With September fast approaching, it will soon be time for NHL training camps to begin – and before you know it, the regular season will be upon us. If you’re still looking for the most intriguing games to circle on your calendar, look no further. This week’s list counts down the 10 best games to watch this season in chronological order:
10. Oct. 9, Canadiens at Jets
The first regular season NHL game in Manitoba since April 28, 1996 promises to be one of the most jubilant in recent memory. Scalpers in Winnipeg may be able to live for a year off the asking prices that are sure to be met.
9. Oct. 15, Kings at Flyers
Former Flyers captain Mike Richards will have just three regular season games (none at home) as a King under his belt before traveling back to Philadelphia to take on his old teammates for the first time. The Kings don’t host the Flyers this season, so expect lots of emotion from all players involved in the Richards trade on this day.
8. October 25/27, Penguins at Islanders/Islanders at Penguins
A home-and-home series between the Pens and Isles marks the first rematch between the Atlantic Division franchises since their ugly battles last season. You can bet new league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan will have particular interest in these games.
7. October 27, Canadiens at Bruins
Like the Isles and Pens, the Habs and Bruins jacked up their rivalry to new heights last season, thanks to Zdeno Chara’s controversial hit on Max Pacioretty, as well as the first round playoff battle the two teams engaged in.
6. November 10, Wild at Sharks
San Jose and Minnesota made two of the NHL’s bigger trades this summer – both with each other – setting the stage for the returns of Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi to northern California.
5. December 1, Coyotes at Jets
Winnipeggers will see their new team play their old team – which came very close to being their new team before the Thrashers relocated – in this matchup. Do you think Shane Doan will be standing-ovation-cheered very much? Me too.
4. December 3, Rangers at Lightning
Both Brad Richards and John Tortorella have been back to Tampa Bay since they helped the Bolts win a Stanley Cup in 2004, but never as members of the same organization. Until now.
3. December 29. Flyers at Penguins
Nine words: Jaromir Jagr’s return to Pittsburgh in a Flyers uniform. The Pens may need another new arena after the booing shakes the Consol Energy Center to its foundations.
2. Jan. 7, Canucks at Bruins
Boston doesn’t visit Vancouver during the regular season, meaning this game may be the only time the B’s and Nucks face off after their memorable Stanley Cup final showdown last season.
1. April 7, 15 Games
That’s right – the NHL has made the fantastic choice to end its regular season schedule for the first time ever with all 30 teams in action (the league ended 1975-76 and ’76-’77 with all 18 teams playing). It should make for a number of fascinating games that could decide playoff berths/seedings as well as draft lottery positions. Among the potential highlights: Buffalo at Boston, L.A. at San Jose, Washington at the Rangers, Toronto at Montreal, Philly at Pittsburgh and Chicago at Detroit.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
If you enjoy this feature, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine for the exclusive countdown, Starting From 5, and other great features from the world of hockey.