It is amazing to say that the NHL is finally returning to the regularity of its schedule for the 2021-22 season. After the season was cut short in 2019-20, the entire playoffs were played in a bubble. And then the league was forced to battle through a 56-game condensed schedule in 2020-21, so this is a huge step for the league’s return to normalcy. Each team will play 82 games split evenly home and away, a minimum of two games against every opponent in the league, and will travel more as the two, three, or even four-game sets from last season have mostly disappeared.
This season will also contain more two-day breaks, along with a three-week break in February for the NHL All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The NHL has not yet reached an agreement allowing NHL players to participate in the Olympics, so if they do not, the schedule will be updated to remove that large gap. For the Dallas Stars, all of these changes are a welcomed sight. Last season, they faced the toughest, most condensed schedule in the NHL and felt the effects as injuries and fatigue pushed them out of playoff contention. This season should allow them to stay healthier and maintain their energy on a nightly basis. Here is a deeper dive into the Stars’ 2021-22 schedule.
Oct. 14 @ New York Rangers
Oct. 22 vs Los Angeles Kings
First Matchup with the Kraken
Jan. 12 vs Seattle Kraken
First Game in Seattle
April 3 @ Seattle Kraken
Winter Olympics Break
April 29 vs Anaheim Ducks
The first thing that comes to mind when looking at the schedule is the return of rest days. After the packed schedule that Dallas faced last season, these breaks will allow them to rest, recover, and even practice, all rarities during the 56 games in 2020-21. The season will begin with the Stars on a four-game road trip to face the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, and Pittsburgh Penguins. The home opener will follow on Oct. 22, with the Los Angeles Kings coming to American Airlines Center. Dallas will not face any road trips longer than four games all season, while the New York Islanders begin the season on a 13-game trek. However, they also will not have any home stands longer than four games.
Along with the return of the 82-game schedule comes the divisions we are accustomed to. The only change this year is that the Arizona Coyotes will move into the Central Division, allowing the Seattle Kraken to take their spot in the Pacific Division. The Central will now feature the Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, and Winnipeg Jets. With this change, the Stars will play each divisional opponent a bit less. They will play 26 divisional games and face each opponent at least three times (minimum one home and away).
They will also once again face each team across the league at least twice (home & away), so fans will be able to see the superstars and rinks all across the league. Dallas will be one of the last teams to travel to Climate Pledge Arena and face the Seattle Kraken in their home rink, with that game coming on April 3. However, they will face off with the Kraken three times total throughout the season.
When looking at the month of April, Stars fans may have nightmare flashbacks of last season. Dallas will play 16 games in the final 28 days of the season, including three straight weeks with four games. This is what hurt them last season, as they faced four games in six nights nearly every week. However, the month does feature 10 home games, including the last four games of the season. That alone should feel like a weight off their shoulders after they were forced to finish last season with seven straight games on the road.
This is a big year for the Dallas Stars, with the return of many key players from injury, multiple big contracts expiring next summer, and plenty of talent and potential. The schedule should offer the chance to perform at their highest level, so it will be exciting to see what this team can do. Hopefully, they can do it all in a sold-out arena after all the league has been through the past two seasons.
Sam Nestler is a Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the NHL and NCAA. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!