RALEIGH — The 2017-18 schedule released Wednesday by the NHL offered some relief to the Carolina Hurricanes compared to years past.
After starting last season with a six-game road trip that resulted in a 1-3-2 record, the Hurricanes will open the upcoming campaign with two home games at PNC Arena before hitting the road for their annual — albeit shorter-than-usual at four games — state fair road trip.
Carolina opens their schedule hosting former captain Eric Staal and the Minnesota Wild on Oct. 7, followed by the Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 10 before leaving Raleigh to avoid the crowds at the nearby North Carolina State Fair.
But the four-games-in-eight-days Western Conference swing isn’t as brutal as years past, and Carolina actually finishes the month with an even five games at home and five on the road. That doesn’t mean the Hurricanes won’t have their share of rough patches.
The team plays 18 sets back-to-back games, including five in March. December will also be difficult, with 10 road games — including a season-long six-game trip that includes Carolina’s first game in Las Vegas on Dec. 12 — compared to just five home games.
Also, Carolina’s first 13 games includes just one inside the Metropolitan Division (Game 2 at home vs. Columbus), whereas nine of the teams final 19 games will reside against division foes.
Here’s a month-by-month breakdown of some of the more interesting facets of the Hurricanes’ 2017-18 schedule.
October (10 games; 5 home, 5 road)
The Hurricanes get two home games to open the season (Oct. 7 vs. Wild; Oct. 10 vs. Blue Jackets).
Carolina then heads out on a four-game N.C. State Fair road trip from Oct. 14-21.
November (13 games; 7 home, 6 home)
New Hurricanes Scott Darling and Trevor van Riemsdyk face their old team, the Blackhawks, at PNC Arena on Nov. 11.
The Nov. 7 home game vs. Florida ends a 13-game run to start the season in which Carolina plays just one Metro Division opponent.
December (15 games; 5 home, 10 road)
December marks the most road-heavy month of the schedule, with twice as many games away from Raleigh as the team has at PNC Arena.
It includes a season-long six-game road trip that is highlighted by visits to five Western Conference teams.
Carolina’s first visit to T-Mobile Arena is Dec. 12 against the incoming Vegas Golden Knights.
January (12 games; 5 home, 7 road)
A month after playing in Las Vegas, the Hurricanes will host the Golden Knights for the first time Jan. 21.
Carolina plays Washington three times in 11 days from Jan. 2-12, first at home and then and old-school home-and-home set in Washington Jan. 11 and back in Raleigh the next night.
The team’s five-day bye week is Jan. 15-19, sandwiched by games hosting Calgary (Jan. 14) and at Detroit (Jan. 20).
February (13 games; 10 home, 3 road)
February sees the Hurricanes at home a season-high 10 times, including the first seven games of the month to cap an eight-game homestand that begins by hosting Ottawa on Jan. 30.
Eight of Carolina’s 13 games will come as part of four back-to-back sets.
March (16 games; 8 home, 8 road)
March is the Hurricanes’ busiest month with 16 games, but it’s balanced with an even number of eight each on the home and road.The month features a season-high five back-to-back sets, including two in the final week of the month.
Darling, van Riemsdyk and the rest of Carolina’s former Blackhawks visit Chicago for the only time in 2017-18 on March 8.
One day shy of five months after they face off in the season opener, the Hurricanes and Wild play the back half of their two-game season series on March 6.
April (3 games; 1 home, 2 road)
Carolina closes their regular season with three Eastern Conference games in April: two on the road at Florida and Philadelphia, then the season finale at PNC Arena against the Lightning.