The full 2014-15 NHL season schedule was announced Sunday, June 22. The San Jose Sharks will begin the regular season Oct. 8 where they will end it April 11—visiting the Pacific Division rival Los Angeles Kings.
Those will be the only two games in Los Angeles all season—the first of the pictured schedule dates to circle already. San Jose will host the team that came back from a 3-0 deficit to win the second Stanley Cup in the last two full seasons on January 21 and February 21, as well as the last home game of the preseason—the only exhibition between the rivals.
That might be fine for the Sharks, dealt so much heartache by the Kings. However, the rivalry has been even in the regular season.
With four Pacific Division titles in the last seven seasons, everyone knows San Jose's problems do not come until the Stanley Cup playoffs. By contrast, Los Angeles often muddles through the regular season but has now taken two series in a row from its northern rival en route to a 41-24 record over the last three postseasons.
There are also 11 sets of back-to-back games in the 2014-15 NHL season—fewer than normal. On three of those sets, the first game is at home. The other 19 games that are part of those sets are played on the road, and that imbalance is noteworthy.
The Sharks also basically start the 2014-15 NHL season on an eight-game road trip. Saturday, Oct. 11 may be the home opener against the Winnipeg Jets, but it amounts to second arena played in before a five-game road trip through the Eastern Conference.
San Jose also has a seven-game road trip from Nov. 8 through 18 that starts in the Central Division before moving again to the Eastern Conference for five games. Those two road trips give the team 16 of its first 21 games on the road, including 10 three time zones away.
That time on the road should help a team that may have a significantly different makeup gel. Being so far away from home early in the 2014-15 NHL season could also be hard on a team general manager Doug Wilson wants to hand over to younger players.
If the Sharks survive the first quarter of the season, they can rest up a bit during the six home games that follow through Dec. 4. After back-to-back games at the Pacific Division rival Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, the Sharks return home for five more games to almost balance out the schedule.
There is one more long home stand (seven games) from Jan. 15 to Feb. 2. A stretch of eight of nine in San Jose from Feb. 21 to March 14 is immediately followed by another seven-game road trip from March 17 through 29 that has the final six road games against the Eastern Conference.
The longer home stands and road trips should help alleviate the team's league-high travel miles on the 2013-14 NHL season. The last five games are all against current or former Pacific Division rivals—home and away against the Phoenix Coyotes, home against the Dallas Stars then at the Oilers and Kings.
Eight games are to be featured on Hockey Night in Canada. Finally, chief operating office John Tortora told David Pollack of the San Jose Mercury News Friday that the Sharks are still awaiting word on an outdoor game:
If we do get awarded a game, that announcement will probably come sometime in July. There will not be a switch in the team or the date of a game on the schedule, just that one game becomes a home game outdoors.
It is still unknown whether that game would take place at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara or AT&T Park in San Francisco. The date for any such game is also unknown, but would certainly be after the Winter Classic on New Year's Day. If the Bay Area does host the game, perhaps the number of good features of the 2014-15 NHL season schedule will outweigh the bad.