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NHL schedule: Games to circle on your calendars

Jul 19, 2013, 4:00 PM EDT

Daniel Alfredsson Getty Images

The National Hockey League released its 1,230-game regular season schedule on Friday and, after hours of intense scrutiny, PHT (again, it’s just me) has whittled down its list of must-see games.

In no particular order, they are…

Dec. 1, Detroit at Ottawa: Alfie returns

The longtime Sens captain shocked fans by signing with Detroit at the start of free agency, ending his 17-year career in Ottawa in the most dramatic of fashions.

It’ll be interesting to see how he’s received.

The organization has praised Alfredsson — Sens owner Eugene Melnyk said the club “would never forget Alfie for all the things he’s done,” — but the former captain admitted he expects anger from fans.

Jan. 19, Boston at Chicago: Stanley Cup Final rematch

The Blackhawks and Bruins will meet at the United Center for the first of two Cup Final rematches (the second is on Mar. 27 at TD Garden).

Of note, one of the biggest figures of Chicago’s victory, Dave Bolland, won’t be around to experience the rematch. The Stanley Cup-winning goalscorer was dealt to Toronto at the NHL Entry Draft.

Nov. 27, Philadelphia at Tampa Bay: Vinny goes home

It’ll be an emotional night in Tampa when Vincent Lecavalier returns as a Flyer.

Lecavalier, who debuted for the Bolts at 18 and spent his entire 14-season career in Tampa Bay, didn’t choose to leave — his contract was bought out during the compliance window, with the club citing salary cap issues.

While Tampa gained cap relief, it lost an important community fixture in the process. Fans will likely give Lecavalier’s a hero’s welcome on the 27th.

Mar. 20, Minnesota at New Jersey: Parise finally faces Devils

The former New Jersey captain was denied a chance to face his ex-club due to the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign, but will have a chance next season during Minnesota’s lone trip to the Prudential Center.

It’s going to be curious to see how Devils fans treat Parise, especially since he’s no longer the most recent star to leave New Jersey.

A big chunk of the team that lost the 2012 Stanley Cup Final to Los Angeles is gone — Parise’s in Minnesota, David Clarkson‘s in Toronto and Ilya Kovalchuk stunningly retired, then signed in the KHL.

Oct 30, Boston at Pittsburgh: So. Many. Storylines

Let’s see.

The Bruins swept the Pens out of the playoffs.

Zdeno Chara punched Sidney Crosby in his surgically-repaired jaw.

Jarome Iginla signed with the B’s in free agency.

Of note, Oct. 30 is the first of three meetings between the Pens and Bruins next season.

Nov. 30, Vancouver at New York Rangers: Torts is back!

The Canucks will make their first and only trip to the Big Apple early in the year, which will mark John Tortorella’s return to MSG after being fired by the Rangers in late May.

It’ll also mark Alain Vigneault’s first regular-season game against his old club (the Canucks and Rangers will meet in the preseason in Vancouver, mind you) and the first time Vancouver has played in New York since the 2010-11 season.

Honorable Mentions

Tyler Seguin will return to Boston as a member of the Dallas Stars for the first time on Nov. 5.

…Two years after being traded from Columbus, Rick Nash will return to Nationwide for the first time on Nov. 7, in a game that will also mark Marian Gaborik‘s first game against his ex-Ranger mates.

…Los Angeles and San Jose will meet for the first time since their intense playoff series on Oct. 30. Subplot here? Raffi Torres vs. Jarret Stoll.

…In that vein, Ottawa and Montreal will meet for their first time since their controversial playoff series on Nov. 7. Subplots here include Eric Gryba vs. Lars Eller, and Brandon Prust vs. Paul MacLean.

  1. sjsharks66 - Jul 19, 2013 at 4:07 PM

    Torres vs Stoll? No…they are good friends and Stoll even said it was just a misfortunate hit. Stop beating a dead horse.

  2. pizzaman77 - Jul 19, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    Missing another big one: Oct 28 – Ruff returns to Buffalo

  3. sunderlanding - Jul 19, 2013 at 4:34 PM

    Opening day Habs VS Leafs. First because it’s opening day. Second because it’s the two most iconic hockey teams of all time.

    • 8man - Jul 19, 2013 at 10:39 PM

      Iconic, yes. Most iconic? I dunno. Fans in Boston, Detroit, Chicago and New York have different ideas about that. But always a good matchup.

      • sunderlanding - Jul 19, 2013 at 11:04 PM

        When people world wide think of hockey the Leafs and Habs come to mind first most of the time. The Leafs symbol is like the Yankees. Even pople who know nothing about hockey wear it because it’s iconic. Axl Rose, Lady Gaga, Simpsons ect. ect. all make Leafs references. Sure the other teams are big markets, but there is no denying that the Leafs are a force as big as the NHL. They make more money than the rest of the League combined!

      • mrpinkca - Jul 20, 2013 at 1:10 PM

        The Leafs are not the Yankees of hockey. The Red Wings or The Canadiens are the Yankees of hockey.

        Gotta win.

  4. jacketsfan7 - Jul 19, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    When do the devils play the kings?

  5. sheckyrimshot - Jul 19, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    Dave Andreychuk was the captain of the lightning when they won the cup.

    • Mike Halford - Jul 19, 2013 at 5:49 PM

      Correct. Has been amended.

      • imleftcoast - Jul 19, 2013 at 6:19 PM

        Mike, when will there be a NBCSN schedule?

      • imleftcoast - Jul 19, 2013 at 6:22 PM

        There is one, and it looks good so long as your cable provider has NBCSN and NHL Network.

  6. pitpenguinsrulez - Jul 19, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    The only games that get circled more than once are the Pens vs. Flyers….no matter how bad both or one is at that moment it’s still a game that brings out the best in both teams…and of course the genuine hatred between both fanbases.

  7. phillyphannn83 - Jul 20, 2013 at 12:48 AM

    hahahaa the Leafs symbol is like the Yankees? hahahha now that’s a good one(and I hate the Yankees) wake up buddy, no one outside Toronto cares about the Leafs. if anything MTL is more iconic than TOR.

    • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Jul 20, 2013 at 3:04 AM

      Sure thing buddy… No one cares about the ONLY NHL team on the forbes top 50 franchises. Leafs make the most money by far, because nobody cares.

      Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

  8. chrisk61 - Jul 20, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    leafs most iconic ? well…ok. ‘

    but habs ?? huh ? they have a logo like a freakin toilet seat, for cryin out loud !

  9. iHeartHockey31 - Jul 21, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    I want to see East Coast Flyers vs West Coast Flyers
    Richards, Carter, Williams [with recent addition Carcillo] vs their former team, not to mention Gagne [who will hopefully be resigned in Philly] with “Philly Bringing Hexi Back”. Then there’s the sub-plots. Former Kings Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds, Carter’s [short lived] goalie teammate while in Columbus Steve Mason. The Kings screwing Philly over sending Bernier to Toronto [which as it turns out isn’t such a terrible thing given his vs Eastern conference team career splits. They might have to go for a double header in order for Pierre McGuire to get through the complicated mess.

    On another note, considering the Blue Jackets heavily relied on [former] non-conference teams like Philadelphia and New York [R] to be their trading partners. for the last 2-3 [maybe more seasons] just about any game between the Flyers – Rangers – Bluejackets should be interesting. should we be calling them the Columbus Rangers and the New York Blue Jackets?

    NBC doesn’t want to air the pre-season Rangers @ Canucks meeting ?

  10. tru2joelu4eva - Jul 21, 2013 at 6:21 PM

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kane (2005)
  2. P. Kessel (1261)
  3. M. Richards (1196)
  4. N. Backstrom (1098)
  5. M. Giordano (992)