Buckle up Jets fans, the NHL schedule makers have served a heck of an October menu this year. Or perhaps credit should go to the crazily complex algorithm the NHL head office uses.
Either way, the 82 game slog begins with a Wednesday night matchup against a Canadian opponent and is then immediately followed up by welcoming the Florida Panthers to town, the Stanley Cup finalists who also happen to employ former Jets coach Paul Maurice.
It only gets better from there.
Here are some of the key dates to circle for your Winnipeg Jets October calendar.
Jets kick off the season on the road in Calgary
October 11th at Calgary
This one is a slam dunk.
It’s the first game of the season against a Canadian opponent, one whom the Jets edged out for the final Wild Card spot last season by just two points. It will be Gabe Vilardi, Alex Iafallo, and (likely) Rasmus Kupari’s Winnipeg Jets debuts, and, down the road in April, it wouldn’t be a shock to see these two teams once again competing for those Wild Card positions.
From the Flames point of view, there’s also intrigue. New Flames coach Ryan Huska will be behind the bench for his first NHL game as head coach, while Jonathan Huberdeau will be looking to rebound from the troubling start to his Flames tenure.
And I’m sure you’re aware that game one could also be the beginning of the end for two of the finest Jets there are in Mark Scheifele and Connor Hellebuyck.
Pierre-Luc Dubois makes his return to Winnipeg
October 17th vs Los Angeles
This one is can’t miss stuff. The NHL schedule makers did Jets fans – and NHL fans – a massive favor in getting this one in the schedule early.
Pierre-Luc Dubois will make his way back to Winnipeg after forcing his way out of town, putting a premature end to Kevin Chevyldayoff’s dreams of being set down the middle for years with a Scheifele-Dubois duo.
In truth, Dubois did do the Jets a solid with his honesty, and Winnipeg got an excellent return working out a sign and trade with the Kings. But that doesn’t mean it still doesn’t sting a little.
I’m expecting a raucous Canada Life Centre and ruthless booing any time Dubois touches the puck.
And we get it all on just the third game of the season.
Blake Wheeler returns to Winnipeg after 897 games as a Jet
October 30th vs New York Rangers
The Jets will only play the New York Rangers twice this season, with the second matchup coming way later in March.
That makes it a total blessing that their first matchup at the end of October against the Rangers is a home game.
The former captain, franchise leader in games, assists, and points, as well as the single season record holder for most assists in a season (71 in 2018-19) Blake Wheeler makes his return to Winnipeg.
Wheeler will return to the Canada Life Centre as arguably the greatest player in franchise history.
It should be a night of good vibes, emotion, and a supremely warm welcome for a player who played his entire prime (ages 25-35) in Winnipeg.
Jets get early measuring stick match against defending Cup champs
October 19th vs Vegas
Winnipeg will welcome the defending Stanley Cup Champions to town real early this season, getting a chance for petty revenge on having their season ended by them in a 5 game playoff series last April.
It’s also become real easy for Jets fans to dislike them.
Vegas figures to be one of the best teams in the league, and will be an early measuring stick for the Jets to see where they’re at this season.
Winnipeg’s strengths this year should be triple pronged: elite goaltending, depth at forward, and a top 10 penalty kill.
Vegas has depth at forward like few teams, though, consistently rolling four lines that play to their identity. It will be a nice measuring stick to see how Winnipeg’s newfound forward depth matches up against one of the league’s deepest (and biggest) forward groups.
Connor McDavid and the Oilers welcome the Jets to Edmonton
October 21st at Edmonton
The allure for this game is obvious.
Winnipeg will play against Connor McDavid, the most ridiculous hockey player I’ve ever watched.
Every Jets game against Edmonton, for me at least, is appointment viewing.
Edmonton’s historic power play will battle against Winnipeg’s top 10 penalty kill, and the Jets will get another chance to battle some of the league’s best.
With Winnipeg playing Vegas two days earlier, the Jets will get an immediate sense of where they stand in the conference after playing both of last year’s Western Conference Finalists.
Leaving the Vegas-Edmonton phase of the schedule with four points would be absolutely massive.
The puck drops on the season in just 16 days.