NHL schedules: Rangers open home-heavy, Islanders close Coliseum vs. Blue Jackets

New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault reacts

New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault reacts against the Los Angeles Kings in the third period of Game 3 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final at Madison Square Garden on Monday, June 9, 2014. (Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

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In a dramatic change from the past three years, when construction at Madison Square Garden was continued in October, the Rangers will play 14 of their first 21 games at home in the 2014-15 NHL season.

The Islanders, who are moving from Nassau Coliseum to Brooklyn in 2015, are scheduled to play their last regular-season home game in the 43-year-old building against the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 11, the final game of the season. The last game against the rival Rangers in Uniondale, unless the clubs meet in the playoffs, is March 10.

Those are just some of the notable dates for the local hockey teams on the schedules released Sunday. Among the others:

The Islanders and Eastern Conference champion Rangers will play four other regular-season games: Oct. 14 and Jan. 13 at the Garden, and Jan. 27 and Feb. 16 in Uniondale.

The Rangers' home opener is Oct. 12 against Toronto; the Islanders' home opener is Oct. 11 against Carolina. The Rangers close the regular season in Washington on April 11.

The Rangers will play 25 other games against Metropolitan Division opponents: five against the Carolina Hurricanes and four each (two home, two away) against the Devils, Penguins, Blue Jackets, Capitals and Flyers. The Islanders will play five against the Penguins and four against the Devils, Blue Jackets, Capitals, Flyers and Hurricanes.

The Islanders will play eight of their last nine against clubs that made the playoffs this season. The Rangers play seven of their last 10 against teams that didn't make the playoffs.

The Rangers have four four-game homestands, one five-game road trip and 13 back-to-backs. The Islanders have three four-game homestands, two five-game trips and 14 back-to-backs.

The Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings visit the Garden on March 24. The Isles host the Kings on March 26.

Training camps officially open Sept. 18, but players generally arrive early to skate informally.

The annual Winter Classic will be in Washington, between the Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks, on Jan. 1. All-Star Weekend is in Columbus on Jan. 24 and 25.

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