The new NHL season is getting closer, and with each passing day we here at Itinerant Fan start thinking more and more about road trips we can take.
One of our favorite activities is taking a look at the schedule and figuring out long, multi-city itineraries — trips where we can cram the most hockey action as possible and the most cities visited into a limited timeframe and, of course, budget. Each season’s schedule offers up a handful of opportunities to do this — and this is excluding the always-fun exercise of following your favorite team on a multi-city roadie.
Read on to see our suggestions for 2018-19. As always, a few ground rules for these itineraries:
- We looked to pack as many games into as small a timeframe as possible, at least considering typical travel times (we won’t suggest you travel cross-country for games on back-to-back days, for instance).
- We’re only looking at trips where you’re traveling in the same general direction as you go from city to city (so no zig-zagging around).
- We tried to limit the number of times you see a particular team to twice (admittedly difficult, as many times it’s easier to plan a trip through a region because a certain team is on a road jaunt through it).
- And we looked only at minimum four-city trips, because hey, longer trips are more fun.
There are undoubtedly a few other trip ideas that we passed over or simply overlooked — if you’ve got a trip idea you’d like to share with us, or better yet, if you’ve got a kick-ass trip planned, let us know about it!
Here’s what looks good for the upcoming season:
1) Banner-raising kickoff
Wednesday, Oct. 3: Bruins at Capitals
Thursday, Oct. 4: Capitals at Penguins
Friday, Oct. 5: Hurricanes at Blue Jackets
Saturday, Oct. 6: Blackhawks at Blues
The defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals will celebrate their title in their opener at Capital One Arena on Oct. 3. Be there for that tilt against the Bruins, then work your way west with stops at Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena (for a tantalizing playoff rematch between the Penguins and Caps), Columbus’ Nationwide Arena and St. Louis’ Scottrade Center. Oh, and if you feel like violating Rule No. 2 above, make a sharp right turn from St. Louis and see the Blackhawks host the Maple Leafs at United Center on Sunday, Oct. 7.
2) The Western Canadian jaunt
Friday, Nov. 16: Sabres at Jets
Saturday, Nov. 17: Oilers at Flames
Sunday, Nov. 18: Golden Knights at Oilers
Monday, Nov. 19: Jets at Canucks
Swing through Canada before winter sets in with this extended weekend trip, starting at Winnipeg’s Bell MTS Centre on a Friday night. Then, wind your way through Alberta with stops at Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome and Edmonton’s Rogers Place, before finishing at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena.
3) Hockey in the big city
Saturday, Dec. 1: Blue Jackets at Islanders (at Nassau Coliseum)
Sunday, Dec. 2: Jets at Rangers
Monday, Dec. 3: Lightning at Devils
Tuesday, Dec. 4: Jets at Islanders (at Barclays Center)
Thursday, Dec. 6: Blue Jackets at Flyers
Here’s a fun one that won’t require much road-tripping: See four hockey games at four different venues — all without leaving the New York metro area. That’s made possible by the fact that the Islanders will be holding a handful of games at their old home, Nassau Coliseum, including the start of this proposed trip on Saturday, Dec. 1. From there, swing by Madison Square Garden, Prudential Center and Barclays Center (the Isles’ current home). Finally, make it an actual road trip by heading down to Philadelphia and catching the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.
4) Celebrate the New Year
Tuesday, Jan. 1: Bruins vs. Blackhawks (at Notre Dame Stadium)
Wednesday, Jan. 2: Flames at Red Wings
Thursday, Jan. 4: Wild at Maple Leafs
Saturday, Jan. 6: Wild at Senators
What better way for a hockey fan to ring in 2019 by attending the annual Winter Classic? This season’s edition will take place at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind., which also puts you in prime position to see more hockey during the remainder of the week. For this itinerary, you can head east to Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena, then cross the border and catch games at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena and Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre.
5) The West Coast respite
Tuesday, Feb. 12: Coyotes at Golden Knights
Thursday, Feb. 14: Canucks at Kings
Wednesday, Feb. 15: Bruins at Ducks
Saturday, Feb. 16: Canucks at Sharks
If you’re a hockey fan living in a place where the winters can get harsh, why not spend some time catching your favorite sport in a warmer climate? A mid-February trip offers the opportunity to do just that. It begins with the defending Western Conference champion Golden Knights hosting the Coyotes at T-Mobile Arena, then winds through California with stops at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Honda Center in Anaheim and SAP Center in San Jose.
6) Down the stretch
Monday, March 18: Coyotes at Lightning
Tuesday, March 19: Penguins at Hurricanes
Wednesday, March 20: Lightning at Capitals
Thursday, March 21: Bruins at Devils
Saturday, March 23: Islanders at Flyers
Sunday, March 24: Coyotes at Islanders (at Nassau Coliseum)
Monday, March 25: Penguins at Rangers
Wednesday, March 27: Rangers at Bruins
With playoff races undoubtedly raging, why not put together an epic trip to wind down the season? Here’s a chance to travel up the Eastern Seaboard, with stops at Amalie Arena in Tampa, PNC Arena in Raleigh, Capital One Arena in Washington, Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, Madison Square Garden in New York and, finally, TD Garden in Boston.
It’s a long trip, for sure, and yes, we did violate the zig-zag rule stated above. But whether you do all or part of any of these trips listed, or if you formulate one of your own, there are plenty of chances out there to hit the road to watch hockey this upcoming season.