NHL Releases 2003-2004 Schedule

The National Hockey League released its schedule for the 2003-2004 season on Wednesday.

The new schedule features a focus on intra-division rivalries. Teams in the same division will play each other six times while intra-conference foes will meet four times. Teams from opposite conferences will meet at least once.

While the NHL says stresses rivalries and features more home-and-home series' that previous years, the Red Wings will actually partcipate in fewer home-and-home matchups than last season. In 2002-2003, Detroit was involved in five such series', this year they will compete in only three: one against the Columbus Blue Jackets, one against the Original Six foe Boston Bruins, and one against the arch-rival Colorado Avalanche.

The new season's schedule features several quirks for the Red Wings. Detroit will play two five-game West Coast road trips in the second half of the season. They have only one five-game homestand scheduled, taking place in mid-February.

Detroit also plays game on consecutive nights twelve times in 2003-2004. Of those twelve sets of games, the second game is on the road eleven times.

The Red Wings open their season at home on October 9 against the Los Angeles Kings.

Later that month, new Red Wing Derian Hatcher will face the team he formerly captain for the first time since leaving when the Dallas Stars visit Detroit on October 24.

The Red Wings first rematch with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim will come on December 3, when the Ducks visit Detroit for the first of four meetings between the two clubs.

The Red Wings will host the Atlanta Thrashers in their annual New Year's Eve game.

All four of Detroit's matchups with the Colorado Avalanche will take place in the months of February and March.

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