Today is a huge day for NHL action. At least from a games-played perspective that is. While ten-game, eleven-game, and twelve-game days are frequent throughout the league calendar, October 15th marks the first of a rare group of days this season where nearly every NHL team is in action.
Beginning at 7:00pm ET, there are 13 games on the schedule tonight. 26 of the the 30 teams in the league take the ice, including several making their season debuts, with only Buffalo, Carolina, Edmonton, and Los Angeles having the day off. Fans will have to wait almost a month to get another chance to see this many teams in action at once. The next 13-game days come on Saturday, Novmber 5th, when the Avalanche and Wild get the day started with a matinee game, and Tuesday, November 15th, the first of many big Tuesdays.
December features no such hockey-heavy days, but the NHL has cleverly scheduled big days as bookends to All-Star weekend in late January. Thursday, January 26th features 13 games, including Eastern Conference rivalry match-ups in Pittsburgh-Boston and Tampa Bay-Florida. Then, after All-Star festivities are over, the league returns with the ultra-rare 14-game day on Tuesday, January 31st, which is littered with great games.
Not long after that, there are 13-game days on back-to-back Saturdays, February 4th and February 11th, each highlighted by a handful of strong matinee match-ups. March is without any big hockey days, but they return in April as the regular season enters it’s stretch run. Tuesday, April 4th features 13 games, and many of them are divisional face-offs that could have important postseason implications. Finally, the league wraps up the year with 14 games on the second-to-last day of the season as Saturday, April 8th will be the regular season finale for many and potentially crucial points will be at stake as the playoff picture solidifies. 28 teams will surely be desperate for a win on the final Saturday of the season.
So mark your calendars hockey fans: the 2016-17 season has begun and today is the first of nine days this year when you should tune in if you want to maximize your NHL exposure this season.