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Just-released Penguin schedule features signature road trips

| Tuesday, June 22, 2010, 12:00 p.m.

Apparently the NHL wants to showcase the Consol Energy Center a little bit at a time. The NHL released its 2010-11 schedule today, and, in a strange twist, the longest homestand for the Penguins this season will be a mere three games.

Although five of the season's first seven Penguins' games will be played at the team's new home, there will be plenty of traveling and a couple of signature road trips looming.

A stretch of games from Feb. 11 to March 5 appears an extremely daunting challenge for the Penguins. A four-game road trip to Long Island, New York, Colorado and to Chicago to face the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks and a five-game road trip to Carolina, Toronto (for two consecutive games, really), New Jersey and Boston will sandwich two home games against two of the leagues best teams in Washington and San Jose.

The Penguins must play four of their final five games on the road, including their final game of the season, Sunday, April 10, in Atlanta.

In their last home game of the regular season, the Penguins will host New Jersey on Tuesday, April 5.

There are plenty of other interesting notes regarding the team's schedule:

• Get used to Friday home games this season. Although Saturday games at home have been a staple for the Penguins over the years, they only play six times at home on Saturday this season. Three of those games are matinees and one won't even be at the team's new home. The Penguins will be at home for seven Friday night games, including four during high school football season.

• The Penguins will play at home nine times on Wednesdays, seven times on Tuesdays, seven times on Fridays, six times on Mondays, six times on Saturdays, three times on Thursday and three times on Sundays,

• The Penguins will play 12 afternoon games this season.

• As already was announced, the Penguins will host Washington at Heinz Field Jan. 1 in the Winter Classic.

• The Penguins will play against Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals twice in Washington, both on days when football could rule the day. While the Steelers are hosting the Carolina Panthers on a Thursday night game at Heinz Field Dec. 23, the Penguins will be playing in Washington. Also, just like last season, the Penguins will be in Washington for a matinee on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 6.

• Ovechkin and the Capitals also skate into town Feb. 21.

• Montreal, a few months removed from eliminating the Penguins in Game 7 of the second round, will play in the second game ever at Consol Energy Arena on Saturday, Oct. 9.

• The Penguins play in Toronto Feb. 26 and don't play again until March 2 when they play in, of all places, Toronto.

• Fans will be disappointed to note that the annual Thanksgiving Eve game won't be in Pittsburgh this season. Instead, the Penguins will play the night before Thanksgiving in Buffalo.

• The team has scheduled matinee home games for the Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving against Ottawa and Calgary, respectively.

• The Penguins will play three Western Conference teams at home and away: Detroit, Columbus and Phoenix.

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