The compacted 2013 NHL schedule will test the Detroit Red Wings early and often, pitting them against Central Division foes on an almost weekly basis. The Wings travel to face the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 19 for the season opener, and will host the Dallas Stars Jan. 22 in their home opener.
Nearly half of the Wings’ games will be nationally televised, either on NBC, NBC Sports Network or the NHL Network. The month of January features six games, three against division opponents. Fortunately for the team, the first of many back-to-back games doesn’t come until early February. The second month of the year will be the busiest month of the season for Detroit, with 15 games on tap. They face the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings twice in February and will travel to California once to face the Kings and the San Jose Sharks. The team’s fresh rivalry with the Blues will have a chance to reach a boil as they square off three times in the first two weeks of February.
Two road trips will test the Wings in March: a three-games-in-four-nights stretch against the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks (Mar. 13-16) and a four-game set featuring two games against the Anaheim Ducks and a visit to face the Phoenix Coyotes and then the Sharks (Mar. 22-28). Back-to-back home contests against the Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche will take the team into April, a month that features eight of the team’s nationally televised games. Four of the team’s last five opponents are playoff teams from last season, so the Wings will need to be especially strong down the stretch. The trade deadline is April 3.
Unlike previous seasons that saw the Red Wings benefit from strong play against Eastern Conference opponents, this season’s schedule will put them up against top Western Conference opponents on a regular basis. A compacted schedule will often feature multiple games in the span of a few nights, making player health vital to Detroit’s success.