Unlike last season, which began with a three-game road trip (in Boston, Chicago, and Buffalo, respectively); the 2014-15 season begins with a relatively easy three-game home stand at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, starting on Oct. 9 against the Florida Panthers, followed by the Ottawa Senators (Oct. 11) and the New Jersey Devils (Oct. 14).
After the home stand, the Bolts hit the road for their first real challenge in October: a five-game, mostly Canadian, road trip – starting with Vancouver on Oct. 18; then on to Edmonton and Calgary for the season’s first of 11 back-to-back games; a stop-off in Winnipeg on Oct. 24 before zipping back to the states for a showdown with Minnesota the next day for another back-to-back.
Of the 10 teams faced in October, only two made the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs (Philadelphia and Minnesota). Overall, a pretty easy opening month for the Lightning with plenty of room to grow and grab 14-16, maybe even 18, of the possible 20 points; if the Lightning come out rocking from the get-go, like they did last year.
The Bolts could set the tone fairly early in October with a good start, but the following months won’t come as relatively easy as this one, so hopefully the Bolts will take advantage of it and go from there.
Home/Away Breakdowns: 5/5; Total Games: 10
Toughest Matchups: Minnesota Wild, Arizona Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers
Key Facts: one five-game road trip; two back-to-backs; 20 possible points
Month Difficulty: Moderate-to-easy, depends on how hot the start is and how they negotiate that first long road trip and a few Western Conference foes later in the month.