The Sabres released their entire NHL schedule today with the team opening the season at home against division rivals Montreal on October 13th and finishing the season on the road in Tampa Bay on April 9th.
Here are some early schedule observations:
- After opening at home the Sabres have a four game round trip hitting Edmonton and McDavid, Calgary, Vancouver, then followed by a trip to Philadelphia
- The Sabres host the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday November 19th and the Western Conference Champion Sharks on Tuesday February 7th
- The Sabres host Toronto and Matthews three separate times this year. Nov 3rd, March 25th, and April 3rd.
- The Sabres only have four Friday night home games this year, preferring Saturday home games with nine in total
- Continuing in last year’s footsteps, the Sabres have six afternoon games this year
- The longest road trip Buffalo has is four games long which occurs three times in the year. One in October, one in January and one in March which has the second portion of Buffalo west coast visit with San Jose, Los Angeles and Anahiem as three of the four opponents
- The Sabres have two four game home stands with the first in late November and the second in mid-December
- The Sabres finish with four straight division games home against Toronto, Montreal, and at Florida and Tampa Bay which could very well decide if they make the playoffs or not given the current NHL
Top 5 Home Games
- Thursday November 3rd vs. Toronto– Eichel vs Matthews round 1. This is the first matchup in what is expected to be the start of a very long rivalry between these two. If Stamkos signs with either team, expect the expectations for that side to be even higher and the opposing fans to be even louder about Stamkos not signing there. This may be the most anticipated Sabres game since the days of Drury & Briere when they faced off against Carolina to open the 2006-07 season.
- Saturday November 19th vs. Pittsburgh– In terms of true measuring sticks this game is as big as it gets for an up-and-coming team like Buffalo who is being molded quite similarly to the Penguins. This will be a nice early season test for the team. Plus Buffalo fans hate Crosby and would love to get a win against him.
- Sunday February 19th vs. Chicago– Last year this home game turned very intense at the end with the Sabres getting two consecutive questionable penalties late in the game that allowed Patrick Kane to tie and later win the game in a shootout. By this point we will know what the Sabres are and the former Cup champs will be a good barometer if this is a playoff team or not.
- Tuesday December 6th vs. Edmonton- This is the second time the Sabres host McDavid who sent Sabre fans home bitter in last season’s home matchup scoring two goals, including the winner in overtime. Buffalo is expected to be close to a playoff team this year and perhaps this is finally the year Edmonton’s young guns break through. Either way this game will feature the games’ brightest two young stars and should be a very entertaining.
- Friday December 3rd vs. Boston- It was only five years ago that Milan Lucic took out Ryan Miller and effectively started the Sabres rebuild in retrospect. The Sabres are finally rising at a point when Boston seems to be trending downwards. That would be karma if the Sabres throttled Boston at home to send a message who the new division power is.