The start of the NHL regular season may be a month away with the World Cup of Hockey and preseason still to come, but it’s never too early to get excited for the best slate of games the NHL has to offer this season. Here are the can’t miss-games for the start of the new year:
January 1st – Detroit Red Wings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
An Original Six battle AND it’s outdoors. That’s what the NHL is bringing fans with the Centennial Classic, kicking off the 100th season of the league. The Atlantic Division foes will take the ice at BMO Field on New Year’s Day, as Mike Babcock takes on his former team, who will be marching towards their 26th straight playoff appearance.
January 2nd – Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues
The Winter Classic gets bumped to the next day, as the St. Louis Blues will host an outdoor game against the rival Chicago Blackhawks. While tight playoff races will still be months away, the first battle between Central Division contenders in the new year could have a lasting affect on their postseason chances. This is one you don’t want to miss.
January 12th – New Jersey Devils vs. Edmonton Oilers
In one of this summer’s biggest moves, the Oilers traded franchise cornerstone Taylor Hall to the Devils in exchange for defenseman Adam Larsson. What will happen when the former face of the franchise returns to Edmonton? If the teams’ performances to this point haven’t pointed to a winner in the deal, then this game should give everyone a good idea.
February 25th – Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Yet another outdoor contest, the Penguins and Flyers, perhaps the best rivalry in hockey right now, square off at Heinz Field in an epic showdown. With more than just a win on the line, prepare for a big-time battle between two talented teams. An added bonus: the trade deadline will be just days away, adding more pressure to the result of the game if one (or both) of these teams find themselves on the buyer-seller line this season.