BUFFALO, N.Y. (June 21, 2012) --- The Buffalo Sabres and the National Hockey League today announced the team’s schedule for the 2012-13 regular season. The Sabres will play on consecutive nights a franchise-low 11 times in 2012-13 after leading the league in back-to-back sets during each of the last two seasons.
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“Terry Pegula tasked us with getting the best possible schedule for our players regardless of whether it meant sacrificing prime home weekend dates,” said Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black. “As such, our schedule-making requests and decisions this year were driven by a 'Hockey First' philosophy that sought to reduce back-to-back situations and maximize the amount of recovery time between games.”
In the team’s 41-season history, the Sabres have averaged 20 back-to-back sets per year. Since the 2005-06 season, they have played the most in the league. Of the 11 back-to-back sets in 2012-13, only five will take place after Jan. 1, four fewer than during the same period last season.
Buffalo will open the season at home on Saturday, Oct. 13 vs. Pittsburgh and will wrap up their schedule at home as well, with Fan Appreciation Night on Saturday, Apr. 13 vs. Boston. The variable pricing designations and box office pricing for individual games will be released at a later date.
The Sabres will play only four Friday night games at First Niagara Center in 2012-13. This total is six fewer than last year’s 11 and seven fewer than the 12 Friday night home games the team has averaged since 2005-06. Also changing from previous years is the team’s preferred start time for home games, which will now be 7 p.m. on all weekdays, including Friday.
“We believe that the earlier 7 p.m. start time will make the travel schedule easier for our players and will make it easier for our younger fans to follow the team on school nights,” Black said.
The team will also play more Sunday games than usual this season, with nine Sunday dates on the schedule, including four at First Niagara Center, after playing a 2011-12 schedule that included only one Sunday game.
The Sunday home schedule includes a “Tailgate and Hockey” game on the Sunday of the Buffalo Bills’ bye week (Oct. 28 vs. Philadelphia, 5 p.m.), a home game on Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 3 vs. St. Louis, 3:30 p.m.) and a Feb. 10 matchup with the Ottawa Senators. The team will round out their Sunday home games by participating in “Hockey Day in America” once again, with a home game on Sunday, Feb. 17 vs. Pittsburgh at 7:30 p.m.
Our schedule-making requests and decisions this year were driven by a 'Hockey First' philosophy that sought to reduce back-to-back situations and maximize the amount of recovery time between games. - Sabres President Ted Black
The opponent breakdown of the 82-game schedule remains the same as last season. Each team will play six games against their divisional opponents (24 games), four games against each non-divisional conference opponent (40 games), one game against each of the 15 non-conference opponents (15), and three additional “at large” games (Chicago, Phoenix and San Jose).
After playing seven of their first 10 games at First Niagara Center, the Sabres will hit the road for four games in the span of six days, tying for their longest road trip of the season. The trip will begin on Nov. 6 in Philadelphia, continuing through San Jose (Nov. 8) and Phoenix (Nov. 10) before wrapping up in Anaheim on Nov. 11. The 2012-13 season will be the first time the Sabres haven’t played five or more consecutive road games in a season since 2001-02.
The Sabres will play six home-and-home series in 2012-13, with opponents including New Jersey (Oct. 24 and 26), Philadelphia (Nov. 16 and 17), Montreal (Dec. 6 and 8, Dec. 15 and 17), Boston (Feb. 6 and 8) and Ottawa (Feb. 10 and 12).
Other schedule highlights include a visit from the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 5 and the return of “Tux and Pucks” on Dec. 31 vs. Ottawa at 5 p.m.