New Division, New Schedule, New Events: A Look at 2013-14

We're counting down the hours to the start of the NHL season. New division. Full schedule. Random outdoor game. Olympic break. It's gonna be an interesting year.

The Los Angeles Kings hit the ice tonight, trying to recapture the Stanley Cup. Hopefully you've gotten to read SB Nation's amazing Season Preview (and our contributions to the Kings section), and we'll have a full preview of tonight's showdown with the Minnesota Wild coming soon. But before things get going, let's look at a few factors that are going to make this season an interesting one for the Kings.

The Division

Unlike the poor saps who now have to play in something called a Metropolitan Division, the Kings get to stay exactly where they've been for the last 20 years: the Pacific Division. The surroundings have changed, though, and regular trips to Canada replace trips to Texas. You can let Battle of California convince you that this is an improvement from a non-hockey perspective. From a hockey perspective, it's kind of a push. We lose Dallas, a team which is oging to struggle to make the playoffs this year. We also lose a matchup that gives us one or two dramatic comebacks and a number of competitive games each season. But Mike Ribeiro is still in the division. D'oh!

So who do we gain? The Vancouver Canucks, who we know and love. The Edmonton Oilers, who are the hot young team that hasn't put it all together yet. And the Calgary Flames, who seem destined for the cellar. The Canucks are familiar foes, but if you don't know much about the Oilers or Flames, check out John's features on Edmonton and Calgary from the summer.

The Stadium Series

Okay, it's pretty unlikely that this game affects the Kings in any significant way. More worrisome is the fact that the Kings have road games in St. Louis, Detroit, Boston, Columbus, and Anaheim in the span of a week leading up to the showdown at Dodger Stadium. I can't speak to how ice quality affects the Kings, but they're going to be a tired team when all that is said and done. The bright side, of course, is that we get to watch hockey at Chavez freaking Ravine. Oh, and the US Olympic team will be announced at the game, which leads us nicely into...

The Olympic Break

I used to have a poster in my room of the 2006 Olympians from the Los Angeles Kings. Let's play a game: can you name the four Kings who went to Italy that season? I'll be impressed if you can name three and surprised if you get all four. Answer can be found in the comments.

In 2010, the Kings sent five players, four of whom medaled. The Kings are guaranteed to send four again this year, and could send six NHLers if everything breaks right. That hasn't happened since Nagano in 1998.

Anze Kopitar will probably be done early, but all others (Brown, Quick, Doughty, probably Voynov, perhaps Richards or Carter) are playing on teams which have gold medal aspirations and will likely play into the medal rounds. For bruiser Brown and ice time leaders Doughty and Voynov, this means not getting too much time off. But for potential starter Quick, this means adding 5-6 games to the load. It would be nice for the Kings to be in the top half of the conference around this time, preferably with a cushion that allows Ben Scrivens to spell Quick.

The Schedule

Thu, Oct 3 AWAY Minnesota 5:00 PM NBCSN
Fri, Oct 4 AWAY Winnipeg 5:00 PM FSW1
Mon, Oct 7 HOME NY Rangers 7:30 PM FSW1
Wed, Oct 9 HOME Ottawa 7:30 PM FSW1
Fri, Oct 11 AWAY Carolina 4:00 PM FSW1
Sun, Oct 13 AWAY Florida 12:00 PM FSW1
Tue, Oct 15 AWAY Tampa Bay 4:30 PM FSW1
Thu, Oct 17 AWAY Nashville 5:00 PM FSW1
Sat, Oct 19 HOME Dallas 7:30 PM FSW1
Mon, Oct 21 HOME Calgary 7:30 PM FSW1
Thu, Oct 24 HOME Phoenix 7:30 PM FSW1
Sun, Oct 27 HOME Edmonton 6:00 PM FSW1
Tue, Oct 29 AWAY Phoenix 7:00 PM FSW1
Wed, Oct 30 HOME San Jose 7:30 PM FSW1
Sat, Nov 2 HOME Nashville 7:30 PM FSW1
Thu, Nov 7 HOME Buffalo 7:30 PM FSW1
Sat, Nov 9 HOME Vancouver 7:00 PM CBC FSW1
Tue, Nov 12 AWAY Buffalo 4:00 PM FSW1
Thu, Nov 14 AWAY NY Islanders 4:00 PM FSW1
Fri, Nov 15 AWAY New Jersey 4:00 PM FSW1
Sun, Nov 17 AWAY NY Rangers 4:00 PM FSW1
Tue, Nov 19 HOME Tampa Bay 7:30 PM FSW1
Thu, Nov 21 HOME New Jersey 7:30 PM FSW1
Sat, Nov 23 HOME Colorado 7:30 PM FSW1
Mon, Nov 25 AWAY Vancouver 7:00 PM FSW1
Wed, Nov 27 AWAY San Jose 7:30 PM FSW1
Sat, Nov 30 HOME Calgary 7:00 PM CBC FSW1
Mon, Dec 2 HOME St. Louis 7:30 PM NHLNET-CA FSW1
Tue, Dec 3 AWAY Anaheim 7:00 PM FSW1
Sat, Dec 7 HOME NY Islanders 7:30 PM FSW1
Tue, Dec 10 AWAY Montreal 4:00 PM RDS FSW1
Wed, Dec 11 AWAY Toronto 4:30 PM FSW1
Sat, Dec 14 AWAY Ottawa 11:00 AM NHLN FSW1
Sun, Dec 15 AWAY Chicago 4:00 PM FSW1
Tue, Dec 17 HOME Edmonton 7:30 PM FSW1
Thu, Dec 19 HOME San Jose 7:30 PM FSW1
Sat, Dec 21 HOME Colorado 1:00 PM NHLN FSW1
Mon, Dec 23 HOME Dallas 7:30 PM FSW1
Sat, Dec 28 AWAY Nashville 5:00 PM FSW1
Mon, Dec 30 AWAY Chicago 5:00 PM NBCSN
Tue, Dec 31 AWAY Dallas 5:00 PM FSW1
Thu, Jan 2 AWAY St. Louis 5:00 PM FSW1
Sat, Jan 4 HOME Vancouver 7:00 PM CBC FSW1
Tue, Jan 7 HOME Minnesota 7:30 PM FSW1
Thu, Jan 9 HOME Boston 7:30 PM FSW1
Sat, Jan 11 HOME Detroit 7:30 PM FSW1
Mon, Jan 13 HOME Vancouver 7:30 PM FSW1
Thu, Jan 16 AWAY St. Louis 5:00 PM NBCSN
Sat, Jan 18 AWAY Detroit 4:00 PM FSW1
Mon, Jan 20 AWAY Boston 10:00 AM NHLNET-CA FSW1
Tue, Jan 21 AWAY Columbus 4:00 PM FSW1
Thu, Jan 23 AWAY Anaheim 7:00 PM FSW1
Sat, Jan 25 HOME Anaheim 6:30 PM NBCSN
Mon, Jan 27 AWAY San Jose 7:00 PM NBCSN
Tue, Jan 28 AWAY Phoenix 6:00 PM FSW1
Thu, Jan 30 HOME Pittsburgh 7:30 PM FSW1
Sat, Feb 1 HOME Philadelphia 1:00 PM NHLN FSW1
Mon, Feb 3 HOME Chicago 7:30 PM NHLNET-CA FSW1
Thu, Feb 6 HOME Columbus 7:30 PM NHLNET-CA FSW1
Wed, Feb 26 AWAY Colorado 7:00 PM NBCSN
Thu, Feb 27 AWAY Calgary 6:30 PM TSN FSW1
Sat, Mar 1 HOME Carolina 1:00 PM FSW1
Mon, Mar 3 HOME Montreal 7:30 PM RDS FSW1
Thu, Mar 6 AWAY Winnipeg 4:00 PM CBC FSW1
Sun, Mar 9 AWAY Edmonton 5:00 PM FSW1
Mon, Mar 10 AWAY Calgary 6:00 PM FSW1
Thu, Mar 13 HOME Toronto 7:30 PM TSN FSW1
Sat, Mar 15 HOME Anaheim 7:30 PM FSW1
Mon, Mar 17 HOME Phoenix 7:30 PM NHLNET-CA FSW1
Thu, Mar 20 HOME Washington 7:30 PM FSW1
Sat, Mar 22 HOME Florida 1:00 PM FSW1
Mon, Mar 24 AWAY Philadelphia 4:00 PM FSW1
Tue, Mar 25 AWAY Washington 4:00 PM FSW1
Thu, Mar 27 AWAY Pittsburgh 4:00 PM FSW1
Sat, Mar 29 HOME Winnipeg 7:00 PM CBC FSW1
Mon, Mar 31 HOME Minnesota 7:00 PM NBCSN
Wed, Apr 2 HOME Phoenix 7:30 PM NBCSN
Thu, Apr 3 AWAY San Jose 7:30 PM NBCSN
Sat, Apr 5 AWAY Vancouver 7:00 PM CBC FSW2
Wed, Apr 9 AWAY Calgary 7:00 PM TSN
Thu, Apr 10 AWAY Edmonton 6:30 PM TSN FSW1
Sat, Apr 12 HOME Anaheim 7:30 PM FSW2

Three key observations:

  • October is a really good chance for the Kings to grab an early lead in the division; the stretch from October 11-29 is probably the softest for LA all season. November is only slightly tougher. If the Kings want to finally win the Pacific Division, they'll need to have a strong opening two months./

January: toughest homestand of the season (Vancouver x 2, Boston, Detroit, Minnesota) right before the toughest road trip of the season (St. Louis, Boston and Detroit again, Columbus and Anaheim). Then the outdoor game.
That April homestretch is going to be fun. Each division opponent, back to back. The three days off before the final three games will be really nice.
Three relatively meaningless observations:

  • Hey, cool, Eastern teams! And as such, we only get to play Detroit twice. Make it count.
  • After tonight's nationally televised game, the Kings have to wait more than two months to appear on national American television again. And no games on NBC, at all. Name one other professional sports league that decides not to show a team which won a title LAST YEAR on its biggest network. I know it's a Western problem, but still, show your best teams, NHL.
    Quick v Bernier: December 11 or March 13./