apr. 11 vs. Carolina
Apr. 13 at St. Louis

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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