BUFFALO – After the Sabres open their season Oct. 13 at home against the Montreal Canadiens, they start a four-game road trip – longer than any swing they had last season – three days later against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.
That’s just one notable stretch of the 82-game 2016-17 schedule the NHL released this afternoon.
The Sabres, who went 19-17-5 on the road last season, better get comfortable playing away from the First Niagara Center early, as eight of their first 12 games are away. Their longest road trips in 2015-16 lasted three games.
Some other highlights:
– The Sabres have six afternoon home games, down from 10 last season.
– Twenty of their 41 home contests are either on a Thursday (11) or Saturday (9).
– They have two four-game home stands: Nov. 16 to 23 and Dec. 6 to 16.
– The have also have four-game road trips in January and March. After Edmonton, they visit the Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers during their October trip, logging 5,015 miles, according to the team.
– Auston Matthews, the presumptive No. 1 overall pick in Friday’s NHL Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, would visit Buffalo as an opponent for the first time Nov. 3.
– McDavid, the 2015 No. 1 pick, and the Oilers visit Dec. 6. Sabres center Jack Eichel faced McDavid, who he was picked after, once last season.
– Sidney Crosby and the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins visit Nov. 19 and March 21. The Sabres play March 5 in Pittsburgh.
– The Sabres visit Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals in a 5 p.m. start Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving.
– The Winnipeg Jets visit Jan. 7. Former Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers, who was hurt when the Jets played here last season, has never faced his former team in Buffalo.
– South Buffalo native Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks visit Feb. 19. The Sabres play Jan. 5 in Chicago.
– The Sabres will play a 1 p.m. road game Dec. 31 against the Boston Bruins, Eichel’s hometown team.
– The Sabres have a “bye week,” a new wrinkle this season, from Feb. 20 to 24.
– They have 19 sets of back-to-back games, four more than last season.
– The Sabres, who finish a two-game Florida swing and the regular season April 9 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, close with 10 straight games against Eastern Conference opponents. The final four contests are against Atlantic Division rivals.