By Mike Harrington
The NHL may announce the format for the shortened 2013 season today. Here's a recap of what I've been throwing around on Twitter from what folks are hearing:
1). All play will be within your conference. For the Sabres, no games against the West this year.
2). A 48-game season would likely open Jan. 19. It would consist of seven games against the other four teams in the Northeast Division (Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa) in a 4-3 split to be determined and two (one home, one away) against the other 10 teams in the East.
3). A 50-game season would likely open Jan. 15. It would likely consist of five games against the other four teams in the Northeast in a 3-2 split to be determined and three against the other 10 teams in the East in a 2-1 split.
Many of the same dates teams currently have for their arenas will likely hold. The Sabres are currently scheduled to play Jan. 15 at Ottawa and that would likely hold as the season opener in a 50-game slate. There are home games scheduled for Jan. 17 (Islanders) and Jan. 19 (Carolina), with the latter likely holding as a season opener in the 48-game slate but the Hurricanes expected to be replaced by a Northeast foe.
The season currently runs to April 13 with only 40 games. A couple will need to be inserted and it will likely take at least another 7-10 days to get to 48. Figure a completion in the first week of May.