It may only be July but now that the 2013-2014 NHL schedule has been released the countdown to October 1st for hockey fans is on. It's time to start planning the road-trips, making excuses to miss family gatherings and making a list of available dates when you're not watching hockey to give to family and friends. Before marking your NHL life in stone, here are 10 games you wont want to miss this upcoming NHL season.
After the lockout-shortened 2013 season the 2013-2014 NHL season will return to normal and there will even be a few bonuses for hockey fans. The 2013-2014 NHL season will feature 34 more games for each team than last season and as a special bonus fans will once again get to see NHL action in October! With a full 82 game season and an Olympic break thrown into the mix the 2013-2014 NHL season is sure to be a good one; Here's 10 more games that you'll want to be in front of a television for.
October 8th 2013- New Jersey Devils vs. Vancouver Canucks
Finally the goaltending saga between Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider is over- at least in Vancouver. After much debate that the Canucks had lost faith in Luongo and were ready to move forward with Schneider, the Canucks dealt Schneider on draft day to the New Jersey Devils. Schneider will return to Vancouver to see his former teammates in the first week of the season; the only question is whether he'll be between the pipes or not. But a Schneider/Luongo match-up would be a must watch game and could be a possible Olympic match-up.
October 28th 2013- Dallas Stars vs. Buffalo Sabres
For Buffalo Sabres fans, seeing former head coach Lindy Ruff behind the bench of another team is going to be tough. On October 28th Ruff will be behind the bench of the Dallas Stars as he makes his return to the First Niagara Centre as the Stars and Sabres square off. It'll be an emotional night for both parties, as Ruff returns to the place where he called home for 16 years and plays the role of the villain.
November 9th 2013- Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins
Hey leafs, remember that time you almost eliminated the Boston Bruins in the first round but then collapsed? Well on November 9th the Leafs will be heading back to the scene of their historic collapse to face off against the big bad Bruins. There's a growing divisional rivalry between the Bruins and Leafs, but a rivalry of which the Bruins always seem to win. The Leafs came to within 10 minutes of slaying the Bruins, but a blown 3 goal lead with half a period left is something that will hollow in the minds of Leaf players forever. 180 days after the collapse the Leafs will once again have to face the Bruins, that may be a good game to start Jonathan Bernier.
November 30th 2013- Vancouver Canucks vs. New York Rangers
The Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers took part in a coach swap this offseason as John Tortorella moved from New York to Vancouver and Alain Vigneault moved from Vancouver to New York. While neither coach will step onto the ice or score any goals the media circus that will be around both- specifically Tortorella will be something to see. Will we see another classic John Tortorella press conference?
December 1st 2013- Detroit Red Wings vs. Ottawa Senators
In a move that surprised many, long-time Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson signed a deal with the Detroit Red Wings. Alfredsson was the longest serving captain in the NHL before he jumped ship because he felt the Wings gave him the best shot at a Stanley Cup. Will the Senators faithful boo their former beloved captain or will some "Alfie" chants breakout?
January 1st 2014- Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Detroit Red Wings
It may be a year late but on January 1st the Leafs will square off against the Wings in the annual Winter Classic game at Michigan Stadium. Even with the NHL capitalizing on 6 "out-door" games next season, the Leafs and Red Wings Winter Classic will be a game you wont want to miss as the centre of the hockey universe takes on hockeytown. Plus there's finally a Canadian team playing in the Winter Classic- it's sure to be a classic.
January 11th 2014- Chicago Blackhawks vs. Boston Bruins
After one of the most exciting and nail bitting Stanley Cup Finals the NHL is going to make fans wait until January 11th for the first re-match between the Bruins and Blackhawks.
January 22nd 2014- Chicago Blackhawks vs. Detroit Red Wings
With the Red Wings being moved into the Eastern Conference the Blackhawks will only see their former rivals twice next season. On January 22nd the former Western Conference rivals will square off for the first time and renew the rivalry between the two original six squads.
January 24th 2014- Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings
It's not the Winter Classic and it may just be a lame attempt for the NHL to milk money and ruin something classic but the Ducks and Kings will kick off the NHL's new "Stadium Series" by playing an outdoor hockey game in LA. An out-door hockey in LA, yeah I'm looking forward to seeing that as well.
March 20th 2014- Minnesota Wild vs. New Jersey Devils
You can't but help feel sorry for the New Jersey Devils. They lost Ilya Kovalchuk after he bolted to the KHL this offseason and lost Zach Parise last offseason. Parise will finally have a chance to visit his former team in New Jersey for the first time since game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012.
Although hockey fans will once again be able to enjoy an 82 game season, the 2013-2014 season will be a big change for a lot of teams and fans. There will be many "Home-comings" after one of the biggest off-seasons for players looking to chang scenery. Fans will also be treated to 6 out-door NHL games; Will the novelty quickly wear off? When the puck drops on October 1st another memorable NHL season will get underway as the Chicago Blackhawks look to defend their Stanley Cup title.