NHL season begins Saturday

Jan. 18, 2013 at 9:21 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- The National Hockey League season will start Saturday more than two months later than originally scheduled with 26 of the 30 teams playing on opening day.

There will be 48 games for each team crammed into 99 days, a compact schedule brought about by a lockout of NHL players due to the absence of a collective bargaining agreement.

That agreement was finally reached earlier this month, allowing the NHL to avoid what came close to being a second lost campaign in eight years.

No inter-conference games will be played this season until the Stanley Cup Finals, which will come to a close no later than June 28.

The Los Angeles Kings will raise their championship banner Saturday prior to their season-opening contest against Chicago. Los Angeles, which entered the playoffs last year as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, defeated sixth-seeded New Jersey in six games to win the Stanley Cup.

Among the other first-day matchups will be Philadelphia's hosting of Pittsburgh in a rematch of one of last season's first-round playoff series. Philadelphia won that series in six games before losing to New Jersey in the second round.

Each team will play 18 games against clubs within its division -- five games each against two of the rivals and four each against the other two. There will be three meetings against each of the other 10 teams within the conference.

The regular season will end on April 27 with the playoffs beginning on April 30.

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