Breaking down the 2014-2015 Schedule

(Wikimedia Commons)

(Wikimedia Commons)

By Dave Turner

With the release of the 2014-2015 NHL Schedule on Sunday, it feels that much closer to the start of the season.

In actuality, we’re still about 3 months away from the preseason, but with the draft and free agency period, it’ll be here before we know it.

A few quick stats:

– The Devils open up with 4 games on the road. Their October 18 home opener against San Jose is the latest home opener in the league.

– NJ will play 18 sets of back-to-backs, down from the 22 they had last season.

– If you’re not a morning, or afternoon person, the home schedule is for you. The Devils do not play an afternoon home game.

– The last time that they will leave the eastern time zone is on March 14th when they play in Phoenix.

– Between February 17th and March 8th, the Devils play nine of ten games at home. The only road game in that span is at Columbus.

– Going back even farther to January 28th, the Devils will actually play 15 of 19 games from Prudential Center.

– The schedule features some long road-trips as well. Between Nov 6th at St. Louis and Dec 4th against Toronto, the Devils will play eight of the eleven games in that span on the road

Most intriguing games:

1. New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils, October 21, 2014 – This one is a no-brainer. The Rangers fans will be cocky after a great season, but Devils fans will be quick to remind them that they still haven’t won the cup in 20 years. That being said, the fans should be really into it and the teams should be amped to get an early season win in the series as well.

2. Detroit Red Wings at New Jersey Devils, November 28, 2014 – The Devils play the Wings after a four-game Western Canada stint. After playing in different time zones up north, they have a few days of rest before their game against the Wings. Considering that Detroit was a team that edged the Devils out of the playoffs, it’s quite possible that the two teams might be jostling for positioning again.

3. New Jersey Devils at Los Angeles Kings, January 14, 2015 – Any road trip that features the Kings, Ducks and Sharks is a doozy. The Devils take on the Kings first on their west coast road trip. The two teams played very close games last year, with the Devils winning an overtime game 2-1 in New Jersey. Any time you get to compare yourself to the defending Stanley Cup Champion is a good one.

4. New Jersey Devils at Columbus Blue Jackets, February 28, 2015 – Columbus was a thorn in the Devils’ side last season. They also finished ahead of NJ and in the playoffs. There’s no doubt that Columbus will be in the mix again and stealing a home game from the Jackets would be huge, also considering the fact that the two teams clash just a few days after the tilt in ‘Lumbus.

5. New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils, April 7, 2015- A late-season home and home with the Rangers is already intriguing, but throw in the fact that these two teams will play for four big points and it should be some great hockey if both are still in contention. This game is also the home finale for the Devils, so they’ll look to go out with a big win and perhaps even put themselves into the playoffs.

Some Thoughts:

The road trip to start the season is crucial for this team. The 0-4-3 start last year ultimately burned them, as they never really recovered from that tough start. This season, the team should be well aware that they have to get out of the gates hot. Opening night in Philly is not easy, but with games against the Panthers, Lightning and a Capitals team getting used to a new system, 2-2 is a decent mark to shoot for, 2-1-1 would be a success.

There are some long home-stands but the road trips aren’t so bad. When they go on the road they have to hold their own, but the mid-February home-heavy stretch needs to be when they start to rack up points.  Their longest road trip is four games, done at the beginning of the season and again when they go to Canada, so they won’t have any extremely long stints away from Prudential Center.

All-in-all, there’s nothing that really jumps out as being overly unachievable for this team. Sure, the four game road trip to start the season is tough and the 19 back-to-backs aren’t easy, but it’s the price you pay for traveling much less than some other teams.

What game excites you the most? Leave a comment on LiveFyre and share your thoughts!