Despite a not-so-brief work-related detour, we’ve arrived at the third and final installment of our 2013-14 NHL Road Trippin’ guide. Needless to say, we’re starting to feel like our Hockey Falls predecessors:
Nevertheless, we have soldiered on and planned itineraries for the patient fans of the late-in-the-alphabet teams (no, that’s not one of Bettman’s new divisions). If you’re new to the series, be sure to check out our Rules of the Roadtrip, which has some helpful tips you oughta read before you hit the road.
And while we’re here, we’d like to wish our fellow Puckheads luck surviving August, which everyone knows is a hockey fan’s most devastating month on the calendar. It’s that time between free agency and training camp that just makes us squirm. Keep coming back to Hockey Falls, as we’ll be doing our best to help you through this dark time. See you on the other side.
Depart Philly: January 12
Return to Philly: January 15
Distance: 865 miles
Driving Time: 14 hours, 1 minute
Want to see a lot of goals? Don’t care which net they end up in? Then, dear Flyers fan, this trip is for you! A thin blue line and laughable goaltending tandem shouldn’t stop Flyers fans from catching a couple of games in the Empire State this January. On Sunday, January 12th, drive up to New York City for a Metropolitan (!?!?) Division rivalry game between the Rangers and Flyers. Spend Monday in NYC, then wake up early on Tuesday and make the journey out to Buffalo for the game that night. Fill up on wings before heading back to Philly on Wednesday.
Depart Phoenix: November 2
Return to Phoenix: November 7
Distance: 1422 miles
Driving Time: 20 hours, 48 minutes
Hello….is there anybody in there? If there happen to be any of those mythical creatures called Coyotes fans reading, have we got a trip for you! It starts early in the morning on Saturday, November 2nd, when you’ll head to San Jose to see the best looking hockey player in the league. Wait, he doesn’t play for them anymore? Well, if driving 10 hours to see a mere hockey game still sounds enticing, catch the game that night and then spend the next 3 days enjoying beautiful California, from the north to the south before you see Coyotes-Ducks on Wednesday the 6th in Anaheim. Head back home after the game and hope the team hasn’t lost another owner while you were in the car.
Depart Pittsburgh: April 30
Return to Pittsburgh: May 5
Distance: 1480 miles
Driving Time: 22 hours, 7 minutes
Games: 2 (1 outdoor/1 indoor)
One of the perks of rooting for Sidney Crosby’s team — other than, you know, watching Sidney Crosby — is that your club gets to take part in all the cool stuff the league does. Such is the case on Saturday, March 1st, when the Pens will play the defending Cup champs at Soldier Field in Chicago. If you’re a Pens fan, make sure you don’t miss that one, and as long as you’re there, you might as well dart south to see Pens-Preds in Nashville on the 4th before heading back to the three rivers after the game.
San Jose Sharks
Depart San Jose: April 30
Return to San Jose: May 5
Distance: 2892 miles
Driving Time: 47 hours, 28 minutes
Unfortunately, the good people making the NHL schedule didn’t have Sharks fans in mind when they put together this year’s edition. The Sharks will travel more miles in 2013-14 than any other NHL team, and unlike you, they’re stuck on cushy, lavish charter jets instead of enjoying the open road. There’s no simple LA-ANA-PHX stretch, so instead, we’re sending Sharks fans up north. If you leave on Monday, November 11th in the morning, you’ll get to Calgary by the next night and get to see the Yotes and Flames play in a game you’ll surely hear about on ESPN the next morning. You’ll have all of the 13th to drive to Vancouver and enjoy the beautiful Canadian landscape before Sharks-Canucks on the 14th. You could go back to Edmonton for the next night, but since you’ll already be right near the U.S. border, just head home and watch it on TV in San Jose.
St. Louis Blues
Depart St. Louis: March 19
Return to St. Louis: March 24
Distance: 1948 miles
Driving Time: 29 hours, 45 minutes
The Blues get that awesome New York triplet of games, (and that’s one I’ll be doing for sure), but since we’ve already used that setup in our guides, we’ll get more creative here. For example, on Wednesday, March 19th, you could go see the Blues and Blackhawks rekindle an always-fun rivalry. Since you’re already in that direction, keep going east and be in Philly the night of Saturday, March 22nd to see two 1967 expansion teams in a matinee. Just 21 hours after the game ends, the Blues are in Pittsburgh to play the Pens, yet another 1967 matchup. If you hustle, you can get back to St. Louis by the wee hours of Monday morning and load up on caffeine to get through the day at work or school.
***Bonus road trip: If you’re willing and able to miss Thanksgiving with the family in exchange for a crazy week of driving, listen up: Leave St. Louis on Tuesday, November 26th for Denver to see Blues-Avs the next night. Continue westward, stop at a grocery store and grab a turkey sandwich on Thursday, and get to San Jose for Friday night, the 29th. It’s Blues-Sharks On Sunday, December 1st, the Rams play the 49ers just across the Bay in San Francisco. Stick around for that game, then head south to Los Angeles for Blues-Kings on Monday. It’s a full day’s drive back to St. Louis, but after 3 hockey games and a football game, your adrenaline will be pumping enough to get you home.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Depart Tampa: February 27
Distance: 2457 miles
Driving Time: 35 hours, 50 minutes
Right after the Olympic break, on Thursday, February 27th, the Bolts head to Nashville to take on the Preds. After enduring 3 whole weeks without NHL hockey, get back to the game you love (and the team that, by this point in the year, you probably hate) in style by making the 10-hour drive, with a stop in Atlanta if you’ve never been to The Varsity or feel like investigating the farfetched myth that there was once a hockey team that played there (wait, that happened?). See the game that night, then take your sweet time drifting through Memphis and Little Rock on the way to Dallas, for Lightning-Stars on Saturday, March 1st. Hug the Gulf Coast on the way back to Dallas. You’ll get there by Sunday evening if you leave after the game.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Depart Toronto: January 8
Return to Toronto: January 11
Distance: 1461 miles
Driving Time: 25 hours, 5 minutes
A pretty easy, long-weekend road trip for the Leafs, as long as their fans haven’t rioted and killed Dave Nonis by the time January 9th rolls around. That’s when the Leafs square off against the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, only a 12 hour drive south. The next night, Friday the 10th, the Leafs are in DC, which is right on the way back to Toronto.
Depart Vancouver: January 11
Return to Vancouver: January 18
Distance: 3179 miles
Driving Time: 48 hours, 34 minutes
Canucks fans get to take a trip to Southern California and Arizona in mid-January. Leave on Sunday, January 11th and head down the Pacific Coast to Los Angeles, for an early litmus test in the Western Conference against the Kings on the 12th. If the Sedin Sisters can’t get the job done at Staples, we advise you refrain from rioting; the LAPD won’t let that shit fly. Moving on, the ‘Nucks get the Ducks on Wednesday the 15th at
Arrowhead Pond the Honda Center *sigh* and then play the Coyotes in Phoenix the next night. Gird your loins right after the game for a 23-hour hike through Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington to get back home. Or, if you’d rather extend your bender vacation, stop in Sin City on the way back. But word of advice: no matter how well you think you know hockey, DO NOT parlay NHL games…you have been warned.
Depart D.C.: January 24
Return to D.C.: February 1
Distance: 2023 miles
Driving Time: 31 hours, 43 minutes
This five-city tour might be the best of the bunch, fitting for followers of the defending Hart Trophy winner. Believe it or not, you won’t rack up too many miles even while following your team around like some dirty hippies on Phish tour. Leave the District of Columbia on the morning of Friday, January 24th and head to the New Jersey to catch Caps-Devils at the Rock. Hit the Jersey Turnpike and head due North to Montreal, where you’ll catch Les Habitants à Centre Bell. Spend the rest of the weekend in Montreal, which we hear is one of the most gorgeous cities in the league, before making your way back across the border to Buffalo. The Caps and Sabres face off on Tuesday the 28th. Stock up on Mighty Taco for the rest of your trip before making a move to Ohio. Be there by Thursday the 30th to see Gaborik, Dubinsky, Anisimov and the rest of the
Rangers BJs fire a cannon, or something. Early Friday morning, make the three-hour trip from Columbus to Detroit, where the Caps will cap off their roadtrip at the Joe, where “Rocking your Red” will probably be counterproductive. The trip home to D.C. from Detroit will be the longest leg of the trip, coming in at a shade under eight hours.
Depart Winnipeg: November 24
Return to Winnipeg: December 3
Last but not least, the Jets. Not a ton of travel options for fans in the ‘Peg, but old reliable, the New York triplet, is on the table, and it’s too good an opportunity to miss. It’s 25 hours from Winnipeg to Newark, so leave on Sunday, November 24th and get to The Prudential Center by the 25th. You’ll have all day Tuesday Wednesday to hang out in New York City before heading out to Long Island the night of the 27th. You’re Canadian, so you won’t be missing Thanksgiving the next night, and while we Americans are busy stuffing our faces (as per usual), you can head to Philly for a night on the town. It’s Jets-Flyers on Friday the 29th. Saturday and Sunday are free to spend either in Philly or back in NYC, as the Jets play the Rangers on Monday, December 2nd. That’s 4 games and a lifetime of memories made (and forgotten) in 2 of the best cities in the world. Head back to Winnipeg on Tuesday the 3rd.
Distance: 3534 miles
Driving Time: 54 hours, 18 minutes
Well, that’s all folks. Enjoy the Open Ride and don’t hesitate to make a pit stop in Hockey Falls if you find yourself in the neighborhood. We’ll bring the beers.