I've spent the day out and about, doing a number of fantastic things, but there was something bothering me: I hadn't really examined the NHL schedule for games I want to watch this upcoming season. Other bloggers and media outlets have talked about the "Top Ten" games to watch this season and the likes, but there have to some games that interest people personally. Whether it be a star who returns to the city where he shone the brightest or long-brewing rivalry between two teams, there are always those games that stand out on the calendar for me as "must-see" games.
This is not a scientific breakdown by any means, and this entire schedule is purely a subjective, selfish view on games I want to watch this season. Take it for what you will, but after examining the schedule, I'm pretty sure these are going to be the ones that interest me the most.
- October 3 and October 24, 2009. All 30 teams play on those nights, so it will make for some serious hockey fodder the next day. It normally only happens once in a season, so having it done twice is twice as nice.
- Penguins-Rangers on October 2, 2009. I'm not going to say how sweet it will be for me as a Penguins fan watching them add "2008-09" banner amongst the "1990-91" and "1991-92" banners, but it'll be pretty sweet. The Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins begin their title defence against the Rangers.
- Flyers-Bruins on January 1, 2010. Fenway Park. The Green Monster. Milan Lucic. Scott Hartnell. Zdeno Chara. Chris Pronger. Tim Thomas. Ray Emery. I'm already pumped about this game, and it's still five months away.
- Six games between Chicago and Detroit. If you didn't know the story behind this one, check last season for "Detroit vs. Pittsburgh". The star of that show was Marian Hossa and his leaving for greener pastures in the off-season. This time, he brought a sidekick in Tomas Kopecky. These games could be explosive, especially since neither team really likes the other.
- Penguins-Capitals on January 21, 2010. After playing in an epic seven-game series this past season, the Capitals and Penguins will tangle for the first time nearly four months into the schedule. No one should be able to say they weren't ready for this matchup at that point in the season. It should be a beauty!
- The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics in February 2010. Canada plays on home soil, looking for redemption after a horrific showing in 2006 at Torino, Italy. If you didn't think there was pressure already, wait until the games start on February 15. "Powder keg" might be the only way to describe this event.
- Hockey Day in Minnesota on January 23, 2010. I might make the trek to Minneapolis for this day. Essentially, everyone in the state of Minnesota becomes hockey-mad for the week leading up to the weekend, and then goes completely bonkers for hockey on the weekend.
- Hockey Day in Canada on January 30, 2010. All six Canadian teams play. CBC features all three games, plus about 3000 hours of additional hockey programming. It's like hockey heaven for those of us with a slight passion.
- Islanders-Lightning on December 5, 2009. Some people might be laughing that I included this game in here, but this essentially pits the two rookies that everyone wants to see this season against one another. "Tavares-Hedman Round One" probably won't be all that spectacular, but it will be interesting to see if they get matched against one another.
- Senators-TheTeamHeatleyGetsTradedTo. Now, this may never happen. However, the drama that would unfold may not happen until after March 4. That day is the 2009-10 trade deadline, and GM Bryan Murray has already said he'd try to trade Heatley out west. If that's the case, the only Western Conference teams the Senators face before the end of the season are Calgary, Vancouver, Dallas, and - surprise, surprise - the Edmonton Oilers.
It's good to have something to look forward to, eh?
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!