Get ready for images like this to start the season.
Here are the facts we already know:
- Each team will play two of their divisional rivals 5 times each (10 games)
- Each team will play the other two divisional rivals 4 times each (8 games)
- The remaining 30 games will be played against the other 10 teams in their conference (3 games/non-divisional conference team)
As it's already been well reported and highly speculated, the Penguins should start the season off with a home-and-home vs. the dreaded Flyers. Fitting, isn't it? And you have to think the league will make sure Pens vs. Flyers is a 5 games season series. If this comes true, the Penguins knock out two critical divisional games right off the bat.
I like this format, but I don't. It's nice to know there won't be any west coast swings. Staying up until 10 p.m. is miserable the next morning. At the same time, you have to think also this format isn't necessarily fair. Two teams get to play the Islanders 5 times, and it probably won't be the Penguins. That's an easy 8 points in the standings. So this leaves either the Penguins' other 5 game divisional season series with the Rangers or the Devils. Tough opponents increasing strength of schedule, but not making it any easier to win the Atlantic Division.
Be sure to expect tight races leading up to the very end of the season. Buckle up because it's going to be one hell of a season.