NHL 2023-24 schedule release: Opening night, can't-miss games

ByGreg Wyshynski ESPN logo
Tuesday, June 27, 2023

The NHL's 2023-24 schedule has dropped, and fans around the league are already planning their homestands and road trips. Here are some of things that stand out in the newly released schedule, from the must-watch games to the trends that matter.

All times are ET and subject to change.

Opening Night tripleheader

The 2023-24 season opens on Tuesday, Oct. 10, with a tripleheader on ESPN that includes two landmark moments for the NHL.

The fun starts at 5:30 p.m. with the new-look Nashville Predators visiting the Tampa Bay Lightning. The second game will feature No. 1 pick Connor Bedard's first game with the Chicago Blackhawks -- assuming they draft him with the first pick in the draft -- as they travel to play a previous "generational talent" drafted first overall,Sidney Crosby, and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Then comes the celebration: The Vegas Golden Knights hoist their first Stanley Cup banner at home against the visiting Seattle Kraken at 10:30 p.m. The mind boggles at what kind of extravaganza the Knights will cook up for this moment with a few months of lead time.

16 games, 32 teams, every 15 minutes

Start popping your popcorn for Tuesday, Oct. 24. The NHL is going all-in with 16 games featuring all 32 teams. But the real novelty here is something hockey fans are always asking for on high-volume game nights: staggered start times.

The night starts with the Toronto Maple Leafs' visit to the Washington Capitals at 6 p.m., followed by the Anaheim Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets at 6:30. After puck drop in Columbus, a new game will start every 15 minutes until 9:15 p.m., and then there are three additional games after that. It should make for an unprecedented night of viewing, with a bit of a March Madness vibe.

Here are the matchups:

Taking things outdoors

The 2024 Winter Classic on Jan. 1 will feature the Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights visiting the Seattle Kraken at T-Mobile Park, home of the Seattle Mariners. Those teams have New Year's Day all to themselves as the only game on the schedule. It's set for 3 p.m.

The NHL Stadium Series comes to MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Feb. 17 and 18, featuring games between regional rivals. The Philadelphia Flyers face the host New Jersey Devils at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 17. The New York Rangers face the host New York Islanders at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18. It should be a raucous couple of days in East Rutherford with these opposing fan bases converging for outdoor games.

After-turkey fun

The NHL continues its post-Thanksgiving (in America) tradition with 15 games on Friday, Nov. 24, starting with the Detroit Red Wings at the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers visiting the Philadelphia Flyers at 1 p.m., rolling all the way through the Vancouver Canucks at the Seattle Kraken at 10 p.m.

NHL Global Series

Fun fact: Of the 38 NHL regular-season games played outside of North America, 32 have been played in Europe and 12 of have been played in Stockholm, Sweden.

The tradition continues with the 2023 NHL Global Series at Avicii Arena in Stockholm, aka the "largest spherical building on Earth." The Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs play a four-day, four-game set of regular-season contests.

The Red Wings will play the Senators on Thursday, Nov. 16 and then face the Maple Leafs on Friday, Nov. 17. The Wild play the Senators on Saturday, Nov. 18, and then the Maple Leafs on Sunday, Nov. 19.

The games you can't miss

Oct. 30: Florida at Boston, 7 p.m.

The first meeting between the Panthers and Bruins since Florida's shocking first-round upset of the best regular-season team in NHL history.

Nov. 18: New York Rangers at New Jersey, 7 p.m.

The two local rivals meet for the first time since the Devils' first-round defeat of the Blueshirts in the Stanley Cup playoffs -- a loss that led the Rangers to fire coach Gerard Gallant and hire Peter Laviolette.

Nov. 25: Toronto at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.

The first meeting between the Maple Leafs and their former GM Kyle Dubas' Penguins.

Dec. 12: Chicago at Edmonton, 10 p.m.

The potential first-ever meeting between the Connors: The Blackhawks' Bedard vs. the Oilers' McDavid.

Dec. 23: Vegas at Florida, 3 p.m.

A rematch of the Stanley Cup Final between the Golden Knights and the Panthers. Hopefully Matthew Tkachuk is healthier for this one.

Oct. 29: Calgary at Edmonton, 7 p.m.

Jan. 20: Edmonton at Calgary, 10 p.m.

Feb. 24: Calgary at Edmonton, 10 p.m.

April 6: Edmonton at Calgary, 10 p.m.

No matter what the teams' current fortunes look like, the Battle of Alberta remains one of the NHL's must-see rivalries.

Oct. 13: Pittsburgh at Washington, 7 p.m.

Jan. 2: Washington at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.

March 7: Washington at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.

April 4: Pittsburgh at Washington, 7 p.m.

We have a scant few years left of being able to watch Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin battle for their respective teams in this decades-old rivalry. Ovechkin begins the season with 822 career goals, the second most in NHL history and only 72 behind Wayne Gretzky's record.

Related Video