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Key Points on the New York Islanders 2013-14 Schedule

Dates that will raise our temperature or raise our expectations.

Sutter (16): "Kinda tired here. Anyone else wanna help me chase this guy?"
Sutter (16): "Kinda tired here. Anyone else wanna help me chase this guy?"

The first thing one notices about the 2013-14 schedule is that it's long -- 82 games! -- almost like the NHL has not spent this summer, and doesn't plan to spend this fall, grandstanding in a war with its players.

Instead, we get a full season(!) and a February Olympic interruption, too. Here are some big points and guideposts to look for on the Isles' schedule.

September: Preseason, Brooklyn

The Isles have eight preseason games (including split-squad dates on Sept. 17 and 29), but the game everyone actually cares about is the Sept. 21 meeting against the Devils in Brooklyn.

October: Home, Home Again

Eight of the Islanders' 12 games in October are at home, including many beatable opponents (Columbus, Phoenix, Buffalo, Edmonton, Carolina). Feels like we say this every year, but they can't afford to blow those early opportunities.

November: Southleast Tour, Thanksgiving Hangover

Two stretches of note in November: The Isles visit Washington, Carolina and Columbus Nov. 5-9 in a tour of potentially weaker squads added to their division this year.

Also, the Isles host the Red Wings twice in 12 days, including their traditional post-Thanksgiving Friday matinee.

December: No Swooning Out West

The Islanders' annual California swing is in December this year, traditionally a month where Isles fans have been taught to fear the worst. From Dec. 5-12 they'll hit St. Louis, Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose and Phoenix.

January: Smurf Trifecta

Another four-game home stand features four top opponents, one every other day: From Jan. 23-27 the Isles host the Penguins, Blues, Bruins and Rangers at "home." Why sarcastic quotes? Because that fourth game is at Yankee Stadium, where the Isles are officially the home team.

Making this stretch even more pivotal in spiritual if not literal terms is the fact this homestand is bookended by games at Madison Square Garden Jan. 21 and Jan. 31.

February: Olympus Interruptus

There are four Isles games in February, three of them at home (one after the Olympic break). The chief goal this month is not to see injuries or fatigue for John Tavares and Lubomir Visnovsky.

March: The Other West

The big hook this month is the Islanders' second Western trip, this time to Western Canada March 4-10 when they visit Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.

April: The Cruelest Month

Well, odds are the Islanders' playoff hopes will solidify or crash in April. There are eight games, five of them on the road, and only the best and worst teams will know their fate by the time the calendar turns to tax month. The Isles finish with three on the road, in Montreal, New Jersey and Buffalo.