The Bear Cave

July 17, 2009 7:24 AM

2009-10 Bruins' Schedule has Capital Bookends

It was clear that the excitement around Boston on Wednesday was focused solely toward the big announcement that the 2010 NHL Winter Classic would be played at Fenway Park. While that one game will certainly lead the way in terms of attention, there are still 81 other games on the schedule, and all 82 are worth the same amount of points when it comes to the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Shortly after the confirmation of the Winter Classic, Bruins' fans found out about their 2009-10 regular season schedule.

Before getting into the meat and potatoes of the schedule, let's first go over the format. The length of the schedule remains at 82 games, with 41 at home and 41 on the road. For the second year in a row, teams will play divisional opponents six times each, with three of those tilts taking place on home ice. For the Bruins, that covers Buffalo, Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto. The remaining ten teams in the Eastern Conference will visit New England twice each, with Boston also taking two trips to those same cities. For the second consecutive season, the B's will play all 15 teams from the Western Conference, with three clubs playing at both rinks, six teams playing only in Boston, and the other six opponents getting a chance to host the Bruins. The three teams that fans will see twice are the Anaheim Ducks, the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Los Angeles Kings. The six teams visiting Causeway Street are: Calgary, Colorado, Columbus, Edmonton, Nashville, and Vancouver. The six teams that fans will have to wait at least one more year to see at home are: Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Phoenix, St. Louis, and San Jose.

For the first time since 2005-06, the Boston Bruins will get to start the season at the TD Garden. In case you missed it, yes, the name of the building has changed since the last time a game was played there, dropping "Banknorth" from the title. October 1st is the magical night for the season opener, as the Bruins will drop the puck against the Washington Capitals. Boston and Washington should create quite the buzz, as the two clubs finished first and second in the Eastern Conference this past spring.

Fans in Boston will get to know their team very quickly this season, as the first five games will all be played on home ice. Revenge will be on the minds of most fans in game two, as the Carolina Hurricanes won't waste any time making their first trip back to New England. The third game of the season sees the Bruins host the Anaheim Ducks, before the first visit to Boston for top draft pick John Tavares and the New York Islanders. The five-game homestand concludes with a Columbus Day matinee against the Colorado Avalanche.

The Bruins' first road trip of the season takes place at the end of that week, as the team will enjoy some hot weather, battling the Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes on consecutive nights. That will be followed by another set of back-to-back games on the 21st and 22nd, when Boston hosts Nashville, before traveling to Philadelphia. Ottawa will be the last road game of the month, before two straight home contests against the New Jersey Devils and Edmonton Oilers.

November will be a relatively routine month for the Black and Gold, featuring an even split of seven home games and seven road games. After starting the month with games in Manhattan (Rangers) and Detroit, the team will return to the Garden for a four-game homestand. The first battle of that homestand will be the first visit of the season by the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal will be followed by Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Florida. A road game in Pittsburgh and a home game with the New York Islanders appear next on the schedule, leading up to four straight games away from home. This trip will be an interesting one, as the Bruins will go from Atlanta to Buffalo on consecutive nights, before finishing with tilts in St. Louis and St. Paul (Wild). Home games with New Jersey and Ottawa finish month number two, with the game against the Devils serving as the traditional 12:00 start on Black Friday.

The third month of the season will have a similar read to it, as December has 13 games. Six of those will be on home ice, with the other seven taking place in enemy territory. The Tampa Bay Lightning conclude Boston's three-game homestand from November, leading the Bruins into one exciting weekend of hockey. On December 4th, the team takes a short trip to Montreal, before a Saturday night return home against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Five days later, the Leafs return the the TD Garden, which could begin to create some animosity between the clubs. After that, the Bruins visit the New York Islanders, before hosting the Philadelphia Flyers in a preview of the Winter Classic. Trips to Chicago, Toronto, and Ottawa lead up to a final home game before the holidays, as the Atlanta Thrashers make their first of two visits in a seven-day span. Before the Thrashers come back on the 30th, Boston will tackle the Sunshine State, taking on the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

The highlight of January should be obvious by now, as the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers take the ice at Fenway Park on New Year's Day. That will be the first of seven home contests in the fourth month of the year, while seven other games will take place in various other spots around the continent. Following Fenway, the Bruins will play two games in two nights in Manhattan (Rangers) and Ottawa, before returning to their indoor facility at home to battle the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers. The swing through California comes next, as Boston will visit Anaheim, San Jose, and Los Angeles in a matter of four days. Travel won't be too much fun at that point, as the club will play a 4:00 game against the Kings on January 16th, before turning around for a 1:00 home game against the Ottawa Senators on the 18th. Ottawa will return to Causeway Street five days later, but first, the Columbus Blue Jackets must make a midweek visit. Road games in Raleigh (Hurricanes) and Buffalo lead up to the closing of January at home against the Los Angeles Kings.

February will be a short month in terms of time, as the NHL will take two weeks off for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Don't tell the teams that, as the Bruins will have the privilege of playing seven games in twelve days before the break. The month starts at home, with three games against teams with nicknames beginning with "C" - the Capitals, Canadiens, and Canucks. Boston will then conclude that portion of the schedule with four straight contests on the road in Montreal, Buffalo, Tampa Bay, and Sunrise (Panthers).

The race to the finish will show the fans exactly what type of team they have in Boston this season, as the B's will take the ice 16 times during the month of March. Seven of those tilts will be at the Garden, with the other nine taking place on enemy ice. The interesting part about month number six is that 15 of those games will be against Eastern Conference opponents. The Canadiens and Maple Leafs will give the home crowd some excitement early, before the Bruins head on the road for an incredible seven-game venture up and down the coast. The journey will consist of games in Uniondale (Islanders), Pittsburgh, Toronto, Philadelphia, Montreal, Newark (Devils), and Raleigh (Hurricanes). Despite returning home, the schedule remains challenging with contests against the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers. A quick visit to Atlanta preludes a three-game homestand against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Calgary Flames, and Buffalo Sabres. March concludes on the 30th with a road game against the New Jersey Devils.

Finally, the regular season schedule winds down to April. However, winding down might not be the correct term, as the Bruins will be faced with six games in a span of eleven days. The last month of the regular year begins with a visit from the Florida Panthers, before a pair of road games in Toronto and Washington. Boston will finish off the home portion of their schedule on the 8th and 10th against the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes, before ending the year in the opposite way that they started it - on the road against the Washington Capitals.

So, there they are - all 82 games. Right now, it looks like one gigantic list. However, in the next year, this list will tell us just how good the 2009-10 version of the Boston Bruins will be. Let the countdown begin! 76 days until the puck drops on October 1st between the Bruins and Capitals!

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