When Will Hockey Start? [Expert Guide!]

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It is that time of the year again. The days are getting shorter, it is getting colder, and the wind is howling outside your door. You know what that means: it’s hockey season!

For the uninitiated, hockey is a team sport that’s all the rage in North America. Played on ice, the object is to beat the other team and score as many goals as you can. If you’re looking for a good time during the winter months, you could do a lot worse than to tune in one of the many hockey games that broadcast every day during the season. But when is hockey season exactly? Is it October through April, or is there more to it? Let’s take a look.

What Is Hockey Season?

Hockey season is usually considered to be between October and April, but that’s not quite true. The official hockey season in Canada starts in September and runs through the end of April, with the Stanley Cup playoffs in the middle of the month. In the United States, the regular season starts in October and ends in April too, but the playoff dates vary by location. The World Hockey League (WHL) is another option, as the regular season there runs from October through April and there are no byes in between games.

The European leagues also have a longer season, with the Russian Super League (RSL) and the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) going through most of January and February. But on the other hand, the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in Russia only has a few games a week throughout the whole season.

So when is the best time to go and see a hockey game? Well, that depends. If you’re in Canada, you might want to consider going during the month of October, as that’s when the NHL season starts. But if you’re in the US, you might want to go during the month of February, as that’s when the Stanley Cup playoffs start. In Europe, if you want to catch the best of the best, you’ll want to go during the RSL or the SHL seasons.

When Do The Games Begin?

So when is a good time to go and see a hockey game? Well, that depends on where you are and what team you’re following. But let’s take a quick look at the 2017-18 schedule, shall we?

The 2017-18 season will begin on October 4th, with the NHL season starting on Friday Nights. In case you’re wondering, the Caps won the league’s inaugural game 7-2 over the Islanders. It will be interesting to see how this team does this year after missing the playoffs last year by one point. The full NHL schedule can be found here.

The bulk of the regular season will take place from October through April, with the playoffs beginning in the middle of the month. There are a number of big games on the horizon, including several classic rivalry matchups. Here’s a look at some of the games that will be of interest to hardcore hockey fans.

NHL 87-88 Season Begins

For those who’ve been waiting patiently for this day, the 2017-18 NHL season will begin on Friday, October 4th. The schedule for this season was officially released on June 14th, with the regular season ending on April 13th, 2018. This will be the first time in twenty years that the NHL has completed a season with only 87 games, so fans of the league should be excited about that. Additionally, this will also be the first time in four years that the Atlanta Thrashers haven’t played a game, as the team relocated to Winnipeg at the end of the 2016-17 season. But let’s take a quick look at the highlights and lowlights of the upcoming season, shall we?

Highlights

There are a number of highlights for the upcoming season, including several big rivalry matchups. The Caps will host the Islanders in the season opener on October 4th, with the teams having split their meetings in the past. Additionally, the Capitals will travel to play the Islanders again during the last week of the season, on April 11th and 12th. The rivalry between these two teams is one of the most storied in all of sports, going back to their formation in the early 1980s. The other big rivalry this season will be the Boston Bruins versus the Philadelphia Flyers. The teams have played a total of 16 playoff matchups, with the Flyers winning the last five. There will also be a handful of inter-conference games, as the Caps will play in several games against other teams from the Eastern Conference. And, of course, there’s the Winter Classic, as the league’s annual outdoor game will be played on January 1st, 2018, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

Lowlights

On the other hand, there are some major lows for the upcoming season. The biggest one is that the 2017-18 schedule was released with no byes in between games. This could potentially cause significant problems for some teams, as there are several games at the end of the season that could potentially be made by the 24th game. That being said, there are no byes in the Eastern Conference, so none of these teams will have the advantage of a bye. Additionally, there is no makeup date in case of a snowstorm or other unforeseen circumstance. This means that if there is bad weather, the game could be delayed or even cancelled. Thankfully, none of the games were cancelled because of weather, but the NHL does have a bit of a history of postponements and tiebreakers thanks to this no-bye policy. This was one of the major points of contention between the players and the league after the 2016-17 season.

Another major low point is that the NHL will not be expanding its horizons this year, as revealed in the league’s annual report. The NHL is considered to be one of the most prominent leagues in terms of viewership, so it’s no surprise that they’d want to continue expanding. The problem is that the salary cap has reached its limits, which is preventing the NHL from making further investments in players or team infrastructure. There will also be no byes this year in the first round of the playoffs, which will begin on April 11th. So without further ado, here’s a look at the full schedule for the 2017-18 NHL season:

NHL 87-88 Schedule

Friday, October 4th | Home Opener | Washington Capitals vs. New York Islander | 7:30 pm ET | NBCSN | WATCH ON NBCSN.COM

October 11th | Home Opener | New York Islanders vs. Washington Capitals | 7:30 pm ET | NBCSN | WATCH ON NBCSN.COM

October 18th | Home Opener | Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs | 7:00 pm ET | NBCSN | WATCH ON NBCSN.COM

October 25th | Home Opener | Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers | 7:00 pm ET | NBCSN | WATCH ON NBCSN.COM

November 2nd | Home Opener | New York Islanders vs. Washington Capitals | 7:00 pm ET | NBCSN | WATCH ON NBCSN.COM

November 9th | Home Opener | Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers | 7:00 pm ET | NBCSN | WATCH ON NBCSN.COM

November 16th | Home Opener | Philadelphia Flyers vs. New York Islanders | 7:00 pm ET | NBCSN | WATCH ON NBCSN.COM

November 23rd | Home Opener | Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs | 7:00 pm ET | NBCSN | WATCH ON NBCSN.COM

November 30th | Home Opener | Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues | 7:00 pm ET | NBCSN | WATCH ON NBCSN.COM

December 7th | Home Opener | Winnipeg Jets vs. Ottawa Senators | 7:00 pm ET | NBCSN | WATCH ON NBCSN.COM

December 14th | Home Opener | Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings | 7:00 pm ET | NBCSN | WATCH ON NBCSN.COM

December 21st | Home Opener | San Jose Sharks vs. Vegas Golden Knights | 6:00 pm ET | NBCSN | WATCH ON NBCSN.COM

December 28th | Home Opener | Nashville Predators vs. New York Islanders | 6:00 pm ET | NBCSN | WATCH ON NBCSN.COM

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