The 2017-18 National Hockey League campaign will mark season No. 35 for the New Jersey Devils. For the fifth consecutive season, the Devils will call the Metropolitan Division home. Their 40 losses and 70 points last season were the worst since registering 41 defeats and 66 points during the 1988-89 campaign.
This season the Devils will hope to have less turbulence as they navigate their regular-season schedule. Here’s a list of which games the Garden State faithful should look for and look forward to.
Oct. 7 vs. Colorado Avalanche
The home opener at Prudential Center, now a 2:00 p.m. start, will feature plenty of intrigues. Should he make the roster, forward Nico Hischier will make his much-anticipated home and NHL debut after being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.
Another storyline of interest will center around another former Devils’ draft choice, former Harvard University captain Alexander Kerfoot. The 2012 fifth-round selection did not sign with the Devils and instead, the college free agent inked a two-year deal with the Avalanche.
This game should also mark the Devil debuts of Brian Boyle and Marcus Johansson.
Dec. 21 vs. New York Rangers
After playing with the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals, Devils fans hoped defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk would follow in the footsteps of franchise legend Scott Stevens. While general manager Ray Shero and the organization were all but ready to go all-out in signing the New Rochelle, NY native, his heart was set on Broadway. Hence, Devils fans will likely voice their displeasure with Shattenkirk as he arrives with the Rangers, following his four-year, $26.6 million dollar contract signing.
Jan. 13 vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Nico vs. Nolan. An additional layer will be added to the Turnpike rivalry. Up until the waning days of the NHL Entry Draft, many thought perhaps Nolan Patrick would be joining his former Brandon Wheat Kings teammate John Quenneville as the No. 1 selection of the Devils. Instead, Patrick, the No.2 pick, will suit up with the Flyers, assuming he’s healthy and makes the roster.
Jan. 25 vs. Nashville Predators
In what should be a measuring-stick game, the Devils play host to the Western Conference champion Predators.
Feb. 3 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Speaking of measuring sticks, the Devils will face their divisional foe and the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins.
Feb. 24 vs. New York Islanders
I know what you’re thinking, the return of Seth Helgeson, Stephen Gionta, and Chris Terreri, right? A divisional and regional rivalry? Sure. Moreover, this game is most significant because of what will happen before the puck is dropped. The Devils will host Patrik Elias Retirement Night and No. 26 will be raised to the rafters along with Stevens, Martin Brodeur, Ken Daneyko, and Scott Niedermayer. Elias, who totaled 86 points in 91 career games against the Islanders, holds essentially every important Devils offensive record, winning a pair of Stanley Cup titles during his 20-year career.
March 4 vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Former Devils defenseman Jon Merrill and the expansion Golden Knights will make their first appearance in New Jersey. The Devils will make their first trip to Las Vegas on March 14.
The Devils will play 11 of their 41 home contests on the weekend.
New Jersey’s longest homestand is a six-game stretch from Dec. 15 to Dec. 29. New Jersey’s longest road trip will also extend six games, from March 14 to March 23.
While we won’t know how the roster will shape up until camp breaks in Newark, the Devils’ schedule should make for an intriguing season.