Amidst all of the hype surrounding the Expansion Draft, the Entry Draft and the beginning of free agency, the Columbus Blue Jackets released their schedule for the 2021-22 season. After two abbreviated seasons due to the pandemic, the NHL will resume its normal 82-game season, spanning once again from October to April. Also returning to normal are the divisions, meaning a return to the Metro division for the Blue Jackets. Most importantly, teams will play outside of their divisions and face off against every team at least twice.
One of the first things thats jumps out when looking at the schedule is the lack of games in February. The season will potentially be put on a lengthy pause at that time for the All-Star break and the Olympics, assuming that NHL players are given permission to represent their countries. Talks are still ongoing, but it is sounding positive. It makes almost too much sense considering the Olympics begin during All-Star Weekend. The NHL has drafted two different schedules, including both with and without the Olympic break.
Let’s take a little closer look at the Blue Jackets’ schedule:
How do you, fellow kids?— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) July 23, 2021
We've got a fire schedule and are pretty stoked, tbh. Kick off the #CBJ season and rage with us tonight at the #NHLDraft Party (pres. by @GJPepsi). It'll be a lit time. Don't catch the FOMO. Forreal.
RSVP ➡️: https://t.co/pqXiHmMh51 pic.twitter.com/JeGMnvODzF
(Hopefully we get an updated schedule graphic soon)
The Blue Jackets open up their season October 14th at home vs. the Arizona Coyotes. Just two days later on Saturday, October 16th, the Jackets will take on the NHL’s newest team, the Seattle Kraken, for the first time at home.
Speaking of Seattle, the Blue Jackets make their inaugural trip to Climate Pledge Arena on December 11th. It will also serve as the first contest in the longest road trip of the season, and yearly Western Canada swing, which oddly enough ends in Buffalo. Another notable road trip (and fan favorite destination) includes the California trip to play Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Jose that spans April 16-19. If you are one of the many fans that make the pilgrimage to Bridgestone Arena in Nashville every year, that trip will unfortunately fall on Tuesday, November 30th. However, chances are you’ll still be partied out from catching the Blue Jackets on a Saturday night in Vegas on November 20th.
The Blue Jackets’ longest homestand of the year runs from February 27 - March 13 and includes a whopping seven games! That stretch begins with a Sunday match-up against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and ends two weeks later with another Sunday game with Vegas.
Multiple former Blue Jackets will make their return to Nationwide Arena this coming season. Some will get a nice tribute video, and ovation from fans...others not so much. Former #1C Pierre-Luc Dubois will receive his warm welcome back to Nationwide Arena on November 24th when the Jackets take on the Winnipeg Jets. Old friend Cam Atkinson and the Philadelphia Flyers don’t come to town until April 7th. Former Captain and new Boston Bruin, Nick Foligno, will make his first appearance back in Columbus on March 5th. Seth Jones and the Chicago Blackhawks come to town January 11th. David Savard will be the last former Blue Jacket to make his return to Nationwide when the Montreal Canadiens visit the Blue Jackets on April 12th.
The Blue Jackets will play nearly half of all their home games on the weekends (Fri-Sun), including marquee matchups against the Penguins, Rangers, Capitals, Golden Knights and the Kraken. Columbus was scheduled 16 back-to-backs (including nine home-and-aways), with 10 of them coming in the second half of the season. It’s not exaggerating to say it is a sprint to the finish considering the February layoff. The final game of the regular season falls on Friday, April 29th at home when the Blue Jackets take on the back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
Whatever this season may hold, there is little doubt in my mind it will be more fun to watch than whatever we saw last season. Is it October yet?