The 2011 NHL playoff schedule will be officially announced at 10 p.m. Eastern on a special NHL Network program, but a few hours before that announcement, we have some indications on when each series will start. Keep in mind that all of this is speculation for now.
First, in the East...
There are no schedule conflicts at Verizon Center later this week (thanks, Wizards!), so we don't have any indication just yet on when this series could begin. But, using deduction, we might be able to assume that this series doesn't start Thursday, since it seems that two other Eastern series are starting that night.
It looks as though this series will begin on Thursday, since the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia is occupied on both Wednesday evening by the 76ers and on Friday night by the AFL's Soul.
All the signs are pointing to a Thursday start at TD Garden. In Quebec, they're trying to move political debates to Wednesday night to avoid a conflict with the start of the Habs' playoff season.
There's a schedule conflict at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Saturday night, so that would make you believe that the series could start Wednesday, with Game 2 being played Friday night. This makes the most sense, since two of the other Eastern series begin on Thursday night, but there's the potential that this series could start on Friday night as well.
If the Pens were to host Game 1 on Wednesday and Game 2 on Friday, Game 3 would have to wait until Monday thanks to an Iron Maiden show at the St. Pete Times Forum on Sunday. Charlie Sheen is there on Friday the 22nd, too, and that's apropos of nothing. Just worth mentioning.
Now, to the West...
Rod Stewart and Stevie Nicks are at Rogers Arena on Friday night, so it looks as though these two playoff rivals will face off in Game 1 on Thursday night.
This one looks like it's headed for a Thursday start as well, since there's an event at HP Pavilion scheduled for Friday night.
Nothing really happens at Joe Louis Arena or Jobing.com Arena, so it's kind of up in the air when this one could begin. If the other Western series are any indication, it looks like this one could start Wednesday.
Lady Gaga is at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville next Tuesday, so if this series begins on Wednesday night, that would be a schedule conflict for Game 4. That far away in the series, though, doesn't rule out anything. There's no way to really tell when this one could begin. We'll have to wait and see.
It's a little easier to narrow things down in the East than the West, as you can see, but this gives us somewhat of an idea of what to expect when the schedule is officially announced at 10 p.m. Eastern on this Sunday night. We'll have the real, official schedule as soon as that announcement is made, so be sure to stop back.