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NHL opens season with Lighting-Rangers rematch

The NHL will open its 2022-23 regular season on Oct. 11 with a heavyweight double-header, featuring an Eastern Conference Final rematch between Tampa Bay and the New York Rangers and Pacific Division clash of Los Angeles and Vegas.

That and more was revealed Wednesday afternoon when the NHL unveiled its entire schedule for the upcoming year.

In a break with tradition, the reigning Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche aren’t on the league’s opening slate. Ball Arena was previously booked for a concert on Oct. 11, so the Avalanche will raise their Cup banner to the rafters on Oct. 12 before facing the Chicago Blackhawks.

Colorado defeated the Lightning in Game 6 of the Cup Final last month to earn their first title since 2001 and block Tampa Bay’s hopes of repeating a third time as league champs. Those two will see each other twice in a week during the regular season, on Feb. 9 at Tampa Bay and Feb. 14 at Colorado.

That’s right after the NHL’s All-Star break is worked in from Feb. 2-5. The annual skills competition and star-filled game will take place at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Florida from Feb. 3-4.

The league’s annual slate of outdoor games continues as well. The Winter Classic takes place on Jan. 2 between Boston and Pittsburgh at Fenway Park, and Carolina will host Washington on Feb. 18 at NC State’s Carter-Finlay Stadium in Raleigh for a Stadium Series matchup.

Additionally, the NHL is bringing back its Global Series that will take four clubs across the pond. Nashville and San Jose play their season-opening games on Oct. 7 and Oct. 8 at O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic. Columbus and Colorado will face each other in a back-to-back at Nokia Arena in Tampere, Finland on Nov. 4 and Nov. 5.

Some other highlights on the NHL’s agenda:

• Montreal opens its regular season at home against Toronto on Oct. 12, with the potential for this year’s No. 1 pick in the Entry Draft to be dressed for action. Will it be Shane Wright at center? Juraj Slafkovsky on the wing? There’s no time like an Original Six matchup for an NHL debut.

• Arizona will have six straight road games to start the year before hosting Winnipeg on Oct. 28 at their new — and somewhat polarizing — arena. The Coyotes are renting space at Arizona State University, where a 5,000-seat venue is still being constructed (hence the early-season slate of away games). Arizona had to invest millions into building NHL-approved add-ons at ASU, and the Jets will get first crack at testing the ice — literally.

• Edmonton limped out of the postseason following a sweep by the eventual Cup winners in their Western Conference Final series. Colorado will meet the Oilers again on Jan. 7 for a Saturday night showdown destined for slugfest territory.

• Fired (or unrenewed) coaches will make their various returns to familiar barns: Bruce Cassidy leads the Golden Knights back to Boston on Dec. 5, John Tortorella takes Philadelphia to Columbus on Nov. 10, Paul Maurice is in Winnipeg with Florida on Dec. 6, Peter DeBoer returns to Vegas behind Dallas’ bench on Jan. 16, Rick Bowness goes with the Winnipeg Jets early to face his former Stars on Oct. 17 and Jim Montgomery brings the Bruins back to Dallas on Valentine’s Day.

• There’s some rivalry action brewing for Thanksgiving weekend when Pittsburgh visits Philadelphia on Nov. 25, ahead of another showdown that evening between Tampa Bay and St. Louis.

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