Dates to Circle on 2017-18 NHL Schedule

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Matthew Jordan

Thursday, June 22, 2017 8:07 PM GMT

NHL fans and bettors won’t have to wait long for a rematch of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final in the new season. The first meeting between Pittsburgh and Nashville highlights the biggest dates on the 2017-18 schedule.

Like Major League Baseball and the NBA, it’s hard to get too fired up about one matchup in the too-long NHL regular-season 82-game schedule, which begins next season Oct. 4 and concludes on April 7, 2018. But here are some dates that will get more buzz than usual.

Wednesday, Oct. 4: Blues at Penguins

Pittsburgh raises its second straight Stanley Cup banner to the rafters at PPG Paints Arena to join those from 2016, 1991, 1992 and 2009. Last year, the Pens beat Washington 3-2 in a shootout on banner night. Sidney Crosby missed the game with a concussion. The Blues and Pens split last regular season, each winning on the road by three goals.

Saturday, Oct. 7: Predators at Penguins

It’s the first of two meetings between the 2017 Stanley Cup Final foes, with the other in Nashville, where the Penguins clinched the Cup in Game 6, on Nov. 11. You can probably already assume that Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne gets this game off with his terrible history in Pittsburgh. He has never won there in the regular season and Rinne stopped just 34 of the 45 shots he faced seven periods at PPG Paints Arena in the Stanley Cup Final. The Penguins are +800 favorites on BetOnline’s NHL odds to threepeat next June. No club has done that since the Islanders won four in a row starting in 1980. Nashville is +1400 to win the Cup.

Tuesday, Oct. 10: Coyotes at Golden Knights

It’s Vegas’ home opener and it should be a rocking T-Mobile Arena as one of the four U.S. major professional sports leagues makes a Sin City debut. Will bettors be able to wager on this game in the arena? With their mobile devices? We still haven’t heard how the NHL will handle all that. The Golden Knights appeared to have a solid expansion draft in landing the likes of Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, forwards James Neal (Predators), Cody Eakin (Stars), and Jonathan Marchessault (Panthers), among others. Ottawa’s Marc Methot should anchor the blue line – if he’s not traded.

Saturday, Dec. 16: Canadiens at Senators

These rivals will play in the NHL100 Classic at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa, home of the Redblacks of the CFL. The game will mark the 100th anniversary of the first game in NHL history played between Ottawa and Montreal at the Dey’s Arena in Ottawa on Dec. 19, 1917. It also coincides with the 150th anniversary of Canada and the 125th birthday of the Stanley Cup.

Wednesday, Nov. 1: Penguins at Oilers

It’s a matchup of the NHL’s two best players in Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Pittsburgh’s Crosby. McDavid beat out Crosby for the 2017 Hart Trophy, probably the first of many he will win. McDavid hit the 100-point mark as a 20-year-old centerpiece of Edmonton's offense in 2016-17 and became the youngest Hart winner since Crosby in 2007. The rising Oilers are +1000 to win the 2018 Cup.

Monday, Jan. 1: Rangers at Sabres

New Year’s Day will be incredible this year because the two College Football Playoff semifinals, the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, are on the day. So are the Peach Bowl, Outback Bowl and Citrus Bowl. And, as usual, the NHL’s Winter Classic, this year held at the Mets’ Citi Field. Interesting that Buffalo is the home team, but it’s because the Rangers are contractually obligated to play all home games at Madison Square Garden. Buffalo hosted the first Winter Classic in 2008, losing to Pittsburgh in the snow at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Rangers visited Philadelphia in the 2012 Winter Classic.

Sunday, Jan. 28: All-Star Game

The Tampa Bay Lightning host this year’s All-Star Game, which again will be a 3-on-3 tournament format. It features three 20-minute games, with star players from each NHL division making up the four All-Star teams: Pacific, Central, Atlantic, and Metropolitan. The Lightning and Tampa previously hosted the NHL All-Star Game in 1999. In recent Winter Olympic years, as 2018 is, the NHL wouldn’t hold an All-Star Game, but the league isn’t going to South Korea next February. Some players might leave their teams, though. Caps star Alex Ovechkin has said he’s going to the Games.

Saturday, Feb. 17: Capitals at Blackhawks

This could be a Stanley Cup preview – Washington and Chicago were the two NHL betting favorites entering the 2017 playoffs. The Hawks were surprisingly swept in the first round by Nashville, and the Caps were ousted in seven games in the East semifinals by Pittsburgh. Washington is +1000 to win the 2018 Cup and Chicago +1400.

Saturday, March 3: Maple Leafs at Capitals

It’s a Stadium Series game at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md. Toronto and Washington played a fantastic first round series in the 2017 playoffs. The Caps won in six games but they were all decided by one goal, including five that required overtime. The Capitals and the Maple Leafs have played each other 141 times during the regular season, and the Capitals have a record of 71-54-16. Washington has played in two outdoor games since 2011, winning both. The most recent was the 2015 Winter Classic at Nationals Park, when Washington hosted the Blackhawks.

Saturday, April 7: Every team in action

Will playoff berths be on the line on the final day of the regular season? That’s usually the case.  Interesting matchups include Senators at Bruins, Canadiens at Maple Leafs, Islanders at Red Wings, Blue Jackets at Predators, Stars at Kings and Wild at Sharks.

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