The NHL is taking care of a lot of off-season business this week: Last night, it handed out some awards in Las Vegas. Tomorrow, it'll kick off its annual Draft in Pittsburgh. And today, it released its schedule for next season. Keep in mind, of course, that the league's collective bargaining agreement expires in September, so a lockout is certainly within the realm of possibility. But if the schedule is played just like it was announced today, the Rangers will begin the upcoming campaign on a long road trip, just like they did last season. Unlike last year, though, this time it'll take place entirely within North America. Here, a look at next year's schedule.
• The Rangers will open the 2012-13 regular season in Los Angeles, where they'll watch the defending-champion Kings raise their Stanley Cup banner on October 12. It's the first of eight straight road games to begin the season — the Garden is undergoing the second phase of its renovation this summer — and that road trip also includes the Rangers' first game of the season against the Devils team that eliminated them from the 2012 playoffs.
• The 2012 home opener will be on November (!) 1, against the Stars.
• They'll play a matinee against the Bruins on Black Friday, which would appear to be this year's "Thanksgiving Showdown" game.
• A long road trip to begin the season means more home games later on, and they'll have three home stands of four games this year: One in November, one in December, and one in February.
• The defending champion Kings visit the Garden on February 7.
• Speaking of Western Conference teams, eight others will also be visiting the Garden this season: Anaheim (December 16), Calgary (February 5), Colorado (December 6), Dallas (November 1), Edmonton (March 10), Minnesota (November 8), St. Louis (December 8), and Vancouver (November 26). The teams that the Rangers won't host this season? Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Nashville, Phoenix, and San Jose.
• The Rangers end the season in Philadelphia on Saturday, April 13. All but two NHL teams will be in action that day — the final one of the regular season.