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Lightning releases 2013-14 schedule

TAMPA — Jon Cooper looked at his first full 82-game schedule as Lightning coach and saw little room to ease into next season, with his team opening on the road against Stanley Cup finalists Boston and Chicago.

"We're jumping in with both feet on this one," he said of the Oct. 3 opener at the Bruins and the Oct. 5 game at the Blackhawks after the NHL released its schedules Friday. "We'll definitely have a feel for where we're at."

Another significant game to circle: former Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier returns to Tampa with the Flyers on Nov. 27 for the first time after Tampa Bay bought out his contract this offseason. He also returns April 10 in the final week of the season, during which the Lightning will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Stanley Cup championship.

In the first season of realignment that has two divisions in each conference instead of three, the league's new scheduling format has all 29 other teams facing the Lightning at home and on the road. In the Lightning's new Atlantic Division — the league also announced division names Friday — Tampa Bay plays the Bruins, Panthers, Maple Leafs Canadiens and Sabres four times, and the Red Wings and Senators five.

The Lightning's schedule is home-heavy at the start and finish, with seven of the first 10 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum and 14 of the final 20.

"The home games bookend the season," Cooper said. "Everybody's like, 'You have to take advantage.' We have to put ourselves in a nice playoff position so we can take advantage of those home games down the stretch."

The league will take 17 days off from Feb. 9-25 to allow players to compete in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. As a result, the season is condensed, with 16 games for the Lightning in March, for instance.

"Your start is imperative, just because you want to try to grab momentum with so many games in the condensed schedule," Cooper said.

Cooper, pleased his team has only 12 sets of back-to-back games, is concerned about long road stretches in the middle of the season, such as seven of the first eight games in January, given that the Lightning had the Eastern Conference's worst road record last season, 6-16-2.

As a first-year NHL coach, Cooper hasn't encountered the nuances of a schedule in an Olympic year, but he said the addition of veteran assistant Rick Bowness this offseason has helped him greatly. "He's been a great guy to lean on. He's watched (the NHL) every which way, through multiple lockouts, different things," Cooper said.

Other divisions: The other new divisions and their names: Metropolitan: Rangers, Islanders, Devils, Capitals, Penguins, Flyers, Hurricanes, Blue Jackets. Central: Blackhawks, Blues, Predators, Wild, Avalanche, Stars and Jets. Pacific: Kings, Ducks, Coyotes, Sharks, Canucks, Flames, Oilers.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

OCTOBER
SUNMONTUEWEDTHUFRISAT
1

23

BOS

7

45

CHI

8

678

BUF

7:30

910

FLA

7:30

1112

PIT

7

131415

L.A.

7:30

1617

MIN

7:30

1819

BOS

7

2021222324

CHI

7:30

2526

BUF

7

27

FLA

5

2829

N.J.

7:30

3031


NOVEMBER
SUNMONTUEWEDTHUFRISAT
1

CAR

7

2

STL

7

34567

EDM

7:30

89

DET

7

1011

BOS

1

12

MON

7:30

1314

ANA

7:30

1516

PHX

8

171819

L.A.

10:30

2021

S.J.

10:30

22

ANA

10

23
2425

NYR

7:30

2627

PHI

7:30

2829

PIT

4

30


DECEMBER
SUNMONTUEWEDTHUFRISAT
1

23

CLB

7

45

OTT

7:30

67

WIN

7

8910

WSH

7

1112

DET

7:30

1314

N.J.

7

15

DET

5

1617

NYI

7

1819

NSH

7:30

2021

CAR

7

2223

FLA

7:30

2425262728

MON

7

29

NYR

7

3031


JANUARY
SUNMONTUEWEDTHUFRISAT
1

VAN

10

2

3

CLG

9

4
5

EDM

8

67

WIN

8

89

WSH

7:30

1011

PHI

1

1213

CLB

7

14

NYR

7

1516

NYI

7:30

1718

S.J.

2

19

CAR

5

20212223

OTT

7:30

2425

COL

7

262728

TOR

7

2930

OTT

7:30

31


FEBRUARY
SUNMONTUEWEDTHUFRISAT
1

MON

1

234

MIN

8

56

TOR

7:30

78

DET

7

9101112131415
16171819202122
2324252627

NSH

8

28


MARCH
SUNMONTUEWEDTHUFRISAT
1

DAL

3

2

COL

8

34

STL

8

56

BUF

7:30

78

BOS

7

910

PHX

7:30

111213

FLA

7:30

1415

N.J.

7

1617

VAN

7:30

1819

TOR

7

20

OTT

7:30

2122

PIT

1

2324

OTT

7:30

252627

NYI

7:30

2829

BUF

7

30

DET

5

31


APRIL
SUNMONTUEWEDTHUFRISAT
1

MON

7:30

23

CAL

7:30

45

DAL

7

678

TOR

7:30

910

PHI

7:30

11

CLB

7:30

12
13

WSH

3

141516171819
20212223242526
27282930


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Lightning releases 2013-14 schedule 07/19/13 [Last modified: Friday, July 19, 2013 10:42pm]
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