FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- We learned on Wednesday that the Sabres home and season opener, also known as the first game in the Jack Eichel Era, will be Oct. 8 against Ottawa in First Niagara Center.
But the full schedule has now been released by the league and there are a ton of interesting dates on the Buffalo calendar. My quick perusal is below (and now I'm got my typing fingers on punching out all 82 games in a new post you can check out here):
The McEichel matchups -- The Sabres play Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers in Buffalo on March 1 and travel to Rexall Place on Dec. 6. It will be their final game in the building made famous as "Northlands Coliseum" during the Wayne Gretzky era, as the Oilers move into a new downtown arena in 2016-17.
Eichel's first trip home -- Eichel plays his first game as an NHL player in Boston's TD Garden against the Bruins on Dec. 26. He won the Beanpot Tournament and got to the championship of the Frozen Four on that rink last season.
Dan Bylsma's return to Pittsburgh -- The new Buffalo coach returns to Consol Energy Center to meet his old team on Oct. 29 and March 29. With a Stanley Cup on his resume, you would think the greeting would be a warm one.
Evander Kane's return to Winnipeg -- Look for the new Sabres winger to get booed every single time he touches the puck during Buffalo's Jan. 10 trip to MTS Centre. It figures to be a media and fan circus.
Tyler Myers' return to Buffalo -- The Sabres' former Calder Trophy-winning defenseman comes back to town with the Jets on March 26.
Ryan Miller's return to Buffalo -- Shelved last year by a knee injury a few days prior to the game, the longtime Buffalo goalie and the Vancouver Canucks come to town on Nov. 7. Will Eddie Lack, Miller's backup last season, be the Buffalo starter this year? We'll see if Tim Murray makes a deal for him.
The Babcock Chronicles -- Every game against the Toronto Maple Leafs is a show, but the rivalry is really ramped up now after the Mike Babcock affair. The teams meet twice in the preseason (Sept. 25 in Toronto and Sept. 29 in Buffalo) and the regular-season meetings look like this: Oct. 21 and March 31 in Buffalo and March 7 and March 19 in Toronto.
The Cup champs -- The Chicago Blackhawks are in town on Dec. 19 and the Sabres travel to United Center on Jan. 8. Patrick Kane missed the visit to his hometown in April because of his collarbone injury
The East champs -- The Tampa Bay Lightning, a team that's a good model for Buffalo's rebuild, come to town on Oct. 10, Nov. 5. The Sabres, in fact, play all four of their games against Tampa over the season's first 15 games -- and then don't play the Bolts again.
The finale -- The season ends April 9 on the road against the New York Islanders. The Sabres' first game against the Isles in Brooklyn's Barclays Center is Nov. 1.
Get an early start -- The Sabres have 10 home matinees on their schedule, an unprecedented depature from past seasons. Seven are Saturday games at 1 p.m., much like Boston has done for many years. The full list of them:
Oct. 10, Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.
Oct. 12, Columbus, 3 p.m.
Nov. 7, Vancouver, 1 p.m.
Dec. 19, Chicago, 1 p.m.
Jan. 2, Detroit, 1 p.m.
Feb. 14, Colorado, 12:30 p.m.
Feb. 21, Pittsburgh, 12:30 p.m.
March 5, Minnesota 1 p.m.
March 12, Carolina 1 p.m.
March 26, Winnipeg, 1 p.m.