Mark the calendar for Thursday, Oct. 9.
That’s when the Buffalo Sabres will kick off the 2014-15 season against the Columbus Blue Jackets at First Niagara Center.
The NHL released the season openers for the league on Saturday afternoon. The entire NHL schedule will be released at 4 p.m. today.
The schedule is a change of pace for the Sabres, who have opened a season on home ice only once in the previous five years. The last home opener was after the lockout when the Sabres defeated Philadelphia, 5-2, on Jan. 20, 2013.
The Blue Jackets are entering their 14th season as an NHL franchise and are coming off a record-setting season. Columbus went 43-32-7 (93 points) to set club records for wins, points and road wins (21) while advancing to its second appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Sabres will be the visitor for the Chicago Blackhawks’ home opener on Oct. 11.
The NHL season opens Oct. 8 with four games highlighted by traditional, regional rivalries.
The Los Angeles Kings will begin the defense of their Stanley Cup by hosting the San Jose Sharks.
Also on opening night, the Philadelphia Flyers will play at the Boston Bruins, the Montreal Canadiens will be at the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Vancouver Canucks will play at the Calgary Flames.
Other interesting schedule notes:
• The newly branded Arizona Coyotes will play their first game at Jobing.com Arena with their new name Oct. 9 by hosting Winnipeg. Still the Phoenix Coyotes, the team will go by “Arizona” beginning on June 27 at the NHL Draft.
• Remember that first-round playoff series which went seven games between the Minnesota Wild and the Colorado Avalanche? How about extending it two games to start the season?
The teams will open with a home-and-home series, beginning at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Oct. 9. The series shifts to the Pepsi Center in Denver two days later.