We are back, baby!
82 games, 31 opponents, October through April.
The NHL officially announced the 2021-22 schedule for its 32 member clubs, including the Kings, following a live broadcast this afternoon on ESPN revealing some of the games. Following a 2020-21 season that featured just 56 games, all played within the division, we’re back to seeing a much more normal schedule for 2021-22, with a full complement of games and opponents.
The addition of Seattle has created four balanced divisions for the first time in a long time……well, balanced in numbers, at least. The Kings will play five of the seven teams in the Pacific Division four times (2H / 2A) and the other two opponents three times. The two to draw the short straw this season from a Kings perspective are Calgary (2H / 1A) and Vancouver (1H / 2A), with the Kings facing Anaheim, Edmonton, Seattle, San Jose and Vegas twice at home and twice on the road.
The newly founded Seattle Kraken don’t visit Los Angeles for the first time until late-March, when they come to Los Angeles for a two-game set on 3/26 and 3/28.
After going from facing divisional opponents for 100% of the schedule, to less than one-third, it’ll certainly be a bit of an adjustment getting back to a more normal setup, especially when considering that just 11 of the first 52 games will come within the division, before 15 of the final 30 will be divisional matchups. Buckle up for that stretch run!
The Kings will face each team in the Central Division three times this season, four teams at home twice and four teams on the road twice. The Kings will play Chicago, Colorado, Minnesota and Nashville twice at home and once on the road, and will host Arizona, Dallas, St. Louis and Winnipeg once each, and visit them twice. The Central Division accounts for 24 games, nearly the same amount that the Kings will play in the division.
As per usual, the Eastern Conference teams feature just once at home and once away for each team, but honestly it will just be nice to see some of those teams again. Included in that group is the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, who will visit STAPLES Center on January 18, following the Kings visit to Florida on December 14. The something-Conference champion Montreal Canadiens will visit LA on October 30, followed by the return leg on November 9.
– The most frequent day of the week on the schedule is Thursday, followed closely by Saturday. The Kings will play more games at home (13) and in total (20) on Thursdays than any other day. The team will play the most road games on Saturdays (8), with seven apiece on Thursdays and Mondays.
– So much for Friday night hockey, eh? The Kings will play just one Friday at home this season and just four Friday games in total, including the season-finale in Vancouver.
– Outside of the influx of Thursday home dates, the Kings have a balance with the other “work week” days, with five Tuesday home games, and four apiece on Mondays and Wednesdays.
– The road schedule is surprisingly balanced, with every day besides Friday falling between five and seven games.
– Outside of February, which is an obvious outlier, the Kings schedule is relatively balanced this season at home, with the team playing between five and eight home games in all other months.
– Overall, the Kings will play a jam-packed March, with 16 total games, on top of 14 games apiece in December and January, and 12 games in both November and April.
– The away schedule is much less balanced – The Kings will play eight road games in December and March, and seven in January and April, but just eight total contests on the road in the months of October and November combined, with 14 of the first 22 games on home ice.
– February is unique – The current schedule takes into account the NHL sending players to the Winter Olympics (league statement below), thus implementing a three-week break in the schedule to accommodate. If interested in attending a game during that time, the Ontario Reign will release their schedule tomorrow, and it includes at least one home game during that break. As noted earlier, Olympic participation is not yet confirmed by the league.
Odds & Ends
– The Kings will have two, seven-game homestands this season (Nov. 17 – Dec. 2 and Dec. 28 – Jan. 13), both of which are longer than any homestand the team had last season. This marks the first time since 2016-17, and just the third time in Kings history (also 1969-70), that the team has a pair of homestands seven games or longer in the same season.
– The Kings will play eight consecutive road games from January 23 – February 24, though it’s broken up as a six-game road trip and a two-game road trip, separated by the potential break for the Olympics. The six-game trip is the longest of the season, matching last season’s high. Were the eight games classified as one trip, it would have been the second-longest in franchise history.
– The Kings have 15 back-to-back sets this season, including two with consecutive home games (Oct. 30/31, Nov. 20/21), four with at least one of the games at home (Dec. 22/23, Dec. 27/28, Jan. 17/18, Mar. 12/13) and nine in two different road cities.
– The 15 back-to-backs are six more than last season, as was expected with the increase in total games, and equal to what 2019-20 was slated to hold if the season was played in its entirety. 15 is the second-highest total for the Kings since the league transitioned to the four-division alignment in 2013-14.
– We’ll see a few reunions this season, beginning with Jeff Carter, who will return to STAPLES Center with the Pittsburgh Penguins on January 13. Tyler Toffoli returns on October 30 with Montreal for the first time since he was traded in 2020. As noted above, Kurtis MacDermid and Seattle will visit STAPLES Center on March 26.
– The Grammy Awards are back at STAPLES Center on January 31, which coincides with the season-long road trip in late-January/early-February. A familiar trip for Kings fans at this point, with the team on the road at this time in most normal seasons.
– Holidays! Going off of the calendar on my iPhone, the Kings are home on Halloween, away on Veterans Day, home on New Year’s Day, away on Martin Luther King Day and home on St. Patrick’s Day. There seems to be a holiday for everything these days, so perhaps the Kings are also home on National Donut Day, or whichever you choose to celebrate privately.
– NHL All-Star Weekend will take place in Las Vegas, at the home of the Vegas Golden Knights, T-Mobile Arena on Feb. 4-5. The 2022 Honda NHL® All-Star Weekend will include the 2022 NHL All-Star Skills™ on Friday, Feb. 4, and the 2022 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Saturday, Feb. 5, and will feature various hockey-themed events, entertainment and activities.
League Notes On The 2022 Winter Olympics
No final agreement or decision has been made to this point regarding the possible participation of NHL Players in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Talks remain ongoing. Subject to reaching agreement with the NHL Players’ Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation on all outstanding issues, including appropriate COVID-19 insurance for NHL Players, the League has agreed, per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, to pause from Feb. 7-22, 2022 to accommodate NHL Player participation in the Olympic Games. The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association will retain full authority to decide not to participate should COVID-19 conditions worsen or otherwise pose a threat to the health and safety of NHL Players, or for any other reason that may warrant such decision. In the event NHL Players participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics, the NHL regular season will resume on Wednesday, Feb. 23. If, for whatever reason, there is no NHL Player participation in the Olympics, a revised Regular Season schedule will be released which, to the greatest extent possible, will adopt the dates and games reflected in the schedule contemplating Olympic participation.
Official start times, broadcast information and promotional details will be announced at a later date.