Playoff spots in the NHL’s Metropolitan Division were highly contested at the end of last season, and that could be the case again next season. Thirteen of the Rangers’ final 27 games of the 2016-17 regular season are against division teams.
But the Rangers, who finished with 101 points before bowing to the Penguins in the first round of the playoffs, have a chance for a good start: Ten of their first 14 games will be at Madison Square Garden, beginning Oct. 13 against the Islanders.
The NHL schedule, unveiled on Tuesday, also has a “bye” week for each team, in part to compensate for the preseason World Cup of Hockey tournament that runs into October and a condensed campaign, which for the Rangers includes 16 back-to-back games. For the Rangers, that bye week is Jan. 8-12. Teams also will have a break before, during and after All-Star weekend, which is in Los Angeles Jan. 28-29.
That sets up another grueling March, with 15 games.
Last season, the longest homestands and road trips were three games. There are two four-game trips this season, in March and November, and one four-game homestand, in February.