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Mark Your Calendar: The 10 must-see games on the 2019-20 NHL schedule

Less than two weeks after the Stanley Cup final, we can already look ahead to some of next season's biggest games, including post-season rematches, top prospect debuts and a few signature outdoor contests.

It was exactly two weeks ago today that the NHL season came to an end, with the St. Louis Blues hoisting the Stanley Cup high above their collective heads following a Game 7 victory that brought the franchise its first championship since it entered the league as part of the league’s first expansion. In the time since, there’s been some player movement, a few notable buyouts, the awards ceremony, the draft and we’re only days away from the beginning of free agency. After that, there will be a couple-month break during which players and fans alike will get a recharge their batteries.

But for those who have an insatiable hunger for hockey, those who can’t wait to prepare for the season to come, the NHL has you covered. A mere 14 days after the past season came to its conclusion, the 2019-20 schedule has been released.

So, when will the puck drop on next season? When will we get our first big-league glance at Jack Hughes? And how about a Stanley Cup final rematch? When will the Boston Bruins get their opportunity to exact some minor revenge against the Blues? Here are 10 must-watch games that are already on the calendar:

Washington Capitals at St. Louis Blues – Oct. 2, 2019
What, you thought the Blues were done celebrating? Guess again. On the first day of the campaign, St. Louis is going to raise the Stanley Cup banner to the rafters and most likley hear ‘Gloria’ at least one more time. What better way to raise the banner than by doing it against the champions from the year prior, too? This should be an annual tradition.

San Jose Sharks at Vegas Golden Knights – Oct. 2, 2019
The split second the opening round series between the Sharks and Golden Knights came to a close, most were ready the battle to go to an eighth game. Vegas is going to be desperate to exact some revenge, and they’ll have to wait all of zero days once the campaign begins to get the chance. As if one tilt between these two wasn’t enough, too, San Jose and Vegas will be back at it again on Oct. 4.

Edmonton Oilers at New Jersey Devils – Oct. 10, 2019
All right, not to send the Jack Hughes Hype Train careening off the tracks too early here, but it’s always fascinating to see the next bright up-and-comer get his first test against one of the game’s established stars. And what better head-to-head than one against Connor McDavid? The Oilers captain has become a bonafide superstar in no time, and Hughes is going to be able to measure himself against McDavid within the first week of the season.

New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils – Oct. 17, 2019
And not to make this list too Hughes heavy, but there’s always an additional spotlight on the first battle between the first- and second-overall picks. Remember the Auston Matthews-Patrik Laine battle a few years back? That was a thriller. But this? This is a chance to spark a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry between Hughes and Kaapo Kakko. The two top prospects will go head-to-head a number of times over the years with the Devils and Rangers.

St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins – Oct. 26, 2019
As noted above, this is the Bruins’ chance to exact some minor revenge. After all, there’s really no payback the season following a Stanley Cup final defeat. That said, Boston is going to have this game circled on its calendar and use every ounce of emotion that’s lingering from a disappointing finish to the campaign to get the ‘W’ in the rematch.

Calgary Flames at Winnipeg Jets – Oct. 26, 2019
A neutral site Heritage Classic at Regina’s Mosaic Stadium. This will be the second time in three seasons that the Jets are the home squad in such a game, and also the second time in three seasons that they’ll be facing an opponent from Alberta. The one thing Winnipeg hopes it doesn’t repeat, though? A second time falling on the wrong side of a shutout. The Jets were blanked 3-0 by the Oilers in the 2016 Heritage Classic.

New Jersey Devils at Nashville Predators – Dec. 7, 2019
P.K. Subban took his departure from Nashville in stride, thanking the organization and its fans before expressing his excitement about heading to New Jersey. We’ll see if the Predators faithful return the warmth when Subban and the Devils skate into Bridgestone Arena in early December. Safe bet says yes, but you never know.

Nashville Predators at Dallas Stars – Jan. 1, 2020
A warm-weather Winter Classic at Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas between two teams that in the early days of the NHL would have been seen as impossible hockey markets. Amazing how far the game has come. As for the contest, there’s one number worth watching: 96,000. That’s the stadium’s record attendance, and you can bet the NHL is hoping to break that mark.

Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets – Feb. 10, 2020
Certainly the Lightning would have preferred to get one back from the Blue Jackets sometime before the final months of the season, but it turns out Tampa Bay is going to have to live with first-round sweep jokes without the chance for any rebuttal until mid-February. Sure, Columbus’ roster is gong to look significantly different, but that doesn’t mean the game will mean any less.

Los Angeles Kings at Colorado Avalanche – Feb. 15, 2020
Last season, it was a contest at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. This coming campaign, the Stadium Series moves to the Air Force Academy’s Falcon Stadium. And instead of a matchup between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals, fans will be treated to a tete-a-tete between the hometown Avalanche and visiting Kings.

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