The NHL on NBC released its national schedule for the 2019-20 season, and there are a ton of gems on the calendar.
The network is broadcasting 109 national games, and the Philadelphia Flyers lead the NHL with 20 national dates. While the usual suspects are well-represented (we’re looking at you, Pittsburgh and Chicago), we’ve whittled the list down to the most intriguing games of the season. Feel free to disagree.
Wednesday, October 2, San Jose Sharks at Vegas Golden Knights
The NHL’s newest rivalry may be its fiercest, as these Pacific Division opponents have grown to hate each other over the past two seasons. Who can forget the incredible drama late in Game 7 that saw the series swing in San Jose’s favour? We know Ryan Reaves remembers Evander Kane dubbing him the “The Muffin Man.”
Vegas will certainly be looking to exact a measure of revenge after blowing a 3-2 series lead, while San Jose rattled off consecutive overtime victories to advance into the second round. If this season begins where last year’s left off, we’re all in for a treat.
Thursday, October 17, New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils
It’s been 25 years since the Rangers defeated the Devils in a historic Eastern Conference Final, and the newest chapter of the rivalry might be the most compelling since the mid-90’s.
Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko square off in a battle of the top two picks from this year’s NHL Draft. Hughes is looking to galvanize a Devils roster which already boasts Taylor Hall and acquired P.K. Subban in a trade over the summer, while Kakko features for a revamped Rangers team, led by Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba.
Five years down the line, this game might be a “where were you?” moment.
Saturday, October 26, St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins
It didn’t take long for the NHL to schedule a rematch of the Stanley Cup Final and the Blues will have fond memories of TD Garden, where they lifted the trophy for the first time after their Game 7 triumph. For the Bruins, they’ll be able to take out their frustrations on the defending champions early into the season.
By now, the Blues’ worst-to-first storyline might’ve been repeated ad nauseam but they did start out at a snail’s pace and Ryan O’Reilly, Alex Pietrangelo and company ought to be better out of the gate. Brad Marchand is coming off the first 100-point season of his career, while Tuukka Rask was outstanding during the playoffs. We can’t wait for the puck to drop on this one.
Wednesday, January 1, Nashville Predators at Dallas Stars
Who said the Outdoor Classic couldn’t be held in warm-weather states? Dallas’ top-heavy roster, led by Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, John Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen makes them a compelling draw. Nashville is always among the most complete teams in the league, and though it traded Subban this summer, we can’t wait to see Matt Duchene on this well-balanced attack.
Dallas ousted Nashville in six games this spring, arguably in the most fun series of a very compelling first round. Pekka Rinne and Ben Bishop were both excellent last year, and two elite goaltenders trying to shut down two high-powered offences, while outdoors, is enough for us to circle this one on our iCalendars.
Monday, January 6, Edmonton Oilers at Toronto Maple Leafs
This one might sell itself, as who can pass up a chance to see Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl battle Auston Matthews, John Tavares and the rest of the Maple Leafs’ loaded forward corps? Toronto drew a paltry three national games, and it might be the best chance to see them before the playoffs begin.
McDavid is the most electrifying player in hockey, and would be appointment viewing if the supporting cast around him was even marginally better. As it stands, the battle between him and Matthews could turn into this generation’s Crosby-Ovechkin, and we’re expecting goals galore.
Rogers Sportsnet also released its national schedule for the 2019-20 season for viewers north of the border, and we’ve teed up a number of key games to focus on.
Saturday, October 12, St. Louis Blues at Montreal Canadiens
The defending champion Blues make their first national television appearance at the Bell Centre against the Canadiens. O’Reilly and the Blues will be looking to put a tonne of pressure on Carey Price and company in a rematch of the 1969 Stanley Cup Final (I assure you, no one should be calling this game as such!)
Max Domi underwent a breakout season in Montreal, and we’ll be keeping an eye out to see if he’ll be in top form again, or whether the 2018-19 campaign was an anomaly, as the Blues look to suffocate the Canadiens in one of the league’s most vibrant arenas.
Saturday, October 19, Boston Bruins at Toronto Maple Leafs
This one spells itself out. The Bruins have eliminated the Maple Leafs in seven games, in consecutive years, representing a house of horrors of sorts for the blue-and-white. If you’re not drawn to the latest iteration of this Original Six rivalry from past or recent history alone, that’s fine. This game has enough star power.
Toronto traded Nazem Kadri to the Colorado Avalanche during the summer, which may be a direct result of his suspensions against the Bruins in 2018 and 2019. The Leafs received one of the best offensive defenceman in the NHL in Tyson Barrie, adding a new dimension to the team, and this game answers the hypothetical: what could’ve been? Expect these Atlantic Division foes to be at their best.
Saturday, October 26, Calgary Flames at Winnipeg Jets
This year’s Heritage Classic features two Stanley Cup hopefuls from last season who saw their dreams come to a crushing halt in the first round of the playoffs. The magic ran out for Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm and Sean Monahan, but this trio will be back to lead one of the NHL’s best attacks, while Winnipeg boasts Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor (the latter duo, we assume), a formidable foursome as any.
If you want to see two Canadian teams with plenty of goal-scoring prowess, this is the one for you.
Saturday, February 8, Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens
A good old-fashioned tilt between two sworn enemies highlights Hockey Day in Canada. History aside, the on-ice proceedings ought to be pretty good, as the Canadiens surprisingly fought for a playoff berth until the very end, while the Leafs’ regular season exploits didn’t matter all too much in the spring.
No one is sleeping on the Canadiens anymore, and their fan base would revel in a victory over the Maple Leafs, especially after John Tavares’ Feb. 9 overtime winner emerged as one of the highlights of Toronto’s 2018-19 campaign.
Saturday, April 4, Edmonton Oilers at Calgary Flames
The latest Battle of Alberta will take place on the final day of the regular season, which might mark the final day of McDavid’s season, sadly, as the Oilers don’t figure to be in the playoff race despite having the NHL’s best player.
The upstart Flames were dominant in the regular season and this could signify the end of another productive campaign, before aiming for significantly better results in the postseason. There’s ample fire power on both ends who should have completely different goals for the 2019-20 campaign.
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