Potential opening-night matchups are starting to leak as the NHL lockout comes to an end. So far, all the theoretical games except two involve Western Conference foes and four of the Original Six teams have planned hypothetical matches. Here’s what’s being thrown around as possible first games out of the gate for basically half of the league.
The Vancouver Canucks would host the Anaheim Ducks, the Columbus Blue Jackets would travel to the Nashville Predators, the Montreal Canadiens would welcome the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Winnipeg Jets would host the Ottawa Senators, the Minnesota Wild might travel to the Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings would visit the St. Louis Blues.
Also, the 2012 Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings would host the Chicago Blackhawks, who may very well start their season on a road trip because Disney on Ice visits the United Center at this time every year.
Remember that any of these matchups could change between now and Jan. 19. Personally, I’m hoping one of them definitely changes. There’s no NHL rivalry quite like the one between the Canadiens and the Boston Bruins. Literally nothing compares, even though some rivalries are also pretty heated. No rivalry has endured the test of time like Boston-Montreal, simple as that.
Right now, the rumored first game for the Bruins is against the New York Rangers. That’s all well and good–and takes care of the other two Original Six teams–but there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned heated match between the Bs and the Habs. For the league, that could be a great show for them to put on right out of the gate.
Like I said, though, the schedule could very well change between now and then. Since commissioner Gary Bettman apparently reads all the blogs and social media (which smacks of Sarah Palin claiming she reads every newspaper), perhaps he will somehow read this article. Ha! Just kidding.