Antici……Pation! 2013 Sabres Schedule Breakdown
After 119 days, the Buffalo Sabres and the rest of the NHL are back in business and schedules are out following the signing of the memorandum of understanding by the NHL and NHLPA. The Sabres open their season at home versus the Flyers in a nationally-televised game, closing it under the same roof versus the Flyers. Click through for a month-by-month breakdown of the 48 game (ir)regular season schedule (which you can also read by in unadulterated form by clicking this link to Sabres.com)
Sabres kick off the season 1/20 at home, hosting the Flyers for an afternoon NBC game for the first leg of a back-to-back. They follow that up with the second leg at the Maple Leafs. Their second back-to-back of the season finds them visiting the Hurricanes on 1/24, then welcoming them to First Niagara Center the next night. The Sabres have one other afternoon game in January, an NHL Network-televised tilt visiting the Capitals. The month rounds out with a pair of divisional games, one at home versus Toronto and the other on the road versus Boston.
Despite opening the season with more games on the road than at home, the Sabres need to get off to a quick start if they want to get the early season monkey off their back that’s plagued them in recent seasons. Two games each versus the Maple Leafs and Hurricanes, teams they’ve done well against the last few years, should help with that. Tough clashes with the Flyers and Bruins can hamper it.
The Sabres only have two back-to-backs to deal with in the month of February. First is at Montreal 2/2 and home versus the Panthers 2/3, both being afternoon games. Second is at Islanders 2/9 then home against the Bruins 2/10. They have seven divisional games, 2 each against the Habs, Bruins, and Senators (both in Ottawa), and one more against the Maple Leafs. The rest of the month is filled out two games each against the Panthers and Islanders (one each home and away), Jets, Penguins (which is an afternoon game on NBC), and Lightning.
Lots of tough divisional games and a match-up with the Sabre-killing Penguins makes February are grueling month. Half of the games this month will be at home, including the match-up with the Jets. That will eliminate a nasty short trip all the way to Winnipeg for one game.
March opens with an afternoon game hosting the Devils follwed by the Sabres playing the next night in New York versus the Rangers, leaving two more sets of back-to-backs in the month. Number two is on 3/16 versus the Senators (an afternoon game) then against the Capitals in Washington. Number three is on 3/30 hosting the Capitals then another home game the next day versus the Bruins. Two games will be nationally televised in March, both on NBC Sports Network. The first is the 3/10 clash with the Flyers and the second is the 3/17 game in Washington.
March is filled with all sorts of non-divisional shenanigans for the Sabres, with ten of the fifteen games being played outside the Northeast. Only a pair of games versus the Canadiens and single match-ups with the Bruins, Senators, and Maple Leafs take place in the division. Of the fifteen games this month, only six will be played at home. Will the Sabres play the role of road warriors or wilt away from the comfort of home?
The final month of the 2013 regular season starts off with a bang in Pittsburgh on NBC Sports Network and finishes up with a fun Friday night game at home versus the Islanders. In between, the Sabres will play two sets of back-to-backs as the campaign winds down – a double home set 4/13 and 4/14 versus the Flyers (which is an afternoon game) and Lightning (which is an early evening 5PM game), then a home game against the Rangers on 4/19 followed by an NHL Network-televised night visiting the Penguins. Fleshing out this month of spring showers are games all throughout the division and conference, but with one major caveat.
The Sabres get to finish the season at home for ten games out of fourteen, including three of their last four. Should the blue and gold be in the running for a playoff spot, this is an ideal way to punch their ticket to the dance. Besides their two national games against the Penguins, the Sabres will also have two more games shown across the country. The 4/7 game versus the Devils and the the 4/17 visit to Boston will both be shown on NBC Sports Network.
As with every team during this condensed season, the Sabres are going to have to run the gauntlet to make it to the playoffs and that includes starting and finishing strong. Will this shortened campaign make for more exciting games and fresher players all season, or will the drastically-decreased time off between games induce an extra four months of playoff-like wear on the same guys who will willingly submit themselves to it for an extra two in search of that vaunted silver chalice? One thing is for certain: s***’* going to be bonkers until the end of June.