New season. New division. New rivals. Same objective.
The Minnesota Wild’s 2013-14 regular-season schedule has been released with couple of new wrinkles thrown into the mix for the upcoming NHL year. Minnesota plays in the inaugural season of the new Central Division. Along with a new division, for the first time in team history every NHL team will visit Xcel Energy Center during the season. Finally, there will be a two-week Olympic break in February while NHLers represent their countries at The Games.
The Wild looks to keep its unbeaten streak in home openers at Xcel Energy Center going against the Los Angeles Kings at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3.
Under new division alignment, Minnesota will have plenty of time to develop some bad blood during the regular season. The club will play 29 games against its new division, including at least four games against each member: defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks (three home, two road); Colorado Avalanche (two home, three road); Dallas Stars (two home, two road); Nashville Predators (three home, two road); St. Louis Blues (three home, two road); and Winnipeg Jets (two home, three road).
"I love rivalry hockey and I think that it’s going to bring that here," Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said about the new alignment.
An added wrinkle to realignment and this year’s schedule—the Wild will play one home and one road game against every team in the Eastern Conference, split into the Metropolitan and Atlantic Divisions, a total of 16 out-of-conference games.
Eastern Conference matchups that Wild fans might want to mark on their calendars: Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins (Saturday, April 5); Original Six member the Habs (Friday, Nov. 1); Zach Parise’s former team the New Jersey Devils (Sunday, Nov. 3); the New York Blueshirts (Thursday, March 13); and the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins (Tuesday, April 8).
"(It’s) great from the fans standpoint: Every team in the league will visit every building," Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said shortly after realignment was announced. "There’s a lot of star players in the East — Stamkos, Crosby, Ovechkin and Malkin, and you can just go right down the list. Having some of the Original Six teams like Boston, Montreal and the Rangers every year as well it will be great."
Good news for Wild fans who weren't thrilled about staying up all hours of the night for West Coast start times: Of the Wild’s 82 regular season games, 67 start at or before 7 p.m. (CT), with only four games in 2013 starting after 7 p.m. (CT) and none before Nov. 30.
Staying with some customs, Minnesota’s home schedule features traditional holiday games such as the Friday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 29) at 5 p.m. against Colorado, as well as the New Year’s Eve game, a 5 p.m. contest versus St. Louis. The Wild will also host a 1 p.m. game versus Detroit on March 22 prior to the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game.
This season, NHL players will be able to represent their countries at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Minnesota plays its last game before the Olympic break on Feb. 6 at home vs. Nashville and returns to the ice again Feb. 27 at Edmonton.
For a breakdown of the Wild's 2013-14 regular season schedule, click here.
Wild preseason tickets go on sale Monday, Aug. 19, at 10 a.m. The preseason schedule can be found, here.