Pittsburgh Penguins fans, start your countdown — there’s just 113 days until the Penguins open the 2016-17 season at home against the Washington Capitals on Oct. 13. The Stanley Cup champions will raise the championship banner for just the fourth time in team history at Consol Energy Center before the game’s start. The Penguins, who were founded in 1967, will be celebrating their 50th season.
The full schedule was released Tuesday, and it looks like it could be a very good season for the defending champions. They’ll play their first three games at home, and six of the nine games the Penguins play in October will be on home ice. The Penguins’ longest homestand is three games, which will happen six different times during the season. The team will spend the most time away from home ice in March, with a five-game trip to play the Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Philadelphia Flyers.
Pittsburgh will play 30 games against its Metropolitan Division foes, 24 games against teams in the Athletic Division and 28 games against Western Conference teams (two games each). In the Metropolitan Division, the Penguins will play the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers four times and the other five teams in the division four times.
The game to circle on the calendar will be on Feb. 25, when the Penguins host the Flyers at Heinz Field as part of the NHL Stadium Series — the fourth time Pittsburgh has played in an outdoor game.
The Penguins will also see teams they beat in the 2016 playoffs, with a rematch of the Stanley Cup Finals on Oct. 20 when the Penguins welcome the San Jose Sharks to Consol Energy Center. The Penguins will then travel to the SAP Center for a Nov. 5 game — the first time the Penguins will be back in San Jose since their Game 6 win.
On Dec. 10, Pittsburgh will face the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena for the first time since the two teams met in a very close and intense seven-game Eastern Conference Finals. The Penguins will host the Lightning on Jan. 18, 2017.
Sharp-eyed fans may have noticed the season is starting later than it typically does, with the puck dropping for the first time on Oct. 12. That’s because of the World Cup of Hockey, which runs from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1. As a result, the NHL schedule is more compressed.
The season will also feature five-day bye weeks — no games, no practices — for the first time in NHL history after negotiation with the NHL Players’ Association. (In return, the players agreed to the three-on-three format for the All-Star Game.) The Penguins’ bye week is from Jan. 1-7, 2017.
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