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Chill out: Schedules announced for Islanders and Rangers

Thomas Hickey of the Islanders defends in the

Thomas Hickey of the Islanders defends in the second period against Derick Brassard of the Rangers at Nassau Coliseum. (April 13, 2013) Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Rangers and Islanders, two of eight teams in the newly named Metropolitan Division of the NHL, both will open the 2013-14 season on the road, as announced by the league Friday.

The Capitals, Blue Jackets and Hurricanes will join the Rangers, Islanders, Devils, Penguins and Flyers in the eight-team Metropolitan Division. The latter five were in the Atlantic Division, one of six five-team divisions in the NHL, last season. There will be 16 teams in the Eastern Conference and 14 teams in the Western Conference.

The NHL playoffs will begin April 16 with a new format: The top three teams from each new division will qualify, along with the top two remaining point-getters in each conference, called "wild cards."

The Islanders will start off on Oct. 4 in Newark against the Devils, followed by their home opener on Oct. 5 against the Blue Jackets.

The Rangers will go much farther afield, starting the season with a nine-game road trip to accommodate the final phase of the Madison Square Garden renovation. They will open in Phoenix on Oct. 3 and won't appear on Garden ice until Oct. 28 against the Canadiens.

The two rivals will meet for the first time the following night, Oct. 29, at Nassau Coliseum, the only Long Island appearance for the Rangers this season. The Isles have a "home" outdoor game against the Rangers at Yankee Stadium on Jan. 29.

The NHL season will kick off Oct. 1 with three games, including the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks hosting the Capitals.

The Isles, who will play eight of their first 12 games at the Coliseum, will close the season in Buffalo on April 13. The Rangers will finish in Montreal on April 12.

The league also officially announced its participation in the Winter Olympics, meaning there will be a 16-day break from Feb. 9-25 so NHL players can play in the games in Sochi, Russia. Canada and the U.S. will hold orientation camps for prospective players next month.

Several players from the Islanders and Rangers could make the trip to Sochi, most notably John Tavares (Canada), Kyle Okposo (U.S.), Michael Grabner (Austria) and Lubomir Visnovsky (Slovakia) from the Isles and Henrik Lundqvist and Carl Hagelin (Sweden), Ryan Callahan and Ryan McDonagh (U.S.) and Rick Nash and Dan Girardi (Canada) from the Rangers.

New York Sports