With a long off-season just getting underway (we're approximately 87 days away from training camps opening) and the looming threat of an impasse between the NHL and the NHL Players Association over collective bargaining issues... Well, the league taunts the fans, it mocks us... It makes us anxious for the day in where hockey comes back to life for reals.
Today, the National Hockey League released the 2012-13 schedules for all 30 of its franchises, including your Tampa Bay Lightning. The 1,230 game schedule for league gets underway on October 11th. The Lightning's own season will begin on Saturday, October 13th with a road game in Sunrise against the Florida Panthers. The home schedule for the Bolts begins three days later, on October 16th, against the New York Islanders.
The schedule for the Bolts features two 6-game home stands (one beginning in November and the 2nd taking place in March). The Bolts end the season at home on April 13th against the Washington Capitals.
The complete schedule can be found here.
One of the issues in the forthcoming Collective Bargaining sessions between the NHL and the PA focuses on realignment. That makes this schedule, perhaps, the last time the standard Eastern Conference / Western Conference alignment and schedule is used. It may be the last time you see the Lightning playing its Southeast Division brethren six times a season.
As was noted above, teh Bolts have two extended home stands. The first begins November 1st against Winnipeg. The oddity of this homestand is that it splits up the Bolts west-coast swings of the season. Before the November home stretch, the Lightning head to western Canada to face the Calgary Flames (October 25th) Edmonton Oilers (October 26th) and Vancouver Canucks. After the homestand? It's California dreamin' as Tampa Bay visits the Anaheim Ducks (November 16th) and Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings (November 17th) before returning to the East Coast and finishing their trip in Carolina against the Hurricanes (November 21st).
The schedule also includes 26 games played in back-to-back sets. 10 sets are on the road, whiel 3 will be home-and-away stretches.
For those who will undeoubtedly ask, the Detroit Red Wings mak their return to Tampa Bay on November 24th.
Individual game ticket sales will begin later in the summer. Right now, best way to ensure your seats for the 41 game home schedule is to get a season ticket.