A Thursday, November 7 showdown with former team captain Rick Nash, now of the New York Rangers, highlights the 2013-2014 Columbus Blue Jackets schedule released Friday.
Columbus, now a member of the Eastern Conference, opens the 2013-2014 NHL season at home against the Calgary Flames on Friday, October 4. They close the 2013-2014 season April 12 at Florida.
The top three teams in each division will make the playoffs, plus the next two highest point totals in the conference will make it as “wild cards.”
Columbus is in the newly named Metropolitan Division with Carolina, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington.
The other division names are Pacific and Central in the Western Conference and Atlantic in the Eastern Conference. The NHL website has the list of division names and a list of outdoor games.
In my opinion, one of the huge early season stretches occurs between October 20 and November 9, where the team plays eight of nine games at Nationwide Arena.
They then follow with another huge stretch, playing seven of eight away from home from November 12 through November 25.
With 10 of the first 16 games at Nationwide, a fast start will be critically important. The team cannot afford a slow start like last season facing seven of eight away from home in the middle of November.
The finish of the season is much more favorable to the Jackets this year. They finish the season with six of 10 at home. The four away games are Carolina, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and Florida. Who knows how many of those teams will be in the playoff hunt?
We will be breaking down the schedule more in the coming days. Overall, it is a much more friendly schedule for the simple fact that most of Columbus’ games will be in the eastern time zone, which will help keep the team fresh even on long road trips.
I think if Columbus has a solid first month of the season, a return trip to the playoffs is a good bet in 2013-2014.