The Toronto Maple Leafs, as well as every other NHL team, have announced their 2016-17 regular season schedules. Of course, this next season is of special importance to the Leafs as it is their 100th season. Lets take a look at some of the intricacies of it.
The Leafs will be at their busiest in November, February and March, playing 14 games in each. Their busiest day of the week is Saturday as they play 22 games, which is actually one less than they had on that night last season. Does the NHL have something against the traditional Hockey Night in Canada? The Leafs also have 18 sets of back-to-back games. Their longest homestand is five games from December 11 to 19. Their longest road trip stands at six games, lasting from January 25 to February 6.
Now for some individual games of particular note.
Wednesday, October 12 – @ Ottawa Senators
For the first time since the 2008-09 season, the Maple Leafs will not open up the season against the Montreal Canadiens. Instead, they face their provincial rival in the Ottawa Senators. Should be interesting considering that the Canadian Tire Center is basically a second home for the Leafs because a lot of Leafs fans make the trip to Ottawa.
This will, of course, be the regular season debut of Auston Matthews in a Maple Leafs uniform.
Saturday, October 15, 2016 – vs. Boston Bruins
Fans that don’t make the trip to Ottawa will get their first look at Matthews in their home opener. With the way the Bruins have been run in recent years, who knows what kind of opposition they will actually be facing.
Wednesday, October 29 – @ Winnipeg Jets
Last season, it took until March 1 for the first and second overall picks, Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, to play against each other. This season, barring any potential injuries, it will happen much sooner. With the Leafs selecting Matthews and the Jets presumably taking Patrik Laine, they can start finding out which one really is the best in the Leafs’ third game of the season.
Saturday, October 29 – @ Montreal Canadiens
In what is a later start to the Leafs-Habs rivalry than usual, the Leafs will get their first look at Carey Price for the first time since October 24, 2015. The Leafs will miss the time they had without having to face him.
Saturday, November 12 – @ Pittsburgh Penguins
The Leafs will face off against Phil Kessel and the defending Stanley Cup Champion. That should be fun to see.
Friday, December 23 – @ Arizona Coyotes
Matthews gets his first opportunity to play at home. Don’t be surprised if puts up a big game in front of family and friends.
Sunday, January 1 – vs. Detroit Red Wings – @ BMO Field
The Maple Leafs will host their first outdoor game against the Detroit Red Wings in a rematch of the 2014 NHL Winter Classic. This time, they will play in what the NHL Centennial Classic. This will celebrate not only the Leafs’ centennial but also the NHL’s centennial as well. Can the Leafs remain unbeaten in outdoor games?
Sunday, April 9 – vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Leaf’ final game of the season. Will it be the end of another hard season to watch?
Of course, as the Leafs make moves in the offseason, more games could become of note as they might face off against former Leafs. Will the Leafs be facing off against Tyler Bozak or Joffrey Lupul? Maybe Jonathan Bernier? Who knows at this point, but things are sure to get interesting.