Updated: Jul 24, 2021
(All photos in this article are via Tampa Bay Lightning on Twitter)
By Jake Ricker
The Lightning have released the 2021-2022 NHL schedule, and it's time to break it all down and see how the defending back-to-back champions will defend their title. One thing to note is the NHL is returning to their typical full 82 game schedule with every team playing all 31 other teams at least once at home and once on the road. The Bolts will defiantly have some tough stretches this year, but overall it should be an exciting season as we finally get back to your regular programmed scheduling.
To try and help make this schedule easier to digest, let's first take a look at this schedule month by month. We will then look at some of the overall themes in the schedule to sum it all up. One thing to keep in mind is that the NHL has a backup schedule if they do not go to the Olympics. The schedule will likely not change much, but there would be some differences.
The Lightning will start their season at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins to raise their second banner in back-to-back years. The Bolts will play a total of four road games and four home games, with one back to back in October. The start of the season will be interesting for the Lightning as they have some tough opponents such as the Penguins, Capitals, Panthers, and President Trophy-winning Avalanche. Luckily for the Bolts, they do have some "easier" games mixed in there, such as games against the Sabers and the Red Wings to lighten the load of this start to the season.
The Lightning will play a total of 13 games in November, with eight home games and five road games. The Bolts will also play one back to back at home. The most significant note for November is that this is the first time the Bolts will get a look at the newest NHL franchise and the first time Yanni Gourde will return home. This is probably one of the calmer months for the Bolts, as there are a lot tougher stretches in a few other months. The Bolts will also have a four-game home streak, with seven out of 8 being at home as well. So if you're looking for a good time to go see the Bolts play at Amalie Arena, November might be the best time.
The Lightning will play in 14 games in December, with nine games being played on the road and five games at home. With a majority of the games being played on the road, the Bolts will have a five-game road trip which is their second-longest of the season. This will also be the first time the Lighting will have two sets of back-to-back games in the same month. But the biggest game to note this month is that this will be the first time the Lightning face off against their Stanley Cup Final opponent in the Canadiens. The Bolts will also have four days off during the holiday, which every NHL team will have off as the NHL does not play on Christmas.
The Lightning will have a total of 13 games in January, with seven being played on the road and six played at home. The Bolts will play two sets of back-to-back games in the same month for the second time this season. This is also another one of the calmer months for the Bolts as there are no road trips over three games long and no tough stretches against playoff teams.
There is not much to talk about in February, with only three total games being played, two of which are at home and one on the road. The reason for the large gap in games is this is when the NHL plans to be at the Olympics; however, if the NHL does not go to the Olympics, then there will be additional games played this month, but we will still have the All-Star break. The biggest game for the Bolts in February is the game against the. Predators. For the first time in franchise history, the Lighting will be playing hockey in the great outdoors. So despite only having three games this month, Bolts fans will have a lot to look forward to with the Olympics and the outdoor game taking place.
March is where things get interesting for the Bolts. They will play a total of 15 games, with 10 of them on the road and just 5 of them at home. The Lightning will play in their longest road trip of the season when they play six games on the road before coming home for just one game at home against the Rangers. The Bolts will then head right back out on the road to play four more road games. The Bolts will also have to play a back-to-back during their six-game road trip against the Oilers and Canucks. At least the Bolts will be able to end this tough month of March with a game at home against the Hurricanes.
To wrap up the NHL season, the Bolts will have 16 games in April, with 11 of them at home and five of them on the road. The Bolts will have a nice home stretch in the final month of the season. The Lightning will play two home games before heading out to Dallas to take on the Stars and then coming back to play the next five games at Amalie Arena. Despite having a large number of games at home in April, the Bolts will have some tough opponents, with six out of the 11 games at home being against playoff teams. April will also contain the most back-to-backs as they will have a total of 3 of them. The Bolts will then end the season on a back to back.
So there you have it, the 2020-2021 NHL schedule. The Bolts will have some busy months ahead of them, but they also have a lot to look forward to, such as their outdoor game. Here are a few of the highlights from the full schedule.
April is the busiest month with 16 games.
The Bolts longest road trip in six games
The Bolts longest homestand is five games
There will be only three games played in February, but there is the Olympic break and the outdoor game.
November 26th, Gourde returns to Tampa
December 7th first time the Lightning face the Canadiens since the Stanley Cup finals.
The Lightning open the season against the Penguins. They are the last two teams to win back-to-back Stanley Cups.
For the full Lightning schedule, you can check that out here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Youtube for coverage all season long as we get closer and closer to opening night, where the Bolts will raise their third championship banner to the rafters.
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